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The Issue of Hair Length and Children

I hate the title of this blog. REALLY hate it.

Before having kids, I thought, if I have a little boy- he’s gonna be a kick-ass stylish little punk rock boy with a skateboard and a mohawk. There were a lot of things I thought before parenthood that turned out to be wrong. This was one of them.

It may have taken a while (a LONG while) to grow hair, but once each of my kids grew it, it suited them- and the longer it got, the more it seemed015 to suit them. Of course, this was just my opinion- as they hadn’t developed their own yet, so I figured, we’ll grow it, trim it, whatever it, until the day comes that they look at me and say “I want to change it.” It’s not my head, not my life- and it’s JUST HAIR, so why even worry about it right now when we could be worrying about things like the fact that my kid likes to crap and hide it and then plays “find the turd” twice a week, or the fact that the other one refuses to eat any solid food other than tomato slices. Hair? Who cares?

…Apparently a lot of other people. I’m lucky to have a non-judgy family who can accept just about anything (or at least shut the hell up about the things they don’t agree with), but we have fielded comments from strangers for YEARS.

There are the passer-bys who innocently mistake my boys for girls. I can accept that.  We’ve grown used to it. They mean no harm, and I don’t expect strangers to inspect my children’s clothes to figure out what gender they might be, even if I don’t think we should assume one way or the other based on hair length. It happens.

There are the Jokey Joke-makers, who think that joking about their long hair looking like a girl’s is totally hysterical, like we haven’t heard it before. It isn’t, and we have.

And then there’s the ones who say things to my kids purposely to either make them or me feel bad about the length of their hair. Things like “Oh you look like a little girl! You should be wearing a dress!” or “are you SURE those aren’t girls? REALLY?” or “boys should never have long hair! That looks awful and only girls should have long hair!”

I’ve heard all of the above and more, more times than I can even count. In person and online.

Some people feel bad upon correction, and some people continue to try to bully us. Sometimes we don’t even bother correcting them. My kids are confident. I have taught them over the years that their hair is their choice, and the length means nothing. If they like it, they can keep it, and if one day they don’t, they don’t have to. They can grow it and donate it, trim it, put it in a ponytail, whatever the hell they want to do with it, that’s okay- because at the end of the day, it is just hair, and it really means nothing other than a like or dislike.

It’s JUST HAIR- but through teaching them to be confident in their choice of hairstyle, I know that in the long run, I am teaching them to be confident in themselves. But still- it’s JUST HAIR.

If you’ve had a boy with long hair, or a girl with short hair- or even ever been one of those two- I get the strong suspicion you could have written all of the above.

It doesn’t matter what you like, or don’t like, or what you prefer. That’s all well and good, differences are what keeps the world interesting, but when you decide to comment on it in an attempt to make someone feel bad, it crosses a line. It’s judgmental at best, and bullying at worst.

I don’t personally like shaved heads on boys- but when I look at a picture of a boy with a shaved head, that isn’t what I see (unless it’s a photo of the kid getting  a haircut)- and if the length of a child’s hair is all YOU see when you look at their photo, there’s something wrong. Not with the kid. Not with the parent of the kid. But with you.

Ask yourself this- WHY does the length of someone’s hair matter to you? Why do you feel the need to make a comment about it? Why do you think it’s okay to not only pass judgment on something so insignificant, but to pass it on a CHILD? What purpose does it serve other than making yourself look like a Class A Asshole?

The more we force gender stereotypes on children, the more we force them to try to be something they are not. The more we push them away of finding out what they truly love, what they want to do, who they are meant to become. I know, it sounds silly- it’s JUST HAIR- but that’s just the beginning. It’s a stepping stone to guilting and bullying.

The title of this blog should be “The NON-issue of hair length and children”, but unfortunately it can’t be. Not until people learn to just let others be who they are, the way they are.

A boy can have long hair, a girl can have short hair- hell, you can even have a mullet (if it’s a super sweet one, I might even compliment it). It’s a NON-ISSUE. IT’S JUST HAIR. Your opinion on it is not important unless it’s the hair on your own damn head. LET IT BE.

Posted on December 29, 2014 by Holdin' Holden 13 Comments
Holdin' Holden

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  • this year I did a fundraiser for childhood cancer in honor of my friend who passed away after a year long fight. I pledge to shave my hair (I was a 16 year old girl, now 17) . My hair is still really short but I had barely anything for a few weeks and there was a mix of the most beautiful support and the most ignorant comments. I’ve been called a boy mockingly, “it”, and “that ugly cross dresser” among other things. It really is just hair. I did what I could to raise money for a cause I loved and cherished, and I don’t care what people think about it. It’s my head, my hair, and I will do what I want. I hate when parents force haircuts on their kids so they will fit into gender roles. So I have a lot of respect for you and this blog post. 🙂

  • I love this post. Why? Because I have 2 boys of my own, and they are complete opposites. My oldest loves a high n tight, extreme boyish things in all ways. My youngest loves what I call the pony-hawk. Shaved sides and back, the top nearly to his chin (we had to cut it all off in a school lice outbreak, but he is anxiously awaiting it to grow back). He will wear whatever he wants, including his older sister’s dance shoes and sparkly purse to match his multicolored pants. He usually pairs this with his leather jacket. Putting them together in a picture where I am not dictating what they wear for the yearly family photo is usually a disaster. But at the end of the day, they are my boys. Healthy, happy, smart and full of self confidence and the knowledge of who they are, despite what others tell them. And to me, that means I am doing a wonderful job of parenting them. Once they are fully grown, they may switch those roles in looks up, they may not. But either way, they already know who they are and to me, that’s the best thing in the world.

  • I loved this! And could not agree with you more!! Worse yet, I have twin boys, one with short, short hair and the other likes his hair long. So we always hear, “look your brothers hair is so nice and short” UGH!! And thats from family members!! My thing is, what else to kids have, at 11, to be themselves?? and like you say… IT’S JUST HAIR!!!

  • Really well said, when my son was 2 he had the cutest curls and I didn’t want to chop them, they looked so funky and suited him, but my brother would not let up, “you’ve already got two girls and now it’s looks like you have three!” It drove me f’n MAD! As you can tell it still annoys me thinking of it lol, eventually he had it cut when I was ready, my brother takes him now for most of his haircuts, but I insist they come back with it still a decent length! Sadly his curls disappeared, but he is still super cute (says the besotted mum).

  • A-f*cking-men

  • My twin nephews both have long hair, my son until he was 5 had long hair. ITS JUST EFFING HAIR!!!! My daughter had no hair until she was 3 and was on the reversed side of this issue. Strangers would tell me I needed to put a bow in her fuzz or have a headband on her, even if she was dressed entirely in pink from head to freakin’ toe. Gender and hair or clothes or looks should no longer be an issue dammit!!! If my little girl wants to rock a mow-hawk and skater gear and my boy wants to wear heels and be ferocious in that sparkly Elsa dress then by jeebus they should be allowed with no questions!!

  • Would someone walk up to a grown man and comment on his long hair “Are you sure you’re not really a woman?”.

    No.

    Then why the hell would someone do it to a CHILD?!

    Considering that in years gone by, everyone, man and woman, had long hair, why the hell does it matter to anyone these days?!

    I’ve had my hair short on occasions over the years and once, a comment was made that I looked ‘like a dyke’. Oh right, so exactly what does a dyke look like? Ffs, it’s not like it was even an insult to me, I just wondered how someone thought they could pass judgement when all it did was make them look like a complete twat.

    I’ve seen some boys with long hair and they look great, as I’ve seen girls with short hair and again, they look great. Unless your boys are asking to have their hair cut and YOU won’t let them, what the hell does it matter.

    If someone comes up to you and questions why your boys have long hair, it’s down to their own stereotypical beliefs and it’s never a reason for you to explain why! Would they also walk up to a Sikh child’s parents and ask if their child was actually a girl??

    Fuck stereotypes, my son likes My Little Pony – who says that shit is just for girls?

    Long hair, short hair, no hair. It’s just hair. Fuck it!

  • well said, seriously, that one got me. WHO CARES it’s not your head, heart, body, whatever!!

  • Lol… You are absolutely correct! I been fallowing you on my fb. I send out your blog post every time facetard err facedick err dang it to hell what’s it called? Oh yeah Facebook allows it.. The historical laughter from moms that been there done that..or going threw it… Thank you for being you! You brighten up my days 🙂 oh if your blog is real good I read it to my husband (he really loves the public bathroom ones) lol

  • As a mother to a soon to be 17 year old boy who had the most beautiful long blonde curly hair as a child I feel your pain. My son was always proud of his beautiful hair. We kept it well groomed. He was bullied in the first grade about his hair. He decided to cut it into a “BOY” style, and immediately regretted his decision. So, we started growing it back out, and by the time second grade came around he had his long beautiful hair back. From that point on, he never let anyone make fun of him about his hair. If they called him a girl, as some people would do just to get under his skin, he would PROUDLY look them in the eye and tell them he was a boy. If they continued to talk smack to him he would pull at his pants and happily ask them if they needed proof. He will be 17 soon, and by now he’s had tons of styles (currently he has a white man’s fro) and is very confident in who he is. There are no lasting affects of having everyone question his gender when he was little. He is a very loving person, full of compassion for others.
    So, as a mom that has been there ( and followed your blog for a few years now) let your boys be themselves. Love them just the same as you have been! Keep teaching them to be proud of who and what they are! I say BRAVO to you for giving them that freedom of self. To me, it seems like you are on the path to having intelligent young men who stand up to peer pressure, and will stand up for the little guy that hasn’t been taught to be proud of who they choose to be, instead of what society deems fit for them!!!!

  • I so totally agree with you. My son’s now-mother-in-law made her daughter break up with him in high school because his hair was past his collar. I ran into her at the drugstore months later and she asked me if his hair was still long. I came right out and told her I had a lot more things to worry about than his hair length. And now I have to bite my tongue so often because she gives buzz cuts to my 4 year old grandson (but my granddaughter has never had her hair cut), because this is what her religion says is right. And of course her mother.

  • Straight up. My baby boy didn’t really have any thing besides little ginger down on his head until he was two. As it grew in, it suited him more. We got our first haircut at Disney World (of course ) , but still he rocks the longer locks. It looks good on him. Do I get the “girl” comments? of course. Especially when he is out with his older but still largely identical sister. What can I say, I’ve got dominant genes. But that babyface now, will be a heartbreaker later. At 4 the dutchboy suits him well…and if the Sprouse twins are any indication…it’s going to suit him for a bit.

  • My boys had long hair until they graduated. Once when they were little, 2 and 6, I took them to a clinic for checkups. The younger one had a cold. The doctor- and I use that term lightly, told me he wouldn’t get sick so often if he had shorter hair. It was more hygienic. On his desk was a picture of his three daughters. They all had hair down to their waist. I pointed to the picture and said, “They must be sick all the time.” He said no; when girls have long hair it’s natural.