Bodily Autonomy Includes People’s Hair, So Your Feedback Isn’t Needed

My son has always struggled with his hair. Before he hit puberty, he’d try and muster his locks into the Justin Bieber Side Swipe. It would fail every time and end in tears. His coarse, curly hair has a mind of its own. Not to mention that the cowlicks adorning his hairline make it impossible to have what he calls “a regular hairstyle.”

In elementary school, he wore a baseball cap whenever he could. Then he went through a stage where he tied a handkerchief around his head like a headband to tame his hair. Anything to hide the locks which always seemed to be the focus of his existence.

Around age eleven he was panicked every day because his hair started falling out. After a week of him crying over the sink each night after seeing his strands in the sink, I called his pediatrician. Turns out it’s a very normal part of growing up.

It didn’t look like he had any less hair, but it was noticeable that his hair was changing. It became even coarser, darker, and started growing up instead of down. 

That was the year I tried to flatten it for him with a straightener every morning per his request.

It didn’t work. He’d go to school every day upset. I spent a lot of money on hair products and took him to a few different salons. I wanted my son to like his hair, but more importantly, I wanted him to like himself.

My son’s hair is unique. It is his. And now as a teenager, he’s finally like, Fuck yeah this is my hair and I’m fine with it.

I didn’t know if we’d ever get here during those tough times when he did everything he could to change a part of him I loved. But holy mother, I’m glad we’re here.

He’s heard it all: “You have pubic hair as hair.” “Your hair is so tall.” It never ceases to amaze me the comments people make to others about what they look like.

First of all, my son knows what his hair is like — it’s his. It’s incredibly annoying how people, mostly Boomers, think it’s okay to talk to him in a way which insinuates they are the only ones who have noticed his hair and think it’s okay to reach out and touch it.

The other day he was flexing a man bun (which I did for him, and looked awesome BTW), and snapped a picture to post on his social media.

Leave it to idiots sitting behind their phones to take you out of 2020 and think their negative feedback is wanted. 

While my son is confident enough to still wear the man bun, he took the posts down after reading things like, “Buns are for girls,” and “Oh, how pretty, are you going to get your nails done?” And, “Dude, cut your hair.”

If someone wants your opinion about something on their person, they will ask for it. Why there are humans out there who feel the need to shame someone because their look doesn’t fit into some stupid container that they think it should is something I’ll never understand. 

It’s never okay to size up someone’s body. It’s never okay to question someone about what they are wearing. And it’s not okay to comment on someone’s hair and question their style. We have no idea about the journeys people go through. We don’t know the struggle, or the courage it took them to show up, whether it’s a picture on social media, or just going to a gathering.

Individual style belongs to the individual. It’s not for anyone else to judge and say they shouldn’t wear nail polish because they are born with a penis, or shave their head because they were born with a vagina. 

It only creates hard feelings for the person who’s being talked about. 

We can teach our kids (and try to teach ourselves) that other people’s opinions of us shouldn’t matter. But the truth is, words can hurt. 

I’m glad my son likes himself enough to disregard those comments, but that doesn’t mean his feelings weren’t hurt. They were.

So, to those who feel the need to comment on someone’s appearance: keep your opinions about hair, clothing, and bodies to yourself. Your comments make you look ignorant, and out of touch. You should know better.

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