For roughly a year, my daughter has been asking to get her hair cut really short. I believe it began last year when her twin brother got his first haircut at a real, brick and mortar shop. She didn’t because I continued to cut her hair. Just a pageboy, with bangs, and I could still handle that. My boy’s hair – I was over my head cutting it myself so it was time.
Every so often this last year, she would ask to get her hair cut short because she hates it in her face all the time. But she also doesn’t like when I put it in pigtails or pony tails or even use barrettes. So what to do. I didn’t want to jump in and have her regret it, but then again, why not?
I decided to let her do it. I mean, what in the world was stopping me? Was it my own vanity in wanting to keep her hair longer, as a girl? What was it?
I had to reconcile the fact that this 4 year old little girl was feeling like she wanted short hair and I was the one standing in her way. Well not anymore.
We went yesterday and from the second she got in the chair, she was feeling herself. The stylist asked, “Are you sure you want short hair? A pixie cut, really?” She was looking at me as she asked these questions and I said, “Ask her.” Well, my girl said without a drop of hesitation, “YES. I WANT SHORT HAIR LIKE GAH.”
There you have it. She didn’t want long hair like most of her preschool class and cousins and neighbors and the little girls she watches on shows and reads about in books. She wants short hair.
My friend Lea reminded me of this poem – “It’s Not Your Job,” by Caitlyn Siehl
when your little girl
asks you if she’s pretty
your heart will drop like a wineglass
on the hardwood floor
part of you will want to say
of course you are, don’t ever question it
and the other part
the part that is clawing at
will want to grab her by her shoulders
look straight into the wells of
her eyes until they echo back to you
you do not have to be if you don’t want to
it is not your job
both will feel right
one will feel better
she will only understand the first
when she wants to cut her hair off
or wear her brother’s clothes
you will feel the words in your
mouth like marbles
you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to
it is not your job
And it made me roar with confidence for my girl. And for her mama. She looked in the mirror after her haircut and she was feeling entirely herself. I had tears in my eyes. Not because I was sad about losing her hair, oh no, because I was so completely blown away by her sheer confidence in who she is. Who she is becoming.
Her brother was immediately at her side saying, “Bebe you look great!”
I texted pictures to her dad and Nikki and my mom and they all resoundingly said, “Tell her she looks beautiful!”
We went to a store this morning and a woman said, “I like her hair. I can’t believe you let her do that.” Right in front of my girl. I said, “She’s perfect. She can do whatever she wants with her hair” and the look on the woman’s face and then the look as I glanced at my girl and winked at her was a moment I’ll never forget. This is womanhood. This is what it’s about. We love and support each other.
It’s not her job to look a certain way for anybody else.
But when she walked into preschool today, her teacher and class were downstairs and immediately Ms. Roxanne said, “Doesn’t she look beautiful!” and all the kids heartily agreed. End of story. The little smile on her face was all I needed.
She wanted to take all kinds of pictures and who am I to stand in the way of that, so I let her have my phone. My little girl is growing in ways that I hope continue for the rest of her life. She didn’t have a voice in her head telling her she shouldn’t cut her hair. May she never ever have that small or even loud voice so many of us develop telling us oh no we’d better not, what will people think?
She’s the most beautiful, astoundingly perfect thing I’ve ever seen. And it has nothing to do with her new haircut, although she absolutely rocks it. As someone who has had that voice in my head as long as I can remember, I am taking a page from my four year old’s book – as I find myself doing often – and I just may cut my hair off too. I’ve had very short hair at times in my life and rocked it, so I’m not sure why I was so resistant to cut hers at such a young age. But I’m thankful to be here now. Let’s all cut our hair! Or grow it out! Or shave it or dye it or whatever the hell we want – or at least walk around with the audacity of someone who did just that and is feeling ourselves entirely.