My Body My Decisions

For years I wanted to cut my hair short. Not because I identify as queer but because I love short hair. I think short hair is beautiful. I think short curly hair is beautiful and that is the look I wanted.

My brother hates short hair on women. He believes an attractive woman has long straight hair and that this is somehow the ideal. The last time I was home in March I told him I was thinking of cutting my hair short and we talked about how if I stayed in GA for the summer then I wasn’t allowed to cut my hair. This was our deal, for all that it was worth, though I didn’t plan on sticking to this agreement. I didn’t take it too seriously.

Yesterday I cut my hair to my chin, nothing radical, but a good six inches of hair was hacked off and lay in clumps on the floor of Great Clips. And I knew that no matter how much I loved this new style I did not want my brother to see. He would not approve and I would be less-than in his eyes.

But when I Skyped my mother, she of course called my brother over to see my hair cut. He told me flat out: “Your hair is too short.” He asked me: “Why???” Why would I ever do something with my body that he thinks makes me less attractive to men? I wonder.

It didn’t matter that my room mate told me my hair looked adorable, or that my mother told me I looked beautiful. My brother felt he had the right to command my body and my decisions.

So I told him flat out: “I want to hit you right now. You have no right to say what I can and cannot do with my hair.”

He told me, “But I don’t like it.”

“That doesn’t matter. Your opinion has no bearing.”

“None?” He spoke in a soft voice, confused.

“No, I don’t care what you think.”

Silence. For a few moments neither of us spoke as we had nothing more to say until we said our rote I love you’s and hung up.

I am not going to lie, it felt great to tell my straight, white cissgender brother that his opinion does not matter. It felt great to silence someone who so often has the power to silence others. Maybe I am being petty, but even for something as small as a haircut, I am standing my ground and standing up for my rights as a woman.  On a much smaller scale, this is what the war on women comes down to: men believing they know what is right for a woman. And whether it is reproductive rights or as simple as a haircut, no one knows what is best for you, but you.

There is no one standard of beauty. I do not need to adhere to my brother’s  ideas of what a woman should be because they revolve around a world of heteronormativity. But even if I were straight, my decisions are my own and no one has the right to demand I change how I wish to present myself.



2 thoughts on “My Body My Decisions

  1. Hmm…

    Firstly, of course you have a right to cut your hair.

    Secondly, your brother doesn’t have the right to tell you what you can or can not do with your body.

    However, to imply that this is another example of “THE WAR ON WOMEN” is a bit extreme. Men have the right to have an ideal woman in mind, just like women. And if we take homosexuality out of the picture for a moment (to make my point easier); let’s assume ALL men liked long-haired women more than short-haired. This would not change the fact that women STILL have a choice what they will do with their hair.

    – A portion of women would say, “I’m gonna keep my hair long because I wanna attract men”, giving this group the best chance to find a man because their pool of males would be larger. They’d have “the pick of the litter” (so to say). Are these women “submitting to the control of men”? Absolutely not! They merely want to be as attractive as possible to the opposite sex.

    – Then a portion of women would say, “I’m not gonna have men dictate how I should keep my hair” (as if this is dictating…but nevertheless); consequently giving this group the worst chance to find a man because the male pool is much smaller (statistically many men would STILL be in this pool because many wouldn’t care even with a preference for long hair). If this group of women still seeks a man, their choices are slimmer because they are less attractive as a consequence. Is this consequence a man’s fault? No…the women made the free choice to cut their hair, and men have the right to have a preference of woman.

    So it’s about sexual consequences, not sexual control. Most (hetero) women know deep down that they’ve gotta be attractive to men to propagate the species, and the same is true with (hetero) men, which is why men try so much to be/look successful, healthy and like an alpha male.

    Whether or not men like women with long hair has nothing to do with dictating what women should do with their bodies, but has everything to do with our *own* (equal) freedom to have a preference. And to deny men that preference makes feminists no better than misogynists because you’re not seeking equality for the sexes, but control over men; to dictate what a man SHOULDN’T prefer for his ideal woman.

    So I think it’s unfair to imply that men are “controlling” if they think women look more attractive with long hair.

    You absolutely have the right not to adhere to your brother’s ideas of what a women should look like, but he has an equal right to have them…and I know of no man in society that demands his ideas of appearance *on* women. If anything, it’s *women* who make demands on other women’s based on ideas of they should look.

  2. Well done!. Your brother is of course allowed to find long hair attractive, but why he thinks that his sister has to adhere to his standards of beauty is beyond me. If you are happy with your looks, he should be!

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