My hair and I have always had a complicated relationship. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a boy, or to at least look like one. My mother insisted on having my hair long. You see, her mother, who had seven children, always kept her hair what she considered “short” but I would consider medium length. So those of you playing at home, my mother felt wronged by her mother’s dictating of her hair, so she made my hair be as she would’ve wanted it as a small child. Irony is not a word in my mother’s vocabulary.
Anyway, as a kid I had long hair, and I hated it. My dad didn’t know how to comb it, my mom sometimes was rushed, it hurt. And what’s worse, when I hung upside down on the swings, my hair would fall in the dirt and need to be washed again. Also, hairbands were often too tight but loose hair was too thick and got snarled.
When I was a bit older I began to make peace with my long hair. Well, I began to see characters who had long hair who I wanted to emulate. The orthodontist’s assistant commented that my hair looked like the gorgeous hair in shampoo commercials. When you are an awkward teenager, have braces, and have had severe acne since about age 11, having some feature that is “great” is nice. So it was good.
Then I found out that my hair can be used against me. I don’t really have any memories of my younger brother pulling my hair or anything, but my Dad’s need for control over my life lead him to drag me out of the house by my long pony tail. I got my hair cut in a cute 90s Meg Ryan style cut after that. It was adorable, and acceptable as it was the 90s.
Then during college I began dating my Ex. I was still trying to be straight at that point. He said he liked my hair long. I shrugged and went with it. He was nicer to me than most people had been at that point, and having long hair is a small price to pay when you’re too socially awkward to try experimenting with your image much. The really weird part was when we sat together and watched Saturday morning cartoons (yes, we were weird), he’s sometimes try to eat a random strand of hair, but he didn’t ever pull them out or do anything that actually hurt, so I just ignored it.
I grew it so long that the only reliable tangle-free style I could manage was braided up in a bun. It would often not completely dry between washings. But I washed it daily, it was a very time consuming venture and I became an expert at unclogging the shower. When my ex cheated on me after I did poorly in school, I was able to braid it, and cut it long enough for Locks of Love to use, and yet still have a decent length of hair.
After I lost the Ex and graduated college and began working I began dying my hair. My hair is naturally brunette. I died it a natural-ish red, probably a tribute to Willow, I got into Buffy fandom a bit late, and Willow was the first lesbian character I really liked, Tara reminded me of myself in the shyness and the stuttering. They both wore long skirts like I enjoy wearing.
My wife convinced me to stop dying my hair, which is fair enough, I don’t miss red hair at all. After I got married I got my hair cut short, super short, a pixie cut. My wife hated it (probably justifiably). I had no idea how to style it and the punky stylist at Great Clips who cut it didn’t give me any advice. I was at a job where I had to wear a hairnet often at work. I ended up just wearing a lot of hair bands and grew it out quickly. I was told that it didn’t go with the shape of my face well. I avoid looking at pictures of myself or myself in the mirror, so I don’t know. Anyway…
Now I have shoulder length hair I keep tied back in a ponytail. I feel compelled to arrange my workout schedule to minimize the number of washings required as it tangles easily and using conditioner just makes me feel gross. Anyway, my hair and I have a complicated relationship.