Gender Week: Kate ’16 Defines Gender Stereotypes With A Haircut

So, I cut my hair.
A simple task really; boys with short hair do it all the time unnoticed. But since I identify as a girl, I had to learn how to tackle the question, “Why? Why cut that beautiful long hair?” It almost felt like it was the only thing about me people saw for the first few weeks that I cut my hair. In movies, when a girl cuts all her hair off, she’s probably going through some mental breakdown or life crisis.
For me , it was almost the complete opposite; I cut my hair because it was, literally and figuratively, a weight off my shoulders. While I had always told myself that I did not care what other people thought of me part of me didn’t really believe that. I think that’s in a lot of us, that feeling that no matter how confident we are that day, there’s always something about our appearance that could be better. Having gone to a Catholic middle school, the way we expressed our gender was decided for us. Girls: skirts, long socks. Boys: hair cut short above the collar, corduroy pants, sneakers. Having finally broken out of my Catholic school shell, I had the chance to decide my gender expression for myself. The hesitation that came before I cut off my hair was a reminder that what I was doing was in a sense controversial; I was getting a “boy’s” haircut.
And there’s the first problem. Short hair is for boys. When I walked into basketball practice with short hair for the first time, I wasn’t just a girl with short hair. “So what’s your name now,” one girl joked, “like… your boy name?” Instantly, I moved from bold, shocking hair cut girl, to transgendered boy in her eyes. But I still felt like a girl. I still looked in the mirror, buzzed hair and all, and saw myself as a girl. Maybe I’m not “girly”, but I’m definitely a girl. Why should my hair’s length make my gender?
When I let someone tell me I was a boy, something about my identity was taken from me. I felt like my gender identity was stripped, and I no longer felt confident on where I placed myself on the gender spectrum. Why was my gender suddenly dictated by someone else’s opinion? When I was told I was a boy by something other than my mind, I started to have doubts about who I was, almost like my boyish hair came with a boyish heart and mind. I soon realized that masculinity and femininity don’t necessarily match boy and girl. I can be masculine inside and out, and still be a girl.
My gender is my gender. I can be a girl one day, a boy the next, and somewhere in between any other day, but someone else’s opinion, let alone my hair, wasn’t in charge of that. So if you ever feel like you want to wear pink one day, black the next, or chop off your hair, don’t think about what it means for your gender or others’ perceptions of it, because your outside has nothing to do with your inside.

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