How My Hair Shaped My Identity

One of my favorite things about my look is my pixie cut. If you asked me to describe it, I would say: short, edgy, and professional. As a disabled woman, it’s effortless and time-effective. I have the advantage of waking up and not having to brush my hair if my bedhead isn’t too visible. Some days I add a little style, but I love having a hairstyle where it’s easy to manage. 

My ultimate hair goal, however, is to shave my head and have a buzzcut. Jazzmyne Jay, a BuzzFeed content creator, is my inspiration; she’s given me the courage to experiment with fashion. I’ve wanted to do it for a while; I’ve just been waiting for the right time.

Honestly, I’ve been waiting for an accepting work environment. I want to work in an environment where diversity is valued, where there is an open-mindedness to individuals who have disabilities and endure mental illness, and where there are strong core values and beliefs; where these things are instilled in the company. In the past few years, I’ve been trying to live intentionally. I’ve always been authentic in who I am, but I’ve tried to be more intentional these last few years with everything that I’ve been through. It’s hard to go into spaces where you are accepted, however, you feel that you still have to hold back a part of your identity, or when you have to hide your entire identity because you are not sure of the reaction, especially in this political climate where you’re often discriminated against for being LGBTQ+

 

In the past few years, I’ve been trying to live intentionally. I’ve always been authentic in who I am, but I’ve tried to be more intentional these last few years with everything that I’ve been through.

 

Chopping off all your hair is a way for you to start afresh and emerge a new person. I feel rejuvenated and on lighter feet after every cut. My hair wasn’t weighing me down anymore. Look at it this way: it’s like when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Each haircut is as if I’m escaping from all of the anxiety and the depression that has happened since the last haircut to start a new season.

Society pushes many stereotypes about the short-haired woman: she’s damaged, she’s aggressive, she’s manly, she must be a lesbian. As a society, we attach so many parts of a person’s identity to their hair: their sexuality, history, gender, and even personality, and when women have short hair, people tend to think of that as almost being political. She’s making a statement. Long hair is depicted as feminine and beautiful, whereas short hair is not. 

 

Look at it this way: it’s like when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Each haircut is as if I’m escaping from all of the anxiety and the depression that has happened since the last haircut to start a new season.

 

As an individual with a disability (I have cerebral palsy and hemiplegia), I do not have the use of my right arm. Because of this, I have difficulty styling my hair, and what began as a move for more independence became a move for self-expression. I had long hair up until college, when I started getting pixie cuts. In high school, I’d had to ask my family to help me style my hair (ponytails, braids, etc.). On my own, I could get at best pin the bangs out of my face. Disabled women’s hair is just seen as yet another inconvenience in terms of independence, and at times we aren’t even given a choice around our hair length and style.

When I attempted to pull my hair into a ponytail by myself, I ultimately failed. I had to deal with loose long hair in all weather and environments. I loved my long hair, and it was beautiful, but it was a source of inconvenience and discomfort. I’m never going to fit into a box. I’m never going to fit under a label; I’m never going to be anything anybody wants me to be, I’m always evolving. I’m all about breaking boundaries. Breaking barriers, breaking labels, and allowing myself to be free.

And that’s what my short hair is to me.