being a mom
I Don’t Give A F**k What My Husband Thinks About My Hair, But Thanks For Asking
I’ve never been afraid to experiment with my hair. It’s naturally a chocolate brown, but I’ve colored it orange, red, black, blonde, and most recently, purple. I’ve had hair down to my butt, side bangs, front bangs, angled bobs, and even a really awful haircut in sixth grade that looked like I walked into the salon and said, “Give me the Jonathan Taylor Thomas circa 1992, please.”
The point is, I like playing with my hair and I’m not shy about trying something new and different, no matter how many times my mother tries to warn me that such-and-such hairstyle is going to make my face look fat. I remain unmoved, steadfast in my commitment to doing what I want.
Most recently, I decided to dye my hair purple and then chop it all off pixie style. The purple didn’t last long because it fades really quickly, but the pixie cut? Not going anywhere. I absolutely love it. It feels spunky and fresh, I no longer walk around in a frumpy bun unsure of what to do with my long locks, and I’m inspired to make bolder, more exciting fashion and makeup choices because my hair makes me feel so good. Going for the full chop was definitely the right choice for me, and its been a welcome boost to my self esteem.
There is one downside, though, and that’s people asking me constantly how my husband feels about my hair. It happens every time I do something “crazy” to my hair, which as we’ve established, is all the freaking time. It usually begins with a friendly, well-meaning hairdresser asking in hushed tones if my husband knows what I’m doing and what he thinks about it, as if trimming some hair off my head or dying it a funky color is akin to taking a second job as a part-time axe murderer. Next thing I know, the same sentiments are mirrored by friends, neighbors, moms at my daughter’s dance class, the lady at the bank, cashiers who recognize me at the grocery store. What does your husband think, they ask. Does he like it? Does he want you to change it? Will you keep it this way? Will your husband like it if you do? This time someone even asked me what my husband thought about my decision to get a “mom haircut.” I mean, seriously?
I understand dramatic haircuts can be a big change, and I’ll even concede that it’s a natural response for people to wonder about the reactions of those closest to you, but that’s never what people ask about. No one asks what my daughter thinks, or my sister, or my best friend. They ask about my husband because I am a heterosexual married woman, which means I owe it to my partner to look a certain way and to embody what he finds attractive. A failure to comply with traditional beauty standards signals something to the world about who I probably am and how men probably feel about me, and they need to know whether or not I’ve gone through the necessary procedures to ensure my husband still wants to stick his penis in me.
Of course, they aren’t asking me these questions with that specifically in mind. It isn’t some sort of conspiracy. It’s just a natural response; small talk, if you will. Like when people ask really invasive, offensive questions of pregnant women. I can excuse a lot by reminding myself that people are just trying to be nice, but what does it say about us as a society when our idea of small talk centers so heavily around the male gaze, whether or not we stand in defiance of commonly accepted beauty ideals, and how men feel about that?
I’ll be honest: what my husband thinks about pixie cuts factored exactly zero percent into my decision to get one. It’s not that I don’t care if my husband is attracted to me; it’s just that I don’t believe his gaze trumps my own. I would never tell my husband not to wear, do, or be anything that makes him truly happy. We’ve built a life together. My attraction to him extends pretty damn far beyond a haircut. If I feel confident and happy in the way I look, I’m not hurting anyone else, and I’m not hurting myself, why shouldn’t I be afforded that same freedom?
I give everything to my family, my work, my husband, and my kids. Even outside of the usual household and parenting duties, I am constantly thinking about everyone else and what they’d like, what they need, or what I can do to make their lives easier. I stay up late into the night to work if need be so I don’t have to take time away from my kids. I buy the junk food my husband likes, even though I don’t want it in the house. I watch Caillou. I haven’t peed or applied makeup by myself in three years. When I make pancakes, I give my husband and kids the pretty ones and leave the mangled test pancakes for myself. I care down to the smallest detail. I’m almost always physically and mentally exhausted, and I don’t say that to make a martyr of myself. It’s just a reality when you have a job, a home, and a family. Most things just aren’t about you or your needs anymore.
My hair is one thing that will always be very much about me. My body? My general sense of style? Yup, all about me too. My body doesn’t belong to my husband, my kids, or anyone else, and I don’t owe it to anyone to look a certain way or adhere to a certain standard of what is considered beautiful and attractive by society. Some days I rock hip clothes and a bold red lip. Sometimes I don’t wear make-up for weeks or months on end. My hair has been most colors and lengths. My pants fluctuate in size. All of these things are pieces and expressions of a self that is too often relegated to last place, and I won’t surrender control of myself to anyone else. If my husband doesn’t like short hair, he can start growing his out.