She’s so, errrr…he’s so…Hair and gender.

We’re sorting through some medical mumbo-jumbo over here that I’ll probably write more about once I know everything. It’s not acutely serious, but kidlet has an egg allergy, and we’re expecting some more test results back today or tomorrow. So until then, let’s talk about HAIR.

Not mine; kidlet’s.

Kidlet has a head of baby-fine, nearly white, blonde hair that curls up in the back and is just the prettiest hair you’ve ever seen. People comment on it all the time. “Look at that hair!” they say with smiles. It’s true, it’s adorable hair.

See the curls?
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Except that, lately, people seem to be uncomfortable with his hair. Because we haven’t really cut it. I trimmed his bangs once when he was around a year, and then just a few weeks ago trimmed up the back, but otherwise, we’re letting it grow.

Because we like the way he looks.

Other people, it seems, are bothered by his bangs. A random dude in the parking lot at the grocery store the other day thought it was perfectly reasonable to say to me, “You need to cut his bangs, so people know he’s a boy!” Um..well, no. And you didn’t have any problem gendering him, so…

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Now, I understand that they are in his face, but he pushes them out of the way just fine. Sometimes he even asks for his hair to be in a ponytail.

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And then he looks at himself in the mirror and says, “Pitty!” (Pretty.)

This weekend several people referred to him as “she” which I don’t even bother to correct, unless they talk to me, and then I just use “he” instead. I understand that longer hair is equated with girls in our culture, so I’m not surprised when it happens. I am surprised when other people are mortified that they have mis-gendered him. Yeesh people, you didn’t cut off his arm. Everything’s okay. They jump all over themselves to explain that they called him “she” because he has long hair. Implying, I feel to some extent, that we’re responsible for their discomfort by allowing him to have long hair.

I’m pretty sure no one would care at all if he was a girl and had hair in his eyes.

So, until we decide that his hair is unmanageable, or HE decides that he wants it short, we’re just gonna leave it alone. I mean, he’s cute as hell like this, no?

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18 Comments

Filed under O, parenting, toddler, Uncategorized

18 responses to “She’s so, errrr…he’s so…Hair and gender.

  1. Jen

    He is cute as hell, yes.

    When my older daughter was born, I refused to dress her in pink, which really bothered some people because it made it harder to figure out if I had a boy or a girl, even if the girl in question was wearing, say, blue flowers.

    It’s no one’s business but your own what you do with your child’s hair, but I can promise you that plenty of people will offer “helpful advice’ whether you want it or not.

  2. J9

    Funny – I was actually just wondering if his bangs were an issue. His hair is so gorgeous; I can totally see why you’re not cutting it. Dre let Primo have long hair for many years and it was a huge change when he did get a haircut (still really really really cute, but definitely changed his look to more “typical” little boy). I’m not sure why they decided to cut it when they did – might be worth asking her.
    I remember Sadie being mistaken for a boy all the time and Lilah is as well (if they aren’t in pink or whatever) I’m with you – didn’t bother me in the least but people really do freak out if they make that mistake. Such weird exchanges occur as they apologize and I explain that it’s fine and I really don’t care if my child looks like the opposite gender to someone who doesn’t know her. Relax, everyone!

    • I don’t think it’s uncommon for kids to be assigned opposite genders by strangers. And if people wanted to be sure they were going to get it right, why not ask first?

      I thought I remembered Dre saying it had something to do with school…I’m curious. I’ll ask.

  3. I had a friend who didn’t cut her son’s hair until he was 2. EVERYONE called him a girl. Neither parent nor child cared even a tiny bit but the people who said “she” were always mortified. I say don’t worry about it until his bangs become an issue.

  4. That’s Noah’s hair! Noah has that exact hair. (Eric started trimming it when Noah was nearly four, to make it tidier because of split ends.) Noah loves his hair and is very proud of it despite now being aware that it sometimes confuses people about his gender. He thinks it’s funny.

    He went through a phase where his bangs were an awkward length (around 3?) and he sometimes wanted a clip to hold them back. Then they weren’t awkward anymore. I think it’s really weird that people think bangs-in-their-eyes is a pressing reason to cut boys’ hair but not girls’ hair …

    • Kidlet just turned 2, and I’m hoping he only has a few more months of this in-between look. A few weeks ago he was happy to have a clip in, but in good toddler fashion, the clip is no longer tolerated.

      I asked a friend of mine who has a daughter around the same age as kidlet, who’s daughter also has awkward bangs, whether or not she got flak for not cutting her daughter’s hair. She said that she often hears people admonish her to “get that hair pulled back,” in a light way, but no one suggests that she cut it. So there you go. Cultural double standard. SURPRISE!

  5. Kim

    I have an almost opposite issue- I have baldies. I’m so jealous of Kidlet’s locks. He’s pulling off long layers around his face way better than I do.

  6. hehehe, he is really cute with his curly blond hair…

  7. Love the ponytail! Love the gender ambiguity! There’s plenty of gendering later on–let him have his pretty hair!

  8. I really could have written this! Several times, every day, people refer to Oz as “she” and unless the convo carries on and we have to use a “He” we don’t correct them. If we do, they feel so badly and I just smile and shrug and say “It doesn’t bother him!” or “He doesn’t know any difference” or with the elderly I might say something “Well, he sure is pretty enough to be a girl, isn’t he?”. And it’s always the hair. His hair is just “so long”. I don’t know what we’re going to do. I sort of want to wait and see want Oz wants to do.

  9. Pingback: Unravelling a toddler medical mystery – more fun that you can shake a stick at. | Life V 2.0

  10. Pingback: Not that gender neutral nonsense again. | Life V 2.0

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