Elle Canada ran an article in their June 2011 issue about cheating men. Normally, this is the sort of article that I would idly flip through and smile to myself, reassured in my relationship. It’s not that Mike is the perfect husband (’cause he ain’t). It’s that Mike is honest, almost to a fault. When he’s unhappy, I’m the first to know; the same goes for any other emotion or need.
Seriously. Asymmetrical knowledge is not his style.
So, while I was reading through the article — waiting for something to upload on my client’s FTP server — I noticed something strange. This was Real Journalism. Peadar de Burca spent five years interviewing men that cheated on their partners, trying to figure out motivations, personality type, and even what kind of woman the “other woman” happened to be.
I was intrigued.
I read on.
And then the showstopper.
In five years of interviews, I would always ask what the “other woman” was like: appearance, personality, profession. There was one constant. Longer hair. (Now you know why women compliment other women after a haircut: another rival out of the equation.)
Reeling, I placed the magazine on my desk and stared at the wall for a little while. Long hair and the elusive nature of femininity is a deep well of hurt for me. For a long, long time, I had a hard time feeling female. Gender dysphoria, although rarely discussed in polite company, is something that was a real issue for me growing up. There were instances where I felt like I had genuinely been assigned the wrong gender. I’ve identified far more often with the masculine in the past.
It wasn’t until I entered adulthood that I started to come to terms with womanhood. And, at least for me, hair has always been a huge part of that transformation.
When I read about the “other woman” and her long hair, I temporarily panicked. Mike had often commented that he missed my long, chestnut hair (in my own defense, the long hair was the result of my own laziness to get it cut… and that was six years ago). For our wedding, I relented and grew it out. The wedding pictures, although beautiful, are the Idealized Me (minus my weight gain). The Me that people expect me to be.
The Real Woman with Real Womanly Hair.
You see that picture down there? With the short hair? That’s the woman I see myself as. The punk rock look may not exude glamour but what it lacks in sophistication, it makes up in (strong) personality.
Rationally, I know that femininity is subjective; it means different things to different people. It’s fairly universal (at least in my experience) that many men prefer women with long hair — something about it screams, “I’m beautiful. I’m feminine. Come love me up, baby.”
Short hair is intimidating. It shouts, “I don’t need you. I’m strong and confident all by my lonesome. You’re welcome to come along for the ride, though.” Truth? It’s part defense mechanism. If I don’t let people believe that I need them, then I don’t have to be disappointed when they don’t show up.
Whether or not long hair is the definitive feminine form, it’s just one part of the whole. Hair changes. People evolve — and, in some cases, devolve. I defiantly stand behind my choice to chop my hair and be who I am.
After all, as Gaga says:
I am my hair.