When my older son was in middle school, he wanted to grow out his hair in hopes it would stretch out his curly locks. Instead of growing out, it basically grew straight up and gave him about four extra inches of height. It was a new look for him — and he loved it. He has no intention of cutting it anytime soon. And yet, we both get asked all the time when is he going to cut his hair. And the question annoys the crap out of me.
Now my youngest son has curls too. Right now he likes to have it trimmed on the sides and in the back but those curly bangs go past his eyeballs. He likes it, which means I like it. He hasn't had his hair fully cut for about a year and enjoys trimming it himself (he does a great job), which means less work for me. The truth is, he doesn’t trust anyone else with a pair of scissors. The last time he had it cut, it came out a lot shorter than what he asked for and he just feels better with longer hair. And just like my older son, he gets questioned all the time about when he’d going to cut his hair.
It baffles me how people approach the subject of boys and their hair. People routinely ask my sons and other boys things like, “When are you going to cut your hair?” or “Are you going to cut your hair?” Or they just say something like, “Oh My Gosh! Your hair is just so… long.” As if the person with the haircut has no idea what length their hair is and they have saved the day by mentioning that it’s long.
Our kids are aware of how they look. They know what they are wearing. They realize they have piercings or different colored hair; there’s no need to point it out to them or make a comment about it.
It’s really clear, too, that this is about gender and what people think boys “should” look like. There are people out there who feel that boys should live by a certain standard when it comes to their hair. I think that is ridiculous. What’s even more maddening is they think others want to hear their opinion.
I know my son has long hair. I know his bangs fall in his eyes and he constantly has to move them out of the way. I know the front of his hair is way longer than the back of his hair. You know what? He knows it too and it’s intentional. There’s no need to comment and let us know he has long hair. There’s no reason for you to insert your thoughts on boys with long hair or girls with short hair or rainbow hair or anything else.
How we dress and our hairstyles are very personal. It’s how a lot of us express ourselves. If you ask me, anything should go. There’s no reason to comment about someone’s style or ask them if they know how they look, implying they should change it. That’s what makes being an individual great — we are allowed to do what we want with our bodies. And if someone has a hairstyle you don’t love, the good news is, you don’t have to have it. We can do our own thing, so keep your mouth shut.
My son (and so many other kids) will cut their hair, grow it out, or whatever when and if they are good and ready. And when they do you will know because you will be able to see it. In the meantime, keep comments about kids’ hair to yourself.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.