What’s gendered about hair?

I have been very fortunate to have grown up in a household where no one has ever told me that they’d have preferred a boy over me. But, the world is not as nice, not always.

I remember many people, relatives and otherwise, telling me how my parents would grossly suffer because my sister and I would eventually get married and abandon them. How they will not have their own blood light their pyre, or perform their last rites.

Don’t question their wisdom of discussing such morbid stuff with two little girls, who didn’t even understand why a grave with a nice epitaph wouldn’t look cooler instead.

I’d have loved to say that I never let those people affect me. That I was wise enough to never take them seriously. But let’s face it — I was a child. And it hurt.

I remember asking my mother if I had an older brother she gave up for adoption (I was really into conspiracy theories), and if she and my father ever wished for a third child — that is, a boy. She’d roll her eyes at me, and say I should stop watching movies. Thanks mom, you are the reason I don’t know what happened to Kkkkiran in Darr.

Three of our neighbouring families also had two daughters each, around the same age as my sister and me. Well, I say had because all of them had a third child a couple of years apart and miraculously, all boys. My grandfather chuckled and asked me, “Are they raising three children or telling the girls that you’re now free of us?”

Made me think — am I really responsible for my parents because I don’t have a brother to do it? Is it okay for me to not feel responsible because I am a daughter? I mean, not my fault they couldn’t have a son, right?

My sister and I have always been very ‘brash’ and boisterous. We loved playing cricket as kids, we STILL speak and laugh too loudly, we still like Pokémon more than Barbie dolls, we collected cricket cards, knew how to assemble those brainy science puzzles.

Also, we had short hair. And we have been relentlessly teased for it.

hairOr, better known as, the boy cut hair. Our mother basically saved herself 14 years of having to tie our hair in two ponytails or *two too complicated looking* braids every morning before 7 a.m. (trust me, I still don’t know how to braid my hair). For the record, my hair has been braided only *once* in my 26 years of existence.

While my sister outgrew the short style, I still religiously get my hair chopped every six months. It’s easy to maintain, less of a hassle, and I think I look cute.

But, I have obviously had people tell me how “girls look better with long hair,” and how only “manly women and lesbians” like women with short hair. (Where are these women and why can’t they find me? Why am I still single?)

Recently, a very close friend of mine told me how a friend of hers called her a “wannabe lesbian” when she’d chopped off her hair for a more Claire Underwood-look.

And then, there are several men I know, and actors, who have rocked long hair and with finesse beyond my powers. If the Dothraki men can rock a braid, why can’t women go bald?


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