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

December 19, 2012  |  

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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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