Farrah’s Hair and Women’s Work
Farrah’s hair was so cute, right? I mean the top-ponys, the pigtails and the bow clips:
This is what Farrah’s hair looked like “natural”:
Appearance aside, you pull one strand of hair out of one snotty nose or off of one crusty hummus cheek and you’ll RUN to get her hair cut. Instead I was running after her, clips and rubberbands in hand, trying to maintain some social construct of what a tiny girl should look like. She hated it. I hated it.
We’d all be in the bathroom together, but while brushing and tying her hair, her brother got to sit back watch, free of being manhandled. “Ain’t this some bullshit?” her shrieks would announce. “Goddamn right it is”, I’d agree, silently. Day after day we’d do this dance but I never mistook our routine for her willingness. Farrah does not care about pigtails. She cares about playing. Period. If Farrah could talk she’d ask to get her haircut like her brother, and she does talk; she speaks to me and I speak for her. As her Constant that is my role, my honor, and I had been letting her down.
Her first haircut was ridiculous. Scared of “going too far” I just got her ends trimmed.
Useless as it still required clips and rubber bands.
The second cut was better …
but as we were still in the chair I knew we should have gone shorter. Again it was fear that drove me out early: “Ohhhh! Not too short! *wince*” The back of her head was constantly a nest of tangles. While she finally had more freedom to play, I still had to work on that nest and it was a battle. It had to go.
Haircut Three, aka What I Should Have Done In The Beginning:
I’m probably telling you nothing you don’t already know or haven’t experienced yourself. I just listened to my kid and did what she could not do for herself. When and if she becomes invested in her appearance I will accommodate her choices. I am after all a Masterbraider.
What has struck me the most during this process is that it has been a process.
Do you know how much I thought about my son’s hair affecting others? Not at all. When it got too long and obstructed his vision I cut it. About Farrah’s Hair I have gnashed my teeth, looked inside my heart and defended my feminism. I have blogged about it.
Finally, I am reminded of what Jada Pinkett-Smith said about her daughter’s hair more than two-and-a-half years ago:
“Jada Pinkett Smith used Facebook to perform an awesome smackdown on people who have been trolling the parental implications of the ever-changing short hairstyle of 12-year-old Willow Smith:
“The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair, first the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain… It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires.”
This women’s work, the examples we set, they are critical in the lives of our children, of our daughters. Because hair.