Declaring Something New: How I Learned To Leave My Afro And Love My Queercut

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” column exists for individual queer ladies to tell their own personal stories and share compelling experiences. These personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

My friend Marina cut all my hair off on Tuesday. Surprisingly enough, it was all my idea.

The first inkling I had that I wanted to cut my hair was based in the extended process of my own coming out, of my own exploration of what that meant to me and who I wanted to be in this new world. I found that I wanted to try something more masculine. I found that I wanted to try something that made me feel like more a part of the lesbian community, of the queer community. I realized that the girls I wanted were maybe the girls I wanted to be, and that the short hairstyles I loved were things I had wanted when I was a little kid. I was sick of being talked to by dudes. I was tired of being fetishized because my hair grows out and not down.

Mostly, I was trying to form new sentences and I didn’t have the vocabulary because it was hidden in that big mass of hair. I wanted to declare something new. My afro was exhausted from speaking for me for so long. I needed to put it to rest, especially since toward the end it became clear that even the most obvious and explicit signifier of my biracial identity – my Puerto Rican father’s hair – was up for grabs and was going to be misread as Jewish, as “straight white hipster,” as somehow fake or illegitimate or an avenue for questioning my experiences or attacking my stake as a woman of color. Most importantly, it became clear that my afro was read as being stagnant whereas I read it as being complex and flexible: it was “femme,” it was for straight girls, it was only for activists and not for bad bitches. My hair was speaking for me and I felt like it just didn’t know proper syntax anymore.

I knew I wanted to keep it natural – I knew no style I ever asked for would involve irons or chemicals. (In fact, this style doesn’t even involve a blow dryer!) I also knew that if I kept it natural it would stand out, despite its common shape and common cut. I felt like keeping it natural kept it a signifier of my ethnicity. But I didn’t want that to be the single defining piece this time. I wanted to be even more visible. I wanted to feel like every dimension of my person really existed. And I wanted to challenge myself to finally embrace the stuff that takes guts to embrace: the masculine, the queering of my public self. It wasn’t that hard to imagine after the fro. Nothing is or ever will be. Because let me tell you, the fro took guts. And it took patience and it took being nice to weird strangers and offensive motherfuckers and all those people who pull their kids away from me on the street.

This time it took three false alarms to finally do it. But I took the dive.

Marina and I shifted around a lot uncomfortably on the couch beforehand and I don’t know if either of us really believed it was going to work out, but eventually we had to cut my hair before we each had a second cup of rum & Diet Coke. I had shown her reference pictures of Rihanna, three strangers from hair websites, and Carly because she’s my hero. I told her the different shit I wanted but I understood nothing she asked me about it after a certain point. “Just fucking cut my hair until you think it looks good,” I said, or at least I think so. I don’t really remember.

We drank, we smoked, and we watched a fan video for Lana Del Rey’s “This Is What Makes Us Girls” because that’s just kind of how we roll. We had to use my old hair bows as clips. We were so tremendously unprepared but that was kind of what made it fun, you know? We were winging it. It would be something nobody else could have possibly done because we were doing it with a pick from my suitcase and a travel-sized bottle of my favorite hair product.

There was hair everywhere and to be honest, a few times I wondered what I’d gotten myself into. I had to keep reminding myself: I was still me. I would still be me. Even if I didn’t recognize myself for a little while.

And now?

I regret nothing.

And I think I really like it.

And suddenly it’s just like the last time – I’m relearning everything. How to walk down the street without fidgeting my fingers, how to be proud of how I look and who I am and dress right for my shoulders and my face. How to shampoo and condition. How to get ready every morning and know I’ll feel good about who I am afterward. What to wear on my face, and in my hair. Yesterday I experimented with headbands and bandanas and lately I wear my glasses all of the time. Everytime I feel good until I don’t feel good about it anymore. A lot of times I take deep breaths and remind myself that it’s too late to go back and then when I challenge myself to commit to growing it back I realize I don’t want to, not right now. And then it’s okay.

I like a lot of things about the cut. I like my face and my bone structure and I like finally being able to wake up 20 minutes in advance of something. I like not using any styling tools on a daily basis to feel like my hair “looks good.” I like that my hair looks the same when I wake up, when I get out of the shower, and every other minute of the day. I kind of like not having to entertain questions about my hair and “how I get it to do that” this time around. I like feeling flexible about how I represent myself, and knowing I can choose between multitudes and between dapper, femme, tomboy, and whatever else I want. I like feeling limitless and like I can finally wear hoodies and hats, but never fedoras. I like feeling like I am finally out, like I am finally visible, like I finally exist authentically. I like that nobody pulls their kids away from me on the street. I like that people sit next to me on the bus.

I like that Marina cut my hair. That someone cut it who kind of got where I was coming from, I guess. It was a post-haircut haircut; I had gone to a salon for my typical fro touch-up right before A-Camp and had hated not looking different when it was over. I had been too embarrassed to tell my stylist to cut it off because my hair “is the epitome of what she wants her hair to do,” and she was heartbroken at the suggestion. I had been embarrassed to tell her I “wanted to look gayer” because it seemed deliberate and inauthentic, as if it allowed people to somehow question how real that all was in the first place. But that was important – I needed someone to get that I existed as this person with my multitudes and that I needed to put them all on display before I exploded. I needed to feel like something about me that was permanent and real – something that wasn’t clothing or shoes or a single feather earring or a pair of sunglasses – looked exactly like me. It felt shallow but it still felt important. It is important.

When I cut my hair into an afro for the first time I felt like I looked like what I was. I was trying to minimize false expectations, to set my own unique bar and let people know right off the bat in what seemed like the most honest way that I was biracial, that I was passionate and sometime super brave, that I was empowered. It was my declarative sentence about who I am. Or maybe just the exclamation mark. But the last time my stylist cut my hair I realized she didn’t know me and that was what was missing. How could she cut my hair into a queer style if she didn’t know that was one of the words in the statement?

Instead I had a queer woman cut my hair into a little queer thing right above my face and for a while it was scary to be so fucking straightforward but then it became exhilarating and now it’s starting to feel like it was right. I feel justified in thinking my hair could help me find the words, because it did. I finally feel like a complete sentence without opening my mouth. I look even more like myself.

Cutting your hair is always a growth process, right? You sort of challenge yourself to do this thing and then cope with and readjust to it later. You sort of master yourself that way. Now it’s a new day, a new light, a new haircut. I no longer feel invisible when I feel femme and I no longer feel like an outsider when I butch it up. I also, you know, kind of like butching it up? And now I feel like I finally can. I think I can wear more shoes and maybe even more men’s clothes but also floral headbands and soft scarves and that makes me smile, and sorry, I’m not sorry, I’m super excited because now I can just try the world out for another go and land somewhere else and have it be super amazing and adventurous and honest. The entire fucking time.

That isn’t to say, however, that there aren’t challenges – that there aren’t times where I’m suddenly extremely aware of looking queer in public space and times where that really freaks me out. There are times where I’m scared that now I look like everyone else, some huge lesbian cliché. There are times where I’m worried people are misreading my gender. There are times I’m worried people are misreading my races. There are times I am worried I make white people too comfortable. There are times where I get nervous about what I will say when my mom sees it for the first time, or, more accurately, what my mom will say to me, and whether or not this haircut will push us from “not talking about it” to “not talking at all.” I’m scared of the judgement from my family and sometimes when my friends don’t tell me they like it as soon as they see me I get self-conscious.

But then I sort of just breathe. I will still be me. I am still me. Even more than before.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. oh carmen. i love you. i’ve been waiting for this. thank you for writing it — that brain inside that head of yours is so good, and no matter what hairstyle you ever rock i will continue to look forward to the words you produce. also you look fucking sexy and i can’t wait to see it in person.

  2. That haircut looks wonderful on you!

    Also, I just cut off all my hair a few weeks ago after spending years and years with my hair being the most commented on part of my appearance–although probably not for the same reasons as yours–and you explained better than I could how it feels. I definitely don’t regret it either.

  3. i so relate to this “And suddenly it’s just like the last time – I’m relearning everything. How to walk down the street without fidgeting my fingers, how to be proud of how I look and who I am and dress right for my shoulders and my face. How to shampoo and condition. How to get ready every morning and know I’ll feel good about who I am afterward. What to wear on my face, and in my hair.”


  4. I’m happy for you carmen that you’ve found a head space to wiggle into that more aptly reflects who you feel you are.

    hair is an emotional thing for a lot of people. it’s one mode of expression that everyone and their mama has an opinion on, and the semi permanence-attachment to your head-cultural notions of what hair should be make everything so convoluted it’s confusing.

    but if you can untangle some thoughts and find what you might want at the center then maybe you’ll find a reflection of yourself you want to see (and be) every day. I hope so. I hope you love it because you look great.

  5. I really loved this piece. You are such a great writer, I love you no matter the hairstyle. I love the new style, I wish I had hair like it. What a total babe.

  6. I love it!

    I wish I had the nerve to cut my hair as short as I’d like to, but I’m so noncommittal that I’ll probably never do it.

  7. The new cut looks amazing!
    Thank you for writing this article, I’ve been wanting to cut my hair really short for the longest time, but I keep letting my friends talk me out of it. Something about not having the bone structure to pull it off or somesuch.
    I’ve found it difficult to express that I, as you said, want to look gayer, that my current femmy hairstyle just doesn’t fit with the image of myself I have in my head.
    I guess what I’m trying to say here is I can relate, and you’re awesome. I may have a little bit of hair envy.

    • Can I just say that I hate when people say that women don’t have the face or the bone structure or whatever for short hair? I’m no expert on hair, pretty much the opposite, but if the vast majority of dudes can rock short hair with no problem then it stands to reason, at least to me, that most women could too. you just need the right cut for you.

      In short, you do you. You want short hair? Do it. Don’t let anybody talk you out of it.

    • If you do, you should look into cancer charities who accept donations of real hair. I cut mine off on impulse while traveling, and I really regret not doing anything with it.

      • you can also donate it to organizations that clean up oil spills! that’s where my 20 inches of hair went three years ago, they use it to get oil off the poor covered baby animals.

        now its almost that long again, time to save more baby birds!

  8. You look amazing! I had my hair cut super short about a month ago and I love it. I felt so vulnerable and exposed at first, but it feels so much more ME. So I can relate, and I wish you and your new hair all the best!

  9. Such excellent piece, Carmen! I went from a bob to a haircut almost identical to yours this week, and had been feeling really ambivalent about it. I was tired of reading as completely femme and I was tired of mentioning my fiancée and having the follow-up question immediately be, “Oh, what does he do?” — but while I was desperate for others to see me differently, I wasn’t entirely prepared to have to see myself differently.

    But the way you really thoughtfully take ownership of this awesome look and completely rock it makes me feel a little bit more like I can rock it too. “Cutting your hair is always a growth process, right? You sort of challenge yourself to do this thing and then cope with and readjust to it later. You sort of master yourself that way.” So thanks for helping me readjust!

  10. Carmen, thanks for writing this. I really love what you wrote here: I no longer feel invisible when I feel femme and I no longer feel like an outsider when I butch it up. I also, you know, kind of like butching it up? And now I feel like I finally can. I think I can wear more shoes and maybe even more men’s clothes but also floral headbands and soft scarves and that makes me smile I felt like this at the A-Camp dance, when I recognized people I saw at the Andro/Butch workshop wearing dresses. It made me happy, that we don’t have to stick to binaries and just be ourselves in the moment.

    I’m definitely going to queercut my hair soon and seeing your hair respond so beautifully to this cut definitely inspires me. An undercut isn’t enough for me anymore and I want to feel the vibrations from a pair of clippers all over my head, not localized at my temple.

  11. You look super cute and I kinda have a crush on you, but I really hate the assertion that to be a lesbian or to be queer or whatever, you have to look a certain way. In this case, getting your hair cut short. I know you’re talking about your own experience and I respect that, but its a sentiment that is shared throughout the lesbian community, and it makes me sad. I like looking feminine and I feel like a lesbian in a dress and with long hair, because I am one. If I want to cut my hair short, that shouldn’t make me any more a lesbian. I hate being marginalized in a marginalized group.

    • This aspect made me a bit sad too (although Carmen does look super super cute), because, well, I love my long hair, I love that I have millions of options on how to make it look and that it never looks exactly the same from one day to the next or even one hour to the next.

      I am fully aware that long hair is associated to a traditional image of heterosexual feminity.
      But I know already that I’m different, I feel like I radiate my queerness through every pore (and every lock) and I’d hate to think the only way for people to feel it would be for me to cut it off.

      • Me three. I am all about YDY in the appearance department – and Carmen, you look utterly stunning with the new do…also utterly stunning with the old do – but it bums me out that certain looks are considered “queer” and certain looks are not. If someone IS queer, how can they not LOOK queer, you know? It can be tiring to have to continually come out verbally, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to change my own personal style just so I can look like whatever a queer is supposed to look like. I want people to meet me halfway on that. I’m not invisible; others need to learn how to see me. So…guess I have to keep opening my mouth. :>

        There’s a new NYC group called Femme Love, btw, that focuses on building friendly community for femmes, the femme-curious, and the femme-friendly. We’ve had a couple of events in the last month that have been really wonderful, including an all-sizes clothing exchange that ran the gamut of looks and styles. If you’re interested, here’s the FB:

        It’s a beautiful thing to love the way you look, and to feel like your outsides match your insides. I hope everyone has the opportunity to do that. xo

    • You must be new here? Because Autostraddle is the last place that judges your sexuality on what length your hair is.
      Maybe you’ve just been hanging out with the wrong type of lesbians.

      • My post wasn’t directed to Autostraddle alone. I know its not a judging place and that’s why I love this site. My comments were about the lesbian community in general. Of course, not everyone feels this way but just reading the replies to this post, its like, look how many women commented to this article, who feel like cutting their hair would make them more “gay”. Its disheartening.

        • I think it’s interesting that real life communities have that perception, that you have to have short hair to be read as gay, but in the media all the lesbians you see are long haired femmes.

          Personally I think perceptions are shifting, maybe less so in rural or small town areas, but it’s happening. Kudos for being one more long-haired queer person showing society that you don’t have to have short hair in order to be a gay woman.

      • or she’s been here for whatever length of time and simply has a different experience than you. shocker, i know.

    • If you guys haven’t been to A-camp, I hope you can make it some day! In that magical mountaintop community you will find queer women with every style/hair/clothing/gender expression you could ever possibly imagine.

      You can go to a home projects workshop and learn to fix leaky sinks and holes in walls and then you can go to an exotic dance/pole dance workshop, and at each of those activities you will find girls with super short hair and girls with long flowy hair and none of them are thought to be more or less queer because of it.

      Kind of my favorite thing about camp, actually.

    • Thank you for posting this. I was thinking the same thing as I read the article. The new’do is awesome.

      I define my hair, not the other way around. My queerness pours out of every hole in my body. If someone wants to judge me by how I look and not my actions or the words coming out of my mouth, then poopoo on them.

      • Also wanted to add that maybe the idea is more of a genderqueer presentation, e.g., presenting as more masculine (or feminine) of center, as opposed the phrase “looking gayer”. “Gay” has always been an absolute term in my understanding, like unique. Something is not more or less unique; it is unique or it is not. Some is queer or they are not. How they express it is irrelevant. Someone correct me, I always get confused over the terminology.

    • hi! okay. this is totally exactly what i was feeling before i cut my hair and i don’t wanna make you feel that way! right now i am experiencing being read by more people as queer, is what i was trying to talk about. i love your long hair guys!

  12. loved this article. it’s very relevant to where i’m at in life right now.

    p.s. how freakin’ gorgeous is Carmen! ^_^

  13. Your hair looks AWESOME. Also this article was AWESOME. I guess I’ve never really thought about having the person who cuts your hair identify with you and what you want and how that would be important.

    Also this article is very relevant to my interests. Me having long hair is my mom’s wish, not mine. Been thinking about getting it cut!

  14. Such great timing for this article. I’ve been thinking about cutting my hair into something different for the new me. Still figuring out the style though. Must be short and low maintenance. I wear my hair short anyways so I’m thinking about going shorter then usual. By the way love your haircut Carmen! :)

  15. Uh, this is kind of off topic, but is your friend wearing a Siouxsie and the Banshees T-shirt?

    Also, the haircut is cute, esp. with glasses.

  16. Awesome! It’s amazing how when you change something big about your appearance it seems like it might not be a big deal, but you really have to relearn how you think about yourself and feel good about yourself in a totally new and different way. But when you do it’s the best!
    Also I LOVE how your new hair looks with sunglasses. Way too badass.

  17. “I realized that the girls I wanted were maybe the girls I wanted to be”

    I will never be able to figure this out.

  18. I liked the ‘fro. But you sound more excited and happy with this, even with your concerns you listed. And two things stand out–Marina did a perfect cut for your face and bone structure, and pics #2 and #4 demonstrate what Fox Maverick said, you are freakin gorgeous. Rock on, Carmen.

  19. This is the most shallow possible response to this article, but: that haircut is hot.
    Shit, I want to cut my hair now!

  20. Going to keep this simple. I saw you at Camp, you were cute. I see you in these pictures, you are sexy, beautiful, hot. All those words that make the difference from ‘aww, I’d like to spoon with you’ to ‘ummmm, grab that drink and follow me…my cabin is empty.’ Yes, I realize that may be inappropriate and not at all what you were expressing in the article (which was lovely, by the way), but I stand by it. Grrrrrrrrrrr girl.

  21. I really appreciate that you mentioned wanting to look gayer and worrying that might seem inauthentic. I have these same internal dilemmas with my own personal style. I have found just mixing up my fashion choices from really fucking femme to tomboy femme helps me on the daily. But that does not solve the hair length issue or the authenticity issue.

  22. okay i refreshed the AS front page HOPING for a hair-related post, because i needed to tell someone that i just cut my hair BY MYSELF and it’s really short and I don’t think it looks that bad but ohhhh my god I can’t even cut hair WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST DO

    also ALSO that haircut looks good on you Carmen, REALLY good!

    • Does it make you happy? Do you feel a thrill of empowerment when you see your reflection, maybe tinged with a slight feeling of “oooh shit, I just did that”? If so, it’s a good haircut. Because the thing that really seems to make a good haircut is how it makes you feel.

  23. Stunning! :)

    It wasn’t until after I cut a good 12″ off my hair to a cut as short as yours that I realized how I actually hid behind my hair. It was a safety net I didn’t know I had. You definitely do need to rediscover how to navigate the world with a drastic cut like that.

    I love how you were able to express how much a “simple” haircut really can transform lives.

  24. “And I wanted to challenge myself to finally embrace the stuff that takes guts to embrace: the masculine, the queering of my public self.”


  25. Wow!
    You look so beautiful Carmen. It takes guts to get a new do especially so short because you are so visible- you hide nothing. Props to you. You being yourself is so inspiring. I like how you’ve written about it here… and makes me want to get shorn even shorter! :)

  26. Totally jealous of the fact that you cut it all off. I cut mine a few years ago; all my GLBT friends thought it was great, my family and straight friends were glad I grew it out. I recently got my hair cut and the whole time leading up to it, my straight friends kept informing me not to go back to the “short hair thing.” Which sucks, because it’s my hair, my head, and my personality to express. Not theirs. I ended up with a cut that was basically the same hair but with bangs.

    You eloquently summed up the emotions I had when I cut my hair short. I want to go back to a short hair style but I need to find the right cut that will look good so that I’ll have the confidence to ignore the heteronormative comments from my family.

  27. Im not sure how to say this without sounding insensitive. Maybe it’s because I’m just that sort of person who doesn’t notice race so easily, and that I can’t like, easily tell where someone is from based on skin or facial structures beyond the overly obvious that creep into stereotype and make me anxious about thinking it…but I feel you’re more…I can see your biracial-ness more with this haircut than before with your previous hairstyle, and it’s lovely and fantastic and I feel like it’s more ‘you’. Maybe when we strip down to less hair after having a lot of it beforehand, it helps reveal us in a whole new way.

    I hope I didn’t offend. You look wonderful, and Im glad that it’s something that makes you feel good and you enjoy.

  28. Carmen, you have articulated very eloquently a lot of of my feelings re. my recent change in hair style.

    I cut my already fairly short hair and messed up slightly, forcing me to style it in a totally new, more… confrontational way. It was entirely accidental and I felt so very visible for the first few weeks that I didn’t know what to do with any part of my body when I was walking down the street. Everything in me, my whole physical presence felt like it was in orbit around my new hair. It was all I saw when I looked in the mirror. It was all I imagined people I walked past could see of me – if they could see any of me at all – and that their reaction to it was to immediately think “gay”. And I’ve always liked that, for better or worse, my having short hair has made me legible as queer, but I hate that non-queers might read my physical aesthetic choices as a negative stereotype – and, more so, I hate that some part of the idea of that negative stereotype it is so ingrained in me somewhere that I end up worrying that that’s what people see. Nonetheless, I have grown to really like my accidental new hair style. I do feel more like me. I feel a little better than the usual me, a little braver – as much as you can really be brave about hair at all. I feel like when I’m on public transport that sometimes people could be looking at me and thinking “gay”, but I’m alright with that. It is true, afterall.

    What I am not looking forward to is my mother’s unintentionally traditional-gender-presentation-enforcing reaction when I see her in the next few days – after my last, slightly less drastic haircut she said, “why have you made yourself look like a prison warden?’

  29. I’ve been debating on chopping my shoulder length brown hair off for awhile and over the past few days…it’s been driving me crazy! I feel like now is the time to do it, and your words have empowered me to make it a reality! I want to feel like ME. This hair is the old me before I came out and after two years of being out it’s about damn time to let it go.

  30. Marina gave me my first dyke chop this time last year. My long hair wasn’t something I felt very connected to, but I’m glad she was there with me anyways. Everyone go to Marina for radical dyke chops is what I’m saying.

  31. Oh wow that looks great. And oh wow was this ever what I needed to read. I recently cut off ~20 inches of my big, red, think, wavy hair (it’s now about an inch, I guess). And I felt like all of that hair, especially the redness of it, had come to take over the rest of my body. And my identity, really. I guess it didn’t help that my family has always been of the opinion that it not only looks better (for women) to have long hair, but that it proves some kind of moral superiority.

    So I am glad to see that someone as confident as you seem to be, Carmen, has the same questions about what it means to want to “look gayer.” And about how to be authentic to myself while allowing that self to be easily seen/read by other people.

  32. Carmen, I love it! I’m so glad you’re discovering the new flexibility of your haircut, bc I feel exactly the same about having short hair. I can be anything and everything, with no restrictions.

    I used to have SO MUCH HAIR. It was curly and bushy and very very long and it TOOK OVER my body. I felt like all I was was this HAIR, even though other people seemed to love it… They called it mermaid or princess hair, but I often felt like I didn’t even exist, not as someone apart from my hair anyway. It took me a very long time to cut it, but when I did (into a cute 20s bob), I felt so incredibly free and like people were actually seeing ME and not just seeing my hair. I felt kind of naked too, which was scary, but exhilarating. And that wasn’t even when I got my first ALH. It was just getting rid of this THING that was overshadowing the complexity that was and is me. I don’ t know if that’s what you were feeling also, a little, but I just had to share that. For me, my hair is such an extension of who I am, and it always will be, but it no longer overwhelms or hides ALL of who I am.

  33. Loved this piece! Cutting your hair can be so liberating.

    “I like feeling flexible about how I represent myself, and knowing I can choose between multitudes and between dapper, femme, tomboy, and whatever else I want.”

    As a femme who sometimes identifies as boi I can only say: THIS. this. my short hair makes my gender representation flexible. It makes me feel queer and feminine at the same time. And if I want to be a boi, it feels less weird than with long hair.

    On a sidenote..
    “rum & Diet Coke”


  34. “I like feeling flexible about how I represent myself, and knowing I can choose between multitudes and between dapper, femme, tomboy, and whatever else I want.”

    This perfectly articulates why I love my haircut- it’s long on one side and short on the other.

  35. Carmen, you look wonderful, and thank you for sharing -like others have said, it’s good to hear the same worries and complex ways of relating to how we look reflected by others, and you express it really well.

  36. As somewhat white-passing POC with (formerly) big ~ethnic~ hair who also did a big chop, I feel you.
    Though I rarely had an afro, my hair was definitely my signifier. I was literally plagued with “why dont you straighten it” questions every other day, which of course just made me cling to it as a symbol of my heritage even more.
    But cutting it all off was the best thing I ever did to it. It didn’t have much to do with butch/femme/etc stuff for me but it was to look a little gayer.

    +I actually pass for white much less with short hair… maybe because you can actually see my face

  37. Carmen, I love this article. I think you’re so brave, and I’m so happy you feel like you’re aligning yourself with your identity. You do you, and you do it so well!

  38. I made the mistake of cutting my hair short for the first time in the middle of January, and spent the next week complaining about how cold my head was. That being said, I’ve had short hair for years now and it’s the greatest thing.

    I’m so happy for you, Carmen, and all the people who feel totally boss with their haircuts.

    To everyone who’s considering chopping off their hair: DO IT, GIRRRL :D

  39. “But then I sort of just breathe. I will still be me. I am still me. Even more than before.” YES. This, so much.

    When dysphoria gets to me and I’m second-guessing about transitioning, or worrying about how my family will react, I try to remind myself of this. I’ll still be me, but more so. I’ll be more fully myself, because my body will better reflect that inner picture of myself–just as cutting my hair short for the first time made me suddenly recognize myself in the mirror.

  40. When I first saw the title I had a heart attack because I couldn’t BELIEVE you’d got rid of your ‘fro. However, the new hair looks ridiculously amazing and expresses so much that I can’t even properly say in a comment. It’s awesome Carmen.

    This is relevant to me as I try to explain to my family why not feeling able to cut my hair how I like for the family wedding in a few weeks makes me so sad and other things. I just think like the worrying about being too ‘out there’, or too gay for them is a bit heartbreaking. If they can’t look past the hair and only harbour disappointments about what I choose to do with the stuff that grows on top of my head – not theirs – instead of being happy for their day, it sort of feels like a rejection. Of course, I am happy to be sensitive to what they are comfortable with and would never go with, say, a yellow mohawk, if that was necessary. But having to adopt a more ‘normal’ haircut to please them…my hair is a key part of my expression of who I am, I think it is very important, and I am usually proud of it – or more accurately, proud of myself and the extension of me which is it. A ‘normal’ haircut is not me. It’s stifling.

  41. ^LOL

    “I like that nobody pulls their kids away from me on the street. I like that people sit next to me on the bus.”

    Makes me sad to know people still feel that way about Afros. :(

  42. it looks fucking amazing! wish I could pull something like it off but straight thin blond hair and my round face are not the perfect base for it I guess.

    also I still feel embarrassed for drunkenly asking to touch your hair. I’m just like these random white people on the street who do that shit everybody with an afro told me about. so sorry. #blameitonthealtitudeandalcohol

  43. ‘I like not using any styling tools on a daily basis to feel like my hair “looks good.”‘

    Damn it, now I’m second-guessing growing mine out. I have a hard time feeling feminine with my short hair, but I don’t look forward to having to straighten it and fuss with it.

  44. i don’t know how i feel about this article. it sounded like capitulating to ignorant people who pull their children away from you or think your hair is political statement because of the way it grows out of your head and at the same time changing your hairstyle to better display your queerness and to have a change of pace. ultimately, it’s your hair and i’m glad you like it.

  45. Goddammit, Carmen, you’re possibly my favorite author on Autostraddle!

    I’d been growing my hair out (to my shoulders) while I was in the closet because I’d realized I was gay and that, for certain reasons, I’d have to keep it from my parents for a while. It was like a safety blanket, or, more accurately, a mask: it made me feel like I was passing as straight so I’d feel less insecure around my parents.

    Now that I’m out, I’m slowly wittling away at my hair: at the moment, I have a vampy bob, but I’m going to go full Ginnifer Goodwin on this shit. It’s also kind of liberating because, when I was dating men, there was this one guy who always told me my face was “too big”. Fuck him.

    • if you look like your avatar — your hair is amazing. i’m so glad that you’re cutting it! it’s scary but totally worth it, you know?

  46. Carmen why are you so hot? Seriously you are so beautiful and such an inspiration. Plus you have a really cute laugh. Your new haircut looks amazing!

  47. is it bad most of what i took from this was that i should finally look up Lana Del Rey?

    Coincidentally ‘carmen’ is now playing…

  48. Carmen, you have no idea how much I relate to this. Reading this article has inspired me to do what I’ve always been afraid of doing: cutting off my long long hair. I’ve wanted short hair for a really long time, but I never had the guts. Now, I’m determined to look the way I feel and not care about what other people will say. I’m super stoked, but when I start to get nervous about what my family will think or coming off as a giant lezzy cliche, I just read this article and my courage is restored. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Your hair looks amazing, by the way!

  49. Pingback: The Good, the Bad, and the Highly Personal: A Reading List About Haircuts : Longreads Blog

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