Serious Question: Why Are Other People So Invested In My Hair?

December 19, 2012  |  

Source: Shutterstock

I’m not one of those people who thinks, “it’s just hair,” when it comes to my mane and what I do with it, but I do happen to believe it’s just my hair. And that’s why I’m so confused as to why other people have become so concerned with what I do to my hair, particularly when it comes to anything that has to do with scissors.

Since my hair has gotten to a considerable length, I’ve come to the conclusion that some people must be living vicariously through my locks, although I still find it a bit perplexing that one of the main culprits of these hair checkups was my 40-year-old gay male neighbor. I could literally see him one day with my hair down and he would comment on how long it had grown. If I had my hair in a bun the very next day, he’d hit me with, “how long is your hair now?” When I’d respond, “same as it was yesterday,” he’d suggestively ask, “are you gonna let it keep growing?,” to let me know that was his preference. I’d say “I don’t know” and then turn the conversation on the curly toupee he had sitting on top of his head as he tried to convince me of how quickly his hair was “growing.” And don’t let him notice a little length missing — it was as if someone stole the holy grail out the Vatican  as he grabbed the back of my hair, screaming in disbelief,  “why did you cut your hair?!” Can I live?! Better yet can I get a trim,  some layers? I mean, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to eff up your day by minimally changing the way my hair dusts the back of my shirt. Apologies.

My grandmother was actually one of the first people to hit both me and my mom with the long hair, you should care mantra. My mom hasn’t had long hair since probably the late ’80s so you’d think my grandma would be used to the cuts by now. Unfortunately she’s not. Whenever my mom would cut her hair a bit shorter, she’d get hit with that long, “I know something’s different about your hair but I don’t like it so I’m trying to figure out what to say to you”  looks. Unfortunately, my grandmother typically says what she’s thinking, which is “that looks nice but I like it better longer” as my mom gives her that, “my hair hasn’t touched my shoulders since ’89, let it go” look.

When it comes to me, my grandmother cant understand why I don’t wear my hair down more often and so when I actually do she makes it a point to let me know she likes my hair like this with the understood note: not when it’s slicked back, in a ponytail, in a bun, or any other style where I cant see it all. Her concern, read low key obsession, is so bad when she missed a speech I was giving to new college and high school graduates this past summer, her first question wasn’t “how did it go” but “how was your hair.” When I said it was in a bun she hit me with the type of “oh” you’d give someone who just told you you won $2 on a scratch off lotto ticket.

It’s puzzling to me how the temporary changes someone makes to their hair can cause such emotional reactions from people who don’t have to deal with that choice. I hate to go all 2nd grade cliche on you but it really is like little kids say, “if you don’t like it, you don’t have to look at it.” And I get it, if you’re more than happy to accept people’s compliments about your hair, you have to be willing to take the good with the bad, except it’s rather baffling to realize people are just as invested in your hair as you are. If they were your hairdresser that would be one thing — a great thing, actually — but these people are essentially bent out of shape because they have one vision for your hair and you have another and they have no control over it.

I can’t say I let these people stop me from making certain style choices but it is annoying to know that instead of people complimenting you on a new look, you’ll be bombarded with questions like, “why did you cut your hair?” Or for some, why did you color it or braid it or weave it up or whatever it is. I won’t even get started on the intrusive, “why are you still relaxing your hair?” questions. Oh well, the truth is those hair hangups are their issue and not mine. It’s my hair and I’ll cut, ponytail, color, gel and weave it up if I want to.

Do you find that people are way too invested in your hair choices? Does their opinion affect how you style your hair?

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  • I find it amusing when I change my hair up and someone tells me that they preferred what I had before. I always thing and….?


  • CollegeCurly

    I did my big chop in October after about 4 months of transitioning. I’m in college so nobody knew not even my roommate because I did it when she was gone. When my friends came to visit me at my dorm my one friend was almost in tears because my hair was cut. (I had in rope twists during my transition) She was really upset it was actually funny to me. I couldn’t believe that they were so concerned about my hair. Then when I came home for Christmas break my family went crazy saying how I needed a texturizer and all types of stuff. It was crazy! I just ignore them because it’s my hair and I love my little spiraly curls

  • Candacey Doris

    I’m a little guilty of doing this to other people. But not on length. Hair styles. I love to see people in hair styles that flatter them. I hate seeing people with hair that’s been gelled into submission, either curly or pasted to their head. I know it’s simple, but it’s so…yuck. Length is your own business though. So is curly or natural. O just want it to look good and be taken care of. No fried, dried out hair styles.

    When it comes to me, my mother likes my hair long, my father thinks i would look good bald. I don’t care to be bald, and My hair may be long, but since i’m transitioning i may have to go short soonm

  • If you aren’t kicking in on my weekly hair appointments then you really have no say in how I wear my hair. Find a new hobby.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    Most of my coworkers are white, so they are so tickled when I come with straight here one day, and literally the next day with wet curls and the day after that, a full blown fro. They think it’s entertaining and never fail to remind me how much they like the versatility that black women can achieve with their hair that they can’t * shrug*. . .

    • IllyPhilly

      I understand,. I dealt with that when I had micros for the first time at work. “OMG, are those mini dookie plaits?” Yup, real comment.

      • Ms_Sunshine9898

        I can do you one better: White Man, ” Miss! Miss! Your braids are coming undone!” The first time he had seen microbraids lol!

        • IllyPhilly


  • realadulttalk

    Maybe people are trying to tell you something. I’ve had friends get unflattering cuts that prompted me to say “oh, you got your hair cut?” –that’s me saying I don’t like your hair without saying I don’t like your hair. So if that same person is letting that hair issue grow back I might say “oh, you’re letting your hair grow” that’s my passive-aggressive way of saying “I’m glad you realized that was a mess and are fixing that” Maybe you look better with your hair down–everyone doesn’t look good with the slicked back look. Or maybe it looks like you don’t care when it’s back–a quick hairstyle often looks like a quick hairstyle. Maybe it’s not an investment in your hair but a statement about your appearance.

  • AnnT

    It’s not just hair. Most people, men and women alike, are way too invested in what other women look like or should look like.

  • Nope

    Women care too much about what others think. Everyone isn’t going to like everything you do, but that’s life. But women put way too much energy into preventing even one person from thinking negatively about them in any way. That’s the main difference between male h*es and female h*es. Men don’t care if 20 people know, women don’t even want 1 person to know.

  • IllyPhilly

    IDK, it makes people feel good to try and find a flaw in another human being? I have no clue because I’m one of those people who hates seeing the same outfits and hair styles on various folks. I’m all for being an individual so if you walked up to me with a quarter of you head shaved off, another in an afro, and the other hair braided or relaxed, Imma say, “Get ’em!”.

    • That sounds like a hairdo Troop would have worn, back in 90s. 4 in 1hairstyling.

      • IllyPhilly

        Wow. LMAO.

  • Na Na

    Uggggh my coworkers! I thought is was because we come from different cultures and my hair is a very different texture and I can style it in many ways that they cannot. However I get so tired of the, oh you changed your hair today, new hairstyle huh, how did you do that, how long does that take, wow your hair is different everyday…….Its like aaahhhhhhh WHO CARES!