His Hair, His Decision.

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This post was written as a contribution to the Boys Have Long Hair, Too Blog Carnival.  The participating bloggers are sharing their experiences, struggles, and opinions surrounding having a son who has long hair.
There isn’t a day that goes by where someone doesn’t comment on A’s hair. I get it. They are golden ringlets that bounce when he runs and truly shimmer in the sunshine. I know some people just can’t help but tell us how beautiful his hair is. I don’t mind – people spend so much energy feeling all knotted up about their appearance, I love being able to see people celebrating this naturally beautiful boy.
I am not so ok with the people who like to ask A when he is going to cut his hair. I bristle when people ask him if he knows that he looks like a girl.
Why does hair define our gender? Why is it one more thing in an exhusting list of socially constructed physical elements that lock us into a gender, into a sex, into a defined sense of socially acceptable beauty.
It is a funny thing: hair and gender. Hair and power. Hair and beauty. There are still a number of societies on our planet where long hair on men is attributed to power, such as Sikh and some indigenous communities. Historically, it was the most powerful males who wore their hair long – often adorned and perfumed. For centures, only servants in many parts of Europe would cut their tresses. Many People of Colour attribute the cutting of hair with the history of slavery, and accounts of the Holocaust speak about the horrific shearing of jewish hair. Throughout human history, hair styles on males and females, whether long or short have been layered with meaning and cultural significance. Contemporary culture is telling me that by allowing my son to keep his long locks, I am inviting some kind of gender confusion. I don’t buy it.
People ask constantly when we are going to cut his hair. This hair that when wet reaches half-way down his back. Folks seem annoyed with us when we suggest that his hair will be cut when and if he ever feels like it. We have cut his bangs, twice at the salon, but usually by my stellar hair styling skills. Once, last year, he asked me to cut some of his curls, something which he never wanted repeated again.
We have asked him, in passing moments of us heading to the salon, if he wants a cut and he always says “no thanks”. So, no thanks it is.
It is incredibly important to me that I listen to A when he makes a decision about his body – and yes, that includes his hair. I have spoken before about body autonomy, and I can’t stress the importance of this concept enough, especially when thinking about it from the perspective of a preschooler (or newborn, toddler, kiddo, teen, etc). As a survivor of sexual assualt, there is almost nothing that is more important to me than A knowing that his body is truly his, and only he can make decisions about what happens to his body – and that includes hair cuts. Since he was newborn, I have considered this sacred idea of body autonomy. I always talked to him about what was happening when I would change him, and now I ask him if I can help him use the toilet, wash him, snuggle him or tickle him. I have never pressured him to kiss or hug relatives/friends goodbye and I have never let anyone put their hands on his body.
My thoughts are simple: if I teach him to honour and hold sacred his body, he will transfer this into adulthood. He will be more open to recognizing body rights of other people while making him more confident to assert his own rights to privacy and autonomy.
I suppose that listening to A’s voice in regards to his hair style is just one more check mark in the ‘gentle parent’ philosophy that I hold so dear, but, really….it is just about letting this kid be himself. And, heck – why would I want to cut these locks of gold from his beautiful head?
Be sure to visit the other blogs in this fun little blog carnival. A big thanks to Crayon Freckles for putting this carnival together!
*just to be clear: I am commenting on our own view of hair cuts on boys, and we make zero judgement of parents who do cut their children’s tresses. Like most parenting decisions, I make this one from instinct, and would never question another parents gut feelings about personal care.
We’d love it if you stopped by to read submissions by the other amazing carnival bloggers

My Happy Hippie Boy – Andie from Crayon Freckles shares why she and her husband have chosen to let their 3.5 yr old son’s hair go uncut. 

Boys Have Long Hair, Too: A Father’s View — Alex from Glittering Muffins says it happens that not only does his son, Nico have long hair, he as the father has no problem with it either. He personally does not find that long hair emasculates a boy (or adult alike)…

Boys Have Long Hair, Too: A Maman’s View — Valerie from Glittering Muffins son has been called a cute little girl for about a year and a half (he’s 2.5 yo). So she corrects people and tells them he’s a boy and loves his long hair (Once in a while she even throws in a “he also loves to watch Strawberry Shortcake”). 

Boys Have Long Hair, Too –The Monko from Taming the Goblin explains why she likes it when her son is mistaken for a girl and asks the question “Do mums of girls feel this guilty when their child doesn’t like having their long hair brushed?”

Sampson — Kellie from Our Mindful Life reflects on how long hair gives her son power.

Trials and Tribulations of a Boy with Tresses — Carolyn from Mama’s Little Muse talks about her experience in raising a boy with hair too beautiful to cut short. It is about how people have reacted; how she has created keepsakes featuring his hair; and also how they have arrived at a game that they play so that the hair brushing experience goes more smoothly.

His Hair, His Decision — Lyndsay from Our Feminist {Play}School asks the question “why shouldn’t a boy have long hair?”. Her ‘answers’ are historical, personal and family-specific.

Boys Have Long Hair, Too — Sarah from This is Me…Sarah Mum of 3 is mum to 3 children a boy aged 10, girl aged 8 and a boy aged 5, Always loving the longer hair styles for boys her two boys have had many different hair styles over the years but always seem to resort back to the longer locks even against the negative comments they sometimes recieve.

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