I chopped my hair off. I remember fantasizing as a young girl watching my brother and his friends play baseball – why can’t my hair be like that? I had a bob then but I can still vividly tap into that memory of wanting it all off.
Over the last 2 years or so, I started a running joke with different friends about a “public art” idea where just one more guy would hit on me aggressively and I would quickly pull out clippers beginning to shave my head while saying, “You think this is pretty?! YOU CAN HAVE IT!” For some reason, my twisted sense of humor has always found the idea of turning a frightful and uncomfortable moment for me rapidly into one for him HILARIOUS. It got to the point where I could just pretend to raise clippers to my head in an uncomfortable situation to kickstart a fit of laughter.
Sadly, this never came to fruition. Instead, on my 25th birthday, I calmly walked into a very hipster hair salon at 8:30AM and asked to see Michael, my stylist for the day. When I first approached him, he seemed a bit bored as if he was expecting me to say “just need a quick trim!”. I explained I wanted it off – all of it. I showed a few pictures and he perked up. Before he started, he snapped pictures for himself excited already thinking about the “after” shot.
At one point during the haircut, I noticed my fists were clinched. It wasn’t until then that I realized my entire body was extremely tense. I took a deep breath and smiled. It felt right. My mom goes to the same salon and when she went to get her hair cut soon after the stylist she worked with said, “You just don’t see people come in and do that at 8:30AM”.
I had a feeling that by chopping my hair off, it might cut down on unwanted male attention but I didn’t quite appreciate by how much. I cut my hair March 6th and over a month later, I can only think of one somewhat flirty/aggressive interaction with a random dude (even then hard to tell as he spoke Portuguese but gave me the creepiest wink). This blows my mind!
My entire approach to interacting with men has changed. It truly feels like I have an invisibility cloak that’s allowing me to navigate spaces in a brand new way. Today, I went to an outdoor workout section at Barcelona’s beaches – think pull-bars and a bunch of gym bros hanging out. Other than a few head nods and some staring when I actually started busting out pull-ups, I wasn’t really looked at in the way so many women know. I was invisible in a space where before I would not have been able to leave without at least one guy saying something to me. It was fantastic – I loved being ignored.
Cutting my hair has made me feel so free to the point that the idea of leaving the house feels different. It’s made me want to go and explore without feeling like a target all the time. I think what made being stared at and hit on by men that much worse was the fact that I’m queer. I really didn’t want their attention and nearly had to out myself every single damn time to get them to back off. I could be wearing the most masculine clothes walking along the beach and still SOMEHOW a guy would open his mouth to say something – “Damn girl, you must play soccer. Look at you.” Sometimes, I genuinely wanted to just say, “How on EARTH do you think I’m straight???”
I don’t know if I can ever go back to longer hair after experiencing this newfound freedom. I love being invisible like this. I love not feeling targeted. Some small part of me struggles with it though. When I was a target before, I could speak out and try to have a conversation around why it’s not okay or cool to give unwanted attention. Just before I left San Diego, I had a truly delightful conversation with a really nice but slightly misguided guy outside of my favorite coffee shop for nearly two hours about these exact sorts of things. We both learned new things from each other (he grew up in the foster care system and shared a ton about an experience I can’t conceptualize). I hope I can find some way to still have these conversations. In the meantime, I’ll be skipping through the streets of some new place not attracting any attention.