Halle Berry’s hair is my spirit animal. Her pixie has flair when she appears to do nothing to it. It moves in sexy, stylish, avant-garde ways. It never obstructs her flawless face. It compliments her statuesque features and acts as the perfect accessory at all times. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Halle’s pixie haircut completes me.
When I got my driver’s license at age 15 or 16, the very first thing that I did was take off in my fantastic Seattle silver hand-me-down Honda Accord to get a haircut. This initial unyielding act of goody-goody rebellion, for an otherwise model teenager, was the start of something amazing. That simple layered bob was so short, in fact, that for the first time in my life, I noticed the beauty mark on the back of my neck. Now, that mark, is one of my favorite features. Needless to say, I was immediately obsessed and addicted.
Years later, I decided to study abroad in France. In an effort to “travel light,” I cut my chin length bob into a full-blown pixie, like Halle’s.
Praise the lord. It was like I was seeing myself for the first time. Okay, I know that a pixie cut might not be for you. So, it may be a little tough to empathize. But, that’s okay. You must simply acknowledge that when you feel comfortable in your style and in your skin, it’s an unbelievable feeling. I loved it.
To clarify, even then, the cut was a symbolic awakening and liberation. I was free(ish), literally and figuratively. For those of you that aren’t acquainted with African American hair, black girls spend an inordinate amount of time, money, and effort taming our hair into submission. Sometimes at great physical peril, considering that we use hot metal and abrasive chemicals (or woven in false hair) to look a bit more like our straight-haired cohorts. Our natural texture is awesome, undoubtedly. We do this mostly just to make our lives easier, of course. But, it’s undeniable that visions of long flowing hair have been synonymous with feminine beauty, at least in American culture. So, what if your hair doesn’t fall in wavy tendrils down your back? My natural hair stands up in buoyant pin curls that rise up to the sky and outward with defiant fluffiness.
Okay, so hair is also a metaphor. In my case, for freedom. With a pixie I spend less time worrying about what I look like in front of mirrors, yet I am my most easygoing carefree self. Short hair suits me. It doesn’t hide my face, and accentuates my features, eyes, complexion, smile, cheeks. I can’t hide behind it. It doesn’t encumber me or weigh me down. What’s more to say?!
Then it started. Every boy that I dated post pixie, almost without exception, would eventually say those horrid words. “You should grow your hair out. It would be so lovely to run my fingers through it. You would look so much prettier.” Every time I heard those words, it would feel like someone telling me not to be myself. I’d writhe a little at the thought.
Several times I caved, of course, and tried to grow it out – supposedly to please the men that I loved. I would always twitch through the horrid intermediate “growing out” phases.
As I grew it out, I always dealt with the annoying whispies and bangs that constantly got in my eyes just to prove to some guy that I valued his opinion and wanted to fit his standard of beauty. At times, this standard of beauty was stereotypical, traditional, and most of all, superficial. I mean no offense, of course, to those women whose personal styles involve a Pocahontas-like mane. If it looks stylish and suits your personality, rock on, ladies! Moreover my point is that there are many versions of beautiful. You are all beautiful naturally, as God made you. The confidence and joy that you feel in your own skin is the most beautiful and sexy thing that you can exude. It will translate to magnetism among those that you meet, more than anything.
For years I tolerated hooded hair dryers, rollers, and burns from curling irons. For what?! To be wanted? To feel desired? Even loved? The last time a guy said, “I love long hair,” my immediate response was, “well, you should grow yours out.” When will everyone realize that nothing is sexier than a woman or man who is confident, happy and has swag and knows it?
Ah! What about the guy who grabbed a fist full of my longer hair and pulled without asking? He promptly tried to yank it back forcefully because he thought I would be into it. Eek. How about the guy that said, “short hair makes you look too much like a boy,” even though I was wearing a curve-hugging low-cut red dress and heels at that very moment. And, how about the guy that thought it would be funny to get my hair wet, not realizing that I would have to spend two hours out of my already busy day washing, drying, and straightening it again. Or, the guy that teased me about having to tie my longer hair back with a silk scarf so that it wouldn’t be too unruly when I awoke in the morning? Yes, as I alluded, my post sleep hair would be an unequivocal mess that I would have to sort out before work the next day, if I didn’t tie it up. For many years, I allowed these men to make me feel like I was always going to be “just shy of perfect” unless this one thing was “just so.”
Eventually, I got disappointed. I decided that deserve a man who thinks that I’m lovely because I’m self-possessed, kind, bright, accomplished and thrilled to live in my own skin. I began to realize that I wasn’t making those demands of guys. That was the beginning of a revolution. I felt defiant. The day of my epiphany, I bought a broadcloth button up dress shirt and tie, paired it with a blazer, high heels and a form fitting pencil skirt. I never felt sexier. Or more powerful. It was my way of saying, I do what I darn well please, short hair and all. So, I will continue to rock my short pixie cut. And, I will explore a universe of ways to look and feel beautiful and feminine that do not involve long hair.
Thanks, Halle, for giving inspiration to this little beige girl with short pixie tresses. You aren’t your hair either, ladies. And, you don’t have to have lady Godiva locks, do you? If you want them, make sure it’s because it makes YOU happy. Feel beautiful knowing that you’ve discovered something that, whatever that thing may be, makes you feel good about yourself. Whatever you are – embrace it, own it, love it. You are perfect. Feel comfortable in your own skin and don’t let anyone make you feel less than beautiful for not fitting into their perceived standard of beautiful. Defy them by forcing them to see that you are beautiful as you are. You ARE gorgeous.