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Personal: Haircut hell redux, this time with a happier ending

2 Nov

I got my hair cut today.  Super short after many months of growing it out for a combination of reasons that have included curiosity, laziness, and the acute awareness that people are generally kinder to me when I have long hair, even if it’s, I’m pretty sure, less attractive on me than short hair.

The thing is, the longer my hair, the less kind I am to myself, and it shows, I think, in everything from my carriage to my ability to care for it.  It’s no coincidence that the first text I got from a friend after posting the new look to the Internet mentioned that I looked less tired.

But getting my hair cut is hard.  Salons never want to cut it as short and as masculine as I tend to want it, even out here at the intersection of Park Slope and Green-Wood Cemetery.  For you non-New Yorkers, that means I live at the crossroads of DIY hipsters and lesbian mommies.  Yet, the stylists who are willing to chop it off don’t necessarily know how, and this is complicated by my hair texture — extremely thick, extremely coarse, and pretty damn curly.

This time around, I decided to go to Decatur & Sons, based on the random Twitter recommendation of Elliott Sailors, a professional model in her 30s currently getting a ton of media attention for chopping off her hair and pursuing male modeling to extend her career.

While knowing where to go, and having an idea of what I wanted should have made it easier, it was still complicated for me to feel like I had a right both to be in the very male space of Decatur & Sons and to ask for something I only knew was sort of a choice because of someone who is basically beautiful for a living.

While some of my many jobs are sometimes about being paid for what I look like, I’m 41, going grey, and still struggle with having always been striking at best, which is a thing boys often say about girls they’re not comfortable admitting their desire for.  It’s a silly wound, one perhaps over-generalized for the sake of the literary, but most of us harbor wounds like this at least sometimes — sharp and strange and filled with narrative primacy.

However — and the point of this story is totally the however — Thorin did an awesome job with my hair (so much hair, it took forever!), and my comfort, and knowing how to tailor the ideas I had to both my hair texture and the length of my face.  I will so be keeping this look up, with, I suspect, decreasing amounts of trepidation.

Long ago and faraway here I took a break from my pop culture ramblings to rage post about my need for a barbershop for dykes.  In terms of comment volume it’s one of this site’s most popular posts ever.  As such, I figure today’s adventures qualify as a valid update.

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4 Responses to “Personal: Haircut hell redux, this time with a happier ending”

  1. thetigerisariver November 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Wow, I can intensely relate to this.
    My hair has been growing out steadily for at least a year due to my inability to go to the hairdresser. I never have the energy to argue for the length I want, nor the actual confidence. My mother drilled into me that my neck is *fat* and that hair needs to conceal it. I don’t even know what that means. I know I’m fat. Everyone knows I’m fat. It’s not like it’s a secret.
    The other thing is, that with long hair and reasonably feminine clothes I can barely pass as an actual adult, female and “curvy” and I worry that a short haircut will firmly position me in “what the fuck is wrong with that fat weirdo” and the very little respect I can extract from public servants and doctors will dissappear.

    (I am so tired of this hair, though. It’s making me dysphoric and if I knew of a salon where I could expect reasonable treatment I would be there in a heartbeat)

    Yep. Here for writing about fandom, death, Glee and hair hang-ups 🙂

    (P.S.: the only person who ever gave me an acceptable haircut was a co-worker from a factory. He was self-taught when it came to hair-dressing but he understood my gender, I think, and that counts)

  2. TeileDesGanzen November 2, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Congratulations on the new haircut which does indeed look great on you! I can’t believe that it’s still so hard to find a salon where female-perceived people can get their hair cut in a masculine style, and in New York at that.

    But then I’m thoroughly out of touch with what’s going on in salons because I’ve been cutting the hair of my butch partners (and several friends of a similar gender) at home for nearly twenty years now. I credit my late-teen punk years with the initial inspiration to take haircuts and hair colors into my own hands. I’m not cutting hair on a professional level, but apparently that curiosity and general DIY attitude made me learn how to wield a pair of scissors and a clipper well enough to not embarrass anyone and occasionally make people extremely happy with my ability to fulfill their gender-related hair desires. And even when money wasn’t a reason anymore to ask me for yet another haircut (I’ve always cut hair as a gift, or on a trade/barter basis, never in exchange for money), my haircuts apparently still were better than what salons would provide.

    My pride in my skills aside, I have to admit that I would much regret giving up cutting their hair because to me the DIY haircut in someone’s kitchen or bathroom is such an iconic part of queer history that I’m happy to connect to and continue (which doesn’t mean that we don’t still need salons that are willing and able to cut the hair of their queer/gender-nonconforming customers to their satisfaction!).

    On a related note, I also cut my hair this year (or rather, let my partner cut it, because I apparently don’t trust salons even with my femme hair) to a high one-sided undercut to my otherwise nearly waist-length hair, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much being more visibly queer (because that hairstyle apparently reads as queer) has improved my general well-being. I did not expect that, but it’s why this haircut (which is lovingly kept well-clipped by my partner) remains one of the absolute best decisions I made this year.

  3. Anton November 2, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Nothing competes with the joy of getting the hair taken care of in a satisfactory way. If i had any idea how much better everything would be once I got this hair cut, I would have done this ten years ago. I’m happy for you! You do always rock the hell out of the super short hair.

  4. Elizabeth November 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    If at some point you need another hair stylist recommendation, my former bandmate’s sister K. is a NY stylist who I would trust with just about anything. Not only is she a queer woman with a great sense of aesthetics who seems to be comfortable with gender divergence, she’s got great technical skills and she used to work at Deva (the curly salon.)

    At some point when I don’t have to worry about looking like my headshots, I have every intention of sitting down in her chair and saying “do something fun!” I’ve seen what she does with her sister’s hair when she has free reign and… wow.

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