Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Today my daughter gave herself a hair cut.

I have heard that this is a normal sort of right of passage for a young lady, and since my daughter is just over four, it must be about that time.

I blame myself.

First of all, I left the scissors out after cutting my sons hair today.

Second...  well...  I don't exactly present an example of long flowing locks as being equal to femininity.  I don't even present with a cute bob as equal to femininity.  So who the heck am I to tell my daughter she can't have a super short haircut?

But I admit, I gave serious pause when she opened the bathroom door, beaming, and her lovely brown hair was strewn all about the floor.  She removed her bangs completely.  There were several random chunks out of the back and sides.  Nothing was the same length.  And it. was. short.

I am certain that shock registered all over my face.

"I cut my hair!"  She was elated.  Empowered.  Glowing.

And I get it.

When you're four years old you don't have a lot of say over many things.  You can't drive.  You can't leave.  You can't use the sharp knives.  You don't have a lot of spending power.  You can't read well.  You don't yet type.  You don't have many friends.

But your hair...well...  that's yours, isn't it?  Isn't it?

I bit my tongue and smiled back at her.

My husband neatened it up a bit, with her permission, and now she's got a pixie-do... minus bangs.

While I was cleaning up the pieces of hair on the floor she said, "Mom, it's okay.  It's just hair.  And it's my hair, so I can cut it if I want to, right?"

Bottom line?

She's RIGHT.

So many of us are horrified when our daughter's take ownership over something as little as their hair.  Something as meaningless.

Hair does not define a person.  It does not define their beauty, their intellect, their emotions, their talents, their gifts, their capacity for love.  Hair is JUST HAIR, Mom.  It's JUST hair.

I've been through the wringer and back about my own choices in hair style - and yet I could feel my voice catching in my throat when it was my little girl.  I thought about my parents' reactions to my hair and I understand it now...  you think... suddenly...  she's not as pretty.

And you HATE that reaction.

That hair DOES matter?  It kills you.  Because it SHOULD.  NOT.  MATTER.

And you'd best bite it back.  And you'd best allow your little girl to OWN that haircut.  And you'd best tell her she's beautiful.  And you'd best MEAN IT.  Because if we are to say that women are more than their bodies.  And if we are to say that women have OWNERSHIP over their bodies, then we'd better apply that to our daughters right now.  And their daughters.  And the girl at the grocery store.  And the older woman who shaves or dyes or cuts or whatever she wants.  We need to look beyond the hair, and see into the soul.


Heather said...

This one was a hard one for me, not because my girls ever cut their own hair (which is surprising since I always cut my own AND theirs) but rather letting them go without combing it. My 14 year old kind of combs it but not really. It is hard to not say something. Hard to hold back. But I LOVE that she is 14 and not obsessed with her looks. Sure she loves clothes and dresses fun but she has experimented with makeup (they are free to wear as much or as little at they want)-- both girls choose not, but I almost never do. I always keep my hair so I don't have to fuss-- only about 6 times in their lives have they seen me spend an hour fussing over my hair-- unlike my highschool days when I would spend 3 HOURS getting ready for school, most of which I spent on my hair. So they have that example. But it still is hard not to say, "Go comb your hair, go put something on it, go wash it, whatever". Sometimes I fail but usually I just smile and tell them they look beautiful, because they do. Much better than my styled to perfection wouldn't leave the house without a mask of makeup and my hair just so and my dad saying how lovely I looked an dhow proud he was that I cared how I looked. (And yes, I rebeled against it all when I was 17-- my grad pictures I look almost exactly as I do now, only younger. :) No, my dad wasn't thrilled. :D

Missy said...

I have been through phases of trying extremely hard and phases of not caring at all. When I first met my husband I made a concerted effort NOT to make an effort, because I was tired of boys interested in me only for my looks - I wanted someone who liked me for ME. It's only recently that I've started enjoying looking pretty, much like I did when I was very young - I think it's having my daughter around, honestly, her feeling comfortable in dresses and skirts and free to be herself - they aren't traps or requirements for her, but choices - just more things to try! I always had to wear them to church and special events and things like that and they were obligatory and I HATED that. Now choosing is FUN! I think it always is. Kudos to you for allowing your 14 year old to go without combing! What a cool kid to have that kind of confidence! Whoo!

Lauren Ashleigh said...

As scary as it is sometimes, when it comes to down to the simplicity of just being, being a girl is the most fun thing ever!

Jackie said...

As a non-mom, at least for now, I'm having an interesting pull in both directions. On one hand, I had the longest, prettiest hair when I was little. I never cut it, I cried when my mother cut it for the first time (before I went to kindergarten, so I wouldn't pee on it when trying to go to the bathroom by myself), and I've kept it long for most of my life. I love long hair. But on the other hand, I love long hair for me. Who am I to tell my daughter what's beautiful for her? Who am I to say that just because I love long hair for me, that she has to love it for her? I can only tell her the truth, that she's beautiful, no matter what...

But would I feel sad if I walked into that scenario, probably. I guess that's a bridge I'll have to cross when I come to it, but it'll definitely be a struggle. I guess I know who I'm coming to for advice when the time comes.


Missy said...

Jackie - letting go of my ideals of beauty when it comes to my daughter have been hard, but FUN, honestly, and so interesting. I'm her mother, and yet she's got four different kinds of lip gloss in on her bureau, pink streaks in her hair, and adores wearing dresses. Having a daughter has definitely taken me on an amazing journey thus far. Sure to be even more interesting as time goes by. Thanks so much for your comments!

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