On Long Hair and Being Yourself

I recently went through the torturous decision regarding whether or not to chop off my hair. The last time I made such a venture I was in middle school. ‘Twas brave and exciting, and made me look much older than my adolescent self. Now, being in college and having spent the last few years wrestling with that awkward medium length, I have finally achieved the magical, past-the-shoulders, brushing-my-elbows goal. The climax of posh, white girl style, so to speak. In the same way, though, I have found myself frustratingly, suddenly, dare I say it, fitting in. A plague on my non-conforming soul, to have such lengthy tresses is a bow to tradition and invisibility. How, after all, will I stand out when I am encumbered with these almost-red, almost-blond, almost-brown locks? I won’t, surely. I have lost any appeal I had previously amassed in a wave of old dye and lazy buns. This ‘do would not do.

So I struggled. Although only briefly and occasionally mentioning this plight to my dear companions, I fought my internal self. I do like the versatility of long hair. It promises to hold daring curls or to swirl into a messy bun when the mood strikes. Boys seem to like it – they certainly never have complained before. But are these benefits worth the potential Typical White Girl Persona that threatens to be adopted? Could I sacrifice my daring, chic look for comfort and old-fashioned appeal?

It seems that I have come to a conclusion. I’m not sure when I realized it. Perhaps when I sat among the surely dwindling audience members in AU Chapel. Or rather during a lengthy and heart-felt discussion with my dear friend Lizzie Loveland. Or maybe it was this afternoon, when I walked outside and felt the comfort of my hair settle around my neck and down my sweater. It could’ve been a culmination of moments, little thoughts meandering into my unconscious mind, reminding me that yes, you are still creative and talented and unique and intelligent and witty and confident and dynamic, even though your hair is not.

To the outside world this may seem like a silly issue. And in the grand scheme of things, it probably is. No one is going to sit at my funeral and talk about the length of my hair. I know that. But as I grow into myself, I find that it is important to recognize what I find important. I need to ask myself: why do I care about the length of my hair? Why do I associate so many unrelated identifiers with it? Most of all, what can I do to show the world that I am more than my hair?

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