Short Hair/Don't Care
Our first guest writer, Holly Dickinson, is a masters student at U of T, and an all-round craftswoman. She's 22, incredibly brave, and a low-key comedian.
by holly dickinson
Being asked to draw a picture of my family was the most anxiety-inducing thing a teacher could ask of me when I was a young girl. It’s not because of my complicated family tree that doesn’t even come close to resembling the admirable nuclear family, but because I didn’t know how to differentiate my mom and dad with my rudimentary drawing skills.
Pants and a shirt? Check. Glasses? You bet. Short hair? Much to my dismay: yes.
I used to pray (yes, to God or Jesus or Mary or whatever) that my mother would grow out her hair, almost as much as I wished her for a puppy or a younger sibling. This is the trifecta that makes up my childhood dreams. If a genie appeared with a magic lamp, those would be my big three. Update: my mother reluctantly gave in and got us a dog, and Ginger (spoiled-as-can-be-Bichon-Poo) can undoubtedly double as a younger sibling as the most coddled member of the family.
The dream that never actualized was my mother trading in her short, spikey, dark brown hair for long, luscious Rapunzel locks. But you know what they say: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
In my 22 years of life, I never seriously considered cutting off my long, wavy, dirty-blond hair. I mastered the straightening iron, the curling wand, the natural look, the pony-tail, the top-knot, the Kardashian-inspired double French-braids, and everything in between. I dyed it brown, bleached it blond, and jumped on trends like feathers and colourful hair chalk. Why have short hair when long is so versatile, fun, and feminine?
Because it’s cool. Or at least I think it is. On a particularly bad hair day 10 weeks ago, I woke up, fed-up with my tangled, dry hair (courtesy of a “new year, new me” decision to bleach the shit out of it), and booked a hair appointment for no less than an hour later. To be completely honest, this decision was 40% impulse and 60% inspired by Katy Perry’s most recent hair transformation.
With a little bit of worry suppressed deep in my stomach, I put on my bravest face and convinced my hairdresser than I thought it through and I was absolutely sure that this is what I wanted (both of which were incredibly untrue). After an hour in the salon I was officially a member of the platinum pixie club.
I walked out of the hair salon feeling like a Firework (get it?). I was actively defying gender norms. I was like that trendy woman on the Ossington bus with short hair that I’d been admiring; maybe I would be the new trendy short-haired person that people noticed! I was like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Scarlett Johannson, my mom—and with that thought I made an exciting Facetime call to my mama, who has been urging my sister and I to cut our hair short for as long as I can remember. Needless to say, the new-do was received well by her.
The next morning, my hair looked like shit. It was sticking straight up in every direction possible, and my makeup-less face and pajama boxers and baggy t-shirt didn’t make things any better. Shit. I grasped at what was left of the female empowerment that pulsed through my body the day before, but instead all I was left with an aching insecurity.
I frantically flipped through my closet and categorized which clothes were too masculine to pair with my short hair. I made an inventory of my shoes and decided I would have to wear heels for the rest of time. I dug to the bottom of my makeup bag to my long-lost liquid eyeliner and defined my eyelid with a thick black line, punctuated with a playfully girlish wing. I threaded big silver hoops through each ear and vowed that feminine accessories would be by saving grace.
With these wardrobe constraints, I am a cool, collected, confident woman. However, I’m a graduate student by weekday and swimming teacher by weekend, which doesn’t leave much room for heels, hoops, and liner. My challenge is to accept myself and my short hair, which means redefining my femininity.
In my short time in the platinum pixie club, I have yet to figure it all out. Sometimes I let that aching insecurity dictate my attitude, my outfit, and my day. Sometimes I march down Queen West feeling like the tallest and strongest woman in the city. There’s no rhyme or reason. What I’m proud is that I no longer look in the mirror or run my fingers through my hair and experience regret. My phantom pony tail is finally gone and I’m ready for the world to know me as a short-haired woman—no matter how angsty it might make my future children.