Fearing the shears



‘Tis the season for graduation photoshoots and the season that one and a half years of avoiding beauty salons have finally boiled down to.

Perhaps one and a half years is a slight exaggeration, but growing a shoulder length Dora the Explorer bob into a waist length waterfall of dark locks does demand much time to pass by.

I grew up disliking my hair for the problems shampoo ad models ask through the fourth wall of my television screen: dry and frizzy most of the time, split ends, hair loss, and a bald spot somewhere that I desperately hope no one ever notices.

The soft spoken lady who dolled me up for the photoshoot praised me for my long hair as she curled it upon my request, but that same day, I was met with a different comment from another person.

Kailan ka ba magpapagupit? Balak mo bang talunin ‘yung extensions ni Ariana Grande?”

My initial reaction to an unsolicited opinion is to ask why, but I decided to roll with the situation to see what this person has to say about a body part that is not their own.

Short hair has always appealed to me in the same way a crop top does: gorgeous and has that edge I have always wanted, but never quite fits me so I did the next best thing. The only reason I waited this long to consider having a haircut was so I can have the satisfaction of hearing people’s reactions.

Lo and behold, I was not disappointed.

Ano, like, a feminist?” came the reply.

It was difficult to keep a straight face to this comment. Perhaps this person did not intend to sound as condescending as they seemed at the time. Perhaps they ran out of words to describe exactly what they meant and blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

Or, perhaps, this stems from a patriarchal culture that views women outside the Barbie doll packaging as alien, different, and a general threat that breaks through the tropes this culture perpetuates.

I will not pretend to serve wisdom on a silver platter with a preachy speech about disregarding physical beauty because “it’s what on the inside that counts”; the reality here is, to a certain extent, we do care about how we appear, how we look. I know I do, and I admit that I myself fall prey to superficial standards.

But that is not the issue. What is problematic is the knee-jerk tendency to box others’ appearances into stereotypes, often without realizing it. The cheesy narrative that beauty from the inside is what matters contradicts the standards we hold others and ourselves up to.

There is nothing wrong with being a feminist; I would be honored to be considered part of a social movement that empowers women from all walks of life.

Something I do need to check with myself is my own tendency to depend on parts of me that are meant to be let go of, a slight nod to Samson, except I rely on my hair for self-esteem.  

I will find the courage to face the shears one of these days; to step back inside a salon and let Delilah have her way at my locks so they can grow back anew, and so I, too, can grow in some way. For now, a head full of locks stays at 18 inches and counting. F

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