I have not cut my hair since I was ten. Except for one trimming in eighth grade. That's seven years of unrestricted hair growth, seven years of long wavy brown splitting at the ends from so much combing.
It was the last year I was to go to a family conference week as a child, and the week before I had gotten a haircut. I had asked for shoulder-length and gotten earlobe-length, and nothing would console me. When my parents told me we weren't going back to the conference ever--we'd been going since before I was born--I resolved not to cut my hair as a protest. Ten-year-olds-get stubborn ideas.
It eventually became not a protest but a matter of procrastination. Well, I'd set one up, but I always remember to do it on Sundays. Or I don't know what style I want.
I never knew what style I wanted, never knew how I wanted to present myself. Still don't. I don't buy into gender much anymore, but here I am with female pronouns and long hair, a lacy female name with proclivities for the female and neutral identities. But every now and then I imagine myself a dreamy, fuzzy-image man, where I stretch and run hands through hair, studying a poem or the grain of the wood on the table. I catch my reflection in the black-night bay window, and there I am: a gawky girl with glasses, standing a bit hunched, hair drawn into a bumpy ponytail that swishes almost at her waist. Damn, I think. That's me? Oh well.
For the record, my hair is curly at the ends, but when I cut it short before, it frizzed out in all directions. I never use mousse--only conditioner and a hairbrush. It curls to my twirling fingers. I can control it now, know when and how to brush it.
My appearance is the path of least resistance, an "Oh that looks nice" from an aunt or friend or mother or cousin and $10 off my mom's credit card. How many piles of clothes have I tried in peeling-paint changing rooms. One shirt--I still remember it--was very baggy, dark blue with a black print saying, long sleeved, gender neutral.
Gender neutral. How come all the shims look more on the side of boy than girl? How come skirts are female but pants are both? Why must genderqueer females migrate to boy? Is there some other fashion option that I don't know about? What would it be? My ideal outfit, I think, would be britches, but that is beyond the level of labeled.
So if I don't really influence how I look daily, if my breasts are too big to bind, if I don't even know the first step in looking like a girl, let alone a boy, how should I cut my hair? That is the question at hand. My hair is too long for integrity, but I don't know what my integrity is.