Lez Get Dressed For Work: Real Talk About Your Queer Hair At Work

Because you deserve to be the best dressed homo in the office. Read previous posts here.

Header by Rory Midhani

lez get dressed for work_640

A lot of you spend a lot of time thinking about your hair. This extremely scientific fact is supported by my very professional observations about how damn good your locks look. I think Autostraddle readers as a whole probably have the best looking hair around, statistically speaking. Of course, I’m not in charge of the universe, and what I think counts as great hair is not necessarily the same as, say, what your boss thinks.

If you’re just starting out in the professional world, or if you’re just starting out in the alternative lifestyle haircut world, it can be hard to figure out how to mediate the two. On the one hand, you have to be true to yourself and get whatever haircut makes you feel the best. On the other hand, you most likely need to work, and your coworkers might not understand that shaving the sides of your head is a queer signifier and instead think you’re maybe a little too rebellious for the office. It’s unfortunate, but true: the special element that gives your hair that super gay edge to it might be just the kind of attention grabbing look that is not encouraged in your line of work. As I’ve mentioned in this column, the hard part about dressing for work is that work isn’t about you (usually), and so you really shouldn’t be taking attention away from it. But hair is so central to happiness, to self-identification! What’s a homo to do?

Do you get the haircut and risk your job? Do you take the job and risk your individuality? Or is it actually not as big of a deal as you might think it is? Like, maybe your boss will just think you have a “pixie cut” and you’ll never correct her that what you actually have is a very specific “dyke cut” and it will just be whatever.

ye olde pixie versus lesbian question via luthien97

ye olde pixie versus lesbian question via luthien97

Maybe you saw this coming: there’s no right answer here. Every situation is different, and you have to feel it out. Maybe your alternative lifestyle haircut is frowned upon because you work with a bunch of homophobes who don’t deserve you anyway, or maybe you are just in the kind of office where everything on you needs to be proper and tidy (as an ALH tends to not be). Also likely is that it’s your own fear holding you back — fear of being visible, of looking different.

Currently, I’m lucky enough to have a day job where my weirdo haircut is fodder for articles, but I wasn’t always in such a situation. When I worked at an abortion clinic right out of college, my coworkers were constantly commenting on my hair, which at the time kind of looked like Baby Bowser. “You would look so pretty with long hair,” they’d say to me, which was actually not a compliment. The patients would stare at me, too. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I looked like a dyke, but because I looked unprofessional in comparison with the other people working there. “Unprofessional,” of course, is a relative term. I looked unprofessional in the context of a medical facility, but would have looked very professional in the context of a blog for girl-on-girl culture. You know?

To further this discussion, I polled some other working queers of various professions to find out what their feelings are. It turns out there are a lot of feelings out there. No one is surprised. Read on to learn their stories.

Ashley, cashier: The day I came in with an undercut framed by my long hair, all hell broke loose. Several managers told me I couldn’t have it displayed in public, that I’d have to part my hair on the far side of my head to cover up the “bald spot” (what if I had had surgery?). I agreed with a few managers that once the warehouse was closed I would be able to wear my hair however I’d like (much like our tattoo policy, as soon as we’re closed, you may roll up long sleeves, take off covering bandages, etc). I conceded to this because I have to pick my battles. But on two separate occasions while the store was closed I had managers tell me to cover my head. I told them to walk around and make sure all our other employees were covered up too before I was covering anything. One manager even told me my lifestyle “connotates an alternative lifestyle,” even though I am cool with saying I live one! I still don’t expose my undercut while we’re open, but as soon as those doors close and the last customer walks out, it’s game over.

Allison, intern at Utah Clean Energy: About a year and a half ago I gave the ol’ middle finger to society, cut off ten inches of my dark curly hair, shaved the sides of my head, and began my life as a true rebel without a cause. I didn’t do it because I’m MOC and queer but because I needed a big change. My fauxhawk adds to my identity and I have enjoyed keeping my hair short and “alternative” ever since. I never saw it as a problem until I started interviewing for grown up jobs and internships. No matter how feminine or androgynous I dressed for my interviews my haircut stole the show and made it into Allison’s Genderfuck Variety Hour. A feeling of uncertainty is always present after the person interviewing finds out I’m the Allison they will be speaking with, almost as if I can see them thinking, “We were just expecting someone… different.” Ever been misgendered several times by the person interviewing you during the interview? I know this feeling well. There are very few vague laws protecting LGBTQ+ folk from workplace discrimination in Utah and the ones that exist in Salt Lake don’t stop institutionalized discrimination from happening. My hair makes it known that I am not a part of normalized society. I’ll never know if it was the true cause of me not getting hired but I know it has sometimes made a negative impression.

Abby, works in the legal field: I’d had long to very long hair for basically my whole life when I finally decided to cut it all off. I was nervous that I couldn’t really pull off short hair, but also I worked at a law firm and was nervous that if I got an ALH, I might get fired. Not because my bosses were homophobic, but because it was an environment that expected a certain level of professionalism in behavior and appearance. And despite being on the more casual side for law firms, you were still expected to dress on the conservative side. Also, people had been fired for a lot less. When I went to get my haircut, I hedged it with, “I want to go really short. I want something kinda gay, but I also work in a law office, so I need to be able to look professional too.” And the woman cutting my hair totally got it. Despite being a little nervous, I got only compliments on my hair when I went into the office the next day.

Rae, archivist: When I graduated from college , I was determined to get a job at the main research library of the NYPL. I was 22 and still had College Hair, specifically a College Mohawk. When the human resources department contacted me for an interview, I didn’t go out and get a new hairstyle (instead I went out and got a new button-down), but I instinctively combed my hair differently to make it look more like Job Hair. I still remember what it felt like to tuck the tail of my mohawk into my new shirt. So much meaning is invested in personal style, so I don’t necessarily advocate getting a hairstyle you don’t feel any connection to, or one that makes you feel like you’re doing an impression of somebody else. When I was just out of college, I basically started doing an impression of a version of myself that didn’t exist yet. In terms of what I think is appropriate First Job Hair, I’d say washing it is the most important thing. And starting to get more regular haircuts. And never underestimate the value of a comb or pomade. The NYPL hired me, so my mohawk didn’t sabotage me. And I was fortunate enough to be hired for a union position, so I probably could’ve kept my College Hair. But I wanted to start transitioning into the next version of myself as soon as possible.

Okay, now it’s your turn!

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Gabrielle Korn

Gabrielle Korn is a writer living in Los Angeles with her wife and dog.

Gabrielle has written 95 articles for us.


  1. Uuurgh. I’m sure you know exactly how reassuring this article is. I work in a relatively conservative industry (hotels), and have this long hair that’s only this long because it’s a morass of indecision. I’m MOC but don’t know how what a professional dyke haircut looks like. Halp.

  2. ^ It’s probably just because I live in a particularly liberal city, but I’ve never seen anyone (even in the most conservative of industries) have a problem with the “Wellesley chop” (as we used to call it). Shaved parts might be a little harder to pull off in some industries, but so many female celebs have different varieties of short haircuts these days that I’m sure any good barber/stylist will have ideas for you if you go in and tell them you want a “very short, edgy, but professional haircut”. Even if you have to make some compromises for professionalism, maybe it’d be better than a “morass of indecision” (great phrase, btw)? Only you can answer that. But I say go for it :D

  3. My coworker recently asked me if I was really into the music scene and kept insisting that I look like I could be in a punk band. The only explanation is the hair. It was well intentioned, but I really just wanted to say its because I’m a raging queer and want everyone to know. Would’ve loved to see that reaction!

    • I had to come up with a better explanation for my chop than “because I wanted to be read as queer so I could get laid more my senior year of college.”

  4. Hahaha, this article is funny because I’m mulling over some future hair decisions. Good read!

  5. I’ve worked front of house in a hotel for around 5 years, and I was scared about what would happen if I got an ALH. I’m out at work, but it was more the reaction of customers, or from senior management about my professionalism. I left my job for a while to concentrate on university, and I got my hair chopped then – I got nothing but compliments from senior management etc, and they hired me [and my ALH] back on a part-time basis later. I’m currently rocking something similar to Tegan/Sara, and the old ladies are loving it!

    On a related note, I was scared of my curls. I spent a long time straightening my hair before discovering that shaved sides with a longer top swept to the side really works for me. It’s totally achievable, peeps. I do not miss the straighteners…

    So, yeah. Sometimes it works out!

    • I have curly hair too! I love my curls, but they were just getting to be too much for me, so in March I just chopped it all off. It’s amazing how well short hair works for me…it’s so much more manageable, and I feel like my curls make me more queer! :D

  6. I work in a warehouse, who already rock casual friday every day of the year, and I had to really feel out how short my hair could be, but I eventually got to this wonderful place; they don’t mind if I look like a boy as long as I look like all the other boys, so I had to sacrifice asymmetry and “unnatural” colors, but that I could buzz my head if I wanted

  7. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately! I used to have a queer cut in college, but grew it out – mostly because I couldn’t afford to keep it cut and I didn’t trust anyone with scissors. But now I’m working in a domestic violence shelter in Detroit, for an agency that is very inclusive and queer friendly. So I’m not so worried about my boss or my coworkers, because they’re all badasses, but I worry about how it might affect my clients. I already struggle to gain my client’s trust because I look like I’m 16, and I’m not sure how my client’s would respond to having an advocate who looks 16, has two facial piercings, AND has a queer cut.

    • I work (as an intern) for a legal aid office representing domestic violence victims in custody, divorce, and orders of protection cases and I have two obvious facial piercings and faux hawk with a magenta streak through the front, and I wear a mix of gendered clothing. The judges pretty much always do a spit take when I stand up and say that I’m representing someone, but I haven’t had a negative reaction from a client yet. Or a coworker for that matter, although I’m pretty sure half of them spend every conversation we have telling me in some way just how okay with gay people they are, which is awkward and funny. I’ve been told I look “groovy” and “stylin'”.
      I try to balance things out by dressing just a touch more professionally than everyone else so I look older and to just make sure everyone gets that I take this seriously. I think there have even been a few clients who preferred me to my supervising lawyers because of it. Lawyers, even fuzzy legal aid lawyers, can seem really intimidating so someone who seems less lawyerly is more relatable for some people. That’s just my experience, though.

    • I worked in a domestic violence shelter as well, in a similar situation – the organization’s culture was totally queer friendly, but I worried sometimes about client relationships. Turns out when I cut my hair, a couple of clients were put off by the change, but very few. For the most part I think my relationships with clients improved, because really it’s all about authenticity. People can tell when you aren’t being yourself and that adds a much bigger barrier than an alternative look. New clients who hadn’t seen me before had no bad reaction to it at all.

  8. Awesome post Gabrielle! I totally suffer from ALH envy, but being that I don’t work in an office of any kind, mine is more self imposed; as a queer identified woman with a trans* history, I worry that cutting my curly locks would mean sacrificing my passability, (and yes, I’m aware of how un- p.c. that sounds, but beyond issues of self-esteem, it’s also a safety issue, not to mention a host of other things that could make up the contents of a book that’d rival the compact OED in size! I swear, I’m working on it in therapy..)
    Anyhow, I’d love to see more posts like this one.. And um… on a completely self-serving note.. As much as I love short, asymmetrical hair, I’m just not sure I could carry it off.. Any ideas for shoulder length, insanely curly hair to look just a little more queer? Anyone?

    • I have curly hair and wanted a queer-er cut that I could wear at my place of work (teaching 18-year-olds who aren’t necessarily familiar with or cool with queer people) and Katrina gave me a sort of undercut at the base of my neck that you could only see if I wore my hair up. It’s hard to explain, but worked pretty well! sort of like this: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lwd9z6FRbX1r2k023o1_500.jpg

    • Color it! Bleach a streak of curl and dye it blue or purple or both and you’re well on your way grrrrl!

    • This is a big concern for us trans peeps I didn’t see discussed in the article. As a bi girl, queer-coded hair is of interest to me but as a trans woman there can be both dysphoria and passibility concern tied to the queering of hair. From a workplace perspective, many of us experience microaggressions relating to invalidation of our gender identities and it’s a constant debate between increasing visibility–potentially attracting more scrutiny and microaggressions–and queering our appearances.

  9. In general, my most edgy/queer hair style is usually candy-colored hair. That seems to be the queer femme ALHC of choice among many of the girls I know. I have a variety of wigs and clip on hair styles that I keep available. I also do a natural to candy ombré style that I wear. I wear my hair in a pony tail and add in a clip on pony in a more natural color. My bangs and the hair in front are natural and when I let it down, it’s back to long candy color again.

    Also, I hope some one writes a great article on candy colored/rainbow colored hair soon. Bright/pastel colored hair is to Feminine identified queers what a faux hawk/buzz cutt is to masculine identified queers.

    • I am so all up on this! Straight girls read me as straight less, and queer girls read me as FEMME when my hair is coloured!
      Also, the ombre thing is magic, no? I work representing my university, and do mock trial and Model UN which require “Western Business Pro” stylings, but I have only recieved compliments since taking my usually totally teal hair to a chocolate to ice ombre. In fact, one of my professors who told me I had to wear a natural hair colour or a wig for my conference saw that I took my hair to an ombre and actually apologized and asked me to please not dye it any more natural just for the class, and recognized my blue hair as my trademark.
      Also, the president of my uni told me to make sure to keep up the upkeep because he said as long as I keep it kept up, the blue sets me apart from all the other workers/meetings, and allows my work to come under higher scrutiny, which hella great since I was apparently doing awesome work. He said the energy would help our new president recognize me, and that he had been telling everyone.
      Coloured hair is so so a part of my identity, I feel that my personality changes depending on my colouration even! All the feelings and thoughts on this topic!

  10. Oddly enough, here in the conservative South, I’ve gotten only compliments on my new extremely short haircut. Women will come up to me in the ladies room or the elevator and tell me how they wish they had the courage to chop all their hair off. I think anyone who wants to try it should just go for it! You’ll be surprised at how good it looks on you and the positive feedback you’ll get.

    • Me too – I live in a pretty liberal northern town but there aren’t may women my age with similar short or fauxhawked haircuts. I’ve also gotten a bunch of comments – usually nice, almost all from straight women about mine. I think partly it’s because the haircut doesn’t code as dyke/gay to them (when I first interviewed for a job before I moved, I was psyched to see what I thought were powerdykes in my office. turns out they were straight women w/ soccer mom short hair). Sometimes I think about growing it out so I don’t have to deal with questions, but I like the little nod to visibility when my clothes are pro-femm-sional (new word I made up).

      • Also there was one time that a coworker I totes read as full on lesbian before hearing about her husband chopped off her shoulder-length hair into a fauxhawk, told me I was her inspiration, and then moved to San Francisco.

  11. Working with dog groomers means that every time I talk about getting more of an ALH, my manager offers to do it for me. Unfortunately, the corporation I work for has rules about “conservatively styled hair” and “natural hair colors”, so she offers to give me a mohawk before telling me that she would have to write me up if I got one.

  12. I’ve thought a lot about my haircut. About halfway through college, I got a pixie cut and eventually got a fauxhawk. I kept my hair short until the beginning of this year, up until my interviews for dental school. I guess you could say I’m feeling pressure from the school environment to grow out my hair and “fit in” more, so I kept myself from chopping off my hair again. Now it’s at an awkward length. Every day I want to cut it all off again because it makes me feel more free, but idk. I think I’ve resigned myself to having long hair.

  13. I have never heard the term ALH before and I only recently because aware if the idea of a “queer haircut.” I have tiny mohawk with a tail because I like it. I didn’t even know I was making a statement.

    I echo some of the posters above that anyone on the fence should “go for it,” or maybe start easing themselves into the haircut of their dreams. I’ve had short hair most of my life, but only in the last couple of years have I had the guts to pull off a mohawk-situation. And for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure anyone who has the will can pull it off. From my experience no one at work has so much as lifted an eyebrow.

    And I work as an attorney for the state government in a very red state.

    I could see my haircut raising more of a stink if I still worked in the service industry, but back in the day I waited tables with spiky candy-colored hair and that never gave me any trouble, either.

  14. I’m very lucky to work at a creative agency where this would be totally okay. Also, considering that one of my coworkers just did a super cool ombre deal with bright red tips, I think this would be even more okay. I’m thinking about getting a superalternativelifestyle haircut a la this:

    Also when I gchatted my boss to make sure a ridiculous haircut would be okay, her response was something like “Awesome! Go for it.”

    I know this is definitely not the norm, and I also live in a really liberal/queer-friendly city so that might have something to do with it too.

  15. I work in childcare, and when I chopped off my ~butt length hair for a supershort pixie/ secret fauxhawk my boss didn’t say anything. but the kids LOVED it. They told me I looked like Tinkerbell! Admittedly, pixies are really mainstream now, but still. A couple of moms commented and told me it made me look “tomboyish.”

    • I think I remember seeing you around in the comments of another ALH thread! You said you wanted to cut your butt length hair off but you were worried the kids would miss it. If that was you, I’m glad you took the plunge and that you like it! I bet it looks super cute.

    • My students told me I looked like a rockstar when I cut my hair really short, and one 1st grader asked me if I was a boy. After 6 months of working with him.

  16. I always had really short hair, but just recently I have started to grow it out , because I play sports. It would always get in/stick to my face when I got sweaty. So now, it’s pretty dang long compared to what it used to be, and I really miss my pixie cut. What I don’t miss as much, even though it was pretty funny, was being called ‘Sir’ or ‘Young man’ where I worked. ( I have a big chest, so I don’t know how they thought I was a guy!)

  17. I’m a nurse aid at an adult family home. My bosses are Mormon and I, in fact, met them when I was Mormon. One of my bosses cuts hair and she cut off 10 inches of mine last summer. Every few weeks we go shorter and shorter. Love to hear that buzz at the back of my head. So even though I work in healthcare and work for traditionally gendered folks, if my hair looks unprofessional and just too fucking queer, it’s not my fault. But the fault of my employer.

  18. I work as a nanny and while I am lucky to be able to wear jeans, tshirts and tennis shoes to work everyday, a short hair cut would be pushing it and an all out ALH would just not fly at all. The kids would love it, the parents not so much.

  19. I work at a high school in the suburbs of Seattle and I have one side of my head shaved, usually with some sort of design in it. I make a point of making my queerness visible so my queer students can have an everyday reminder that they are not alone, and that I am here too. I love when kids shyly compliment me on my hair, trying to find out if I’m queer. I love watching their eyes light up when I say something obvious, like “my wife and I.” My bosses also love my hair, and have complimented me on it several times. Strangely, I get a lot of compliments from little old ladies, always saying they wished they had the courage to do the same.

    • I am a high school teacher as well (in FL) and I love this comment so much. I just spent 8 months growing out short hair but I think i’m going to get an ALH this weekend. Hopefully it’ll go over OK with the administration.

      I think it’s important to be visible for the queer youth at school as well. Awesome that you incorporate designs! so fun :)

  20. I live in a medium-sized midwestern city. One of my friends with ridiculous queer hair is a librarian and has absolutely no problems; another friend with a mohawk is a nurse and she wears a wig. Most of the others I know with awesome haircuts work at laid-back places–coffeeshop, the Gap, music promotions. I know a couple of teachers with short hair who say it’s not a problem, but they do have to kind of deflect certain questions.

    I’ve had dreads for all but two of my grown-up queer years and never had a comment on it, except a couple of weeks ago when an older Black gentleman told me I’d have to cut them off when I got a “real job”, not knowing that I’ve already had plenty of those, and I have no desire to work in a super-corporate environment (if I can help it). I shaved the sides off two years ago and since my dreads go halfway down my back I can kind of cover it up if I want to. In fact, some of my friends don’t even realize that the sides are shaved because I rarely put my hair up.

    But the longer my hair gets, the more I start to have Big Gay Hair Feelings and start wanting to cut off like 10 inches. But I had super short hair for awhile and I think it looked pretty dumb. I don’t think my face is the right shape, I dunno. I lean MOC and the longer my hair gets, the more I check my clothing choices in the hopes that they make me read queer. I don’t know what to do. Bah.

    • Big Gay Hair Feelings, lol. Your current style reminds me of Brittney Griner who rocks long dreads with an MOC wardrobe. I hear ya on wanting to have a short style that matches your face: I felt like a walking pair of eyebrows when I got a buzz cut in high school. You could try this trick to see how an intermediate (not supershort) length looks on you: wear a cloth band and tuck the ends of your dreads up underneath in the back. It might help you see if that length fits your face, without actually cutting your hair.

    • Try talking with a stylist about what you want exactly. Samples/examples help, but if your stylist is dope, and you’re great at explaining what you’re looking for, it could turn out to be exactly what you want. Its a leap of faith and takes trust, but you may be surprised.
      I was nervous and worried about my recent cut, but when I woke up the next day and really looked at it after the emotion of cutting over a foot of hair off my head was over, I loved it. I thought my head was huge and my face was too funny for a short cut too, but the way she cut my hair, my head looks almost normal (ha) and my face looks lean and longer than it did when I had long hair. Best gamble EVER! Good luck with whatever you end up doing

  21. I work as an admin assistant in the orthopedic surgery ward of a hospital and I have dreads!! I know that its not a short shaved funky colored hair cut but its definitely pretty ALH. I have worked my way into a higher position from 5 years ago when I first started with the Health Region when I just had regular old long curly hair. One day I went to my boss and asked if I could get dreads and she seemed confused as to why I was even asking her for permission. Since then I have been able to prove my work ethic isn’t defined by my hair style and have moved up the ladder based on my work qualities and nothing else.

    When people ask me what I would do with my hair if I ever had to start from the beginning with people who didn’t know me, I always say I would never want to work for a company that wouldn’t hire me based on my hair. I know its easy to say that when I have a safe and secure job, I just don’t think I could spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with people that judge appearances like that.

    • I used to try to sell myself. But I discovered I don’t have the stamina for prostituting myself to that degree. I’m with you. At the end of the day, it’s about being able to look your own eyes in the mirror.

      I recall the former president of my college GLBT group, a deliciously exhuberant, tall, soft butch lesbian woman who had a spiky blonde hair and a winning nonchalance wrapped up in her dykey punk clothes. I ran into her 2 years post-graduation and literally needed 2 minutes to recognize her. Working as a kindergarten teacher, she had completely mommied out. Long hair, jumper dress, not a single Queer signal on her. If I felt she did this in a spirit of joy, an embrace of a new life way, I would have been joyful for her. But the slightly despairing look in her eyes said it all. Scares me to this day, that memory.

  22. Give me courage and advice: current hair is well past my collarbone; gonna go in asking for a Casey Legler cut and hope for the best. I starting cutting my own hair years ago because even when I spent big $$$, I never got the cut I wanted from professionals, even those recommended by friends (even when I bring pictures. I’m not picky, maybe just unlucky). But, I don’t know how to cut my hair in short styles, so I have to find a new hair place (Phoenix AZ). Guys, How do I choose a shop / stylist for a major hairstyle change to MOC dyke cut? March into a queer-friendly place, point to the stylist with hair / clothes most similar to mine, and say ‘YOU! TAKE MY MONEY AND CUT MY HAIR!’ Someone give me Shane McCutcheon’s number.

    • Also, PRODUCTS. To get the 50s/60s Mad Men look, you need gel, pomade, and some other stuff, right? What products do you guys like?

      • Davines. Oh my god DAVINES. I’ve had everything from a Vanilla Ice flat top to long hair with big thick Zooey Deschanel bangs, and Davines “for Wizards” product line is the best ever. Usually they have a product (like a pomade or wax) in both a matte and a glossy form, so you can add a little extra shine or not depending on your mood.

        My partner has a quiff that she styles exclusively with No 13 (http://www.amazon.com/beauty/dp/B004I7JLII) and all you need is half of a dime’s worth and your style will stay totally slick and in place without being greasy. I use no 5, the matte pliable stucco, which is a creamier pomade that comes in a tube. Expensive products, but I’ve been using the same tube on my long hair for over 18 months.

        Plus, it’s for WIZARDS.

        • Thanks so much, this is awesome! I think if I have products all worked out, I can go for THE BIG CHOP with confidence. Bless you, flamboyant cuttlefish. :)

    • “March into a queer-friendly place, point to the stylist with hair / clothes most similar to mine, and say ‘YOU! TAKE MY MONEY AND CUT MY HAIR!”
      This is sort of what I did. I went to a salon for awhile, and I really liked it, but never quite got the haircut I wanted. Then I noticed a new stylist totally read as a femme, so I looked at her professional facebook page where she posted pictures, and saw that she cuts hair for pretty much every drag king in the city. That’s my new hairstylist. I’m dreading moving next year, but I’m hoping that if I already have my haircut it’ll be easier to get someone to cut it correctly.

  23. Ahhhh this is so timely for me! Having a bit of a hair crisis at the moment.
    I have long, mostly straight, brown hair and I just don’t feel like it makes my outside look like my inside! My one previous foray into adventurous hair was a couple of years ago when I had a blunt block flapper bob. Looking back at the pics it didn’t suit me that well, which is part of the hesitation in chopping it again. I don’t think I have a nice enough face for short hair.
    However, i feel like at the moment my hair just dampens down my most adventurous/queer/edgy outfits… It’s a ‘plain Jane’ sledgehammer in my efforts to look quirky.
    I’ve tried googling alternative long hair, but can’t find anything that feels like ‘me’ either!

    • The secret, I am 99% sure, is to go shorter! I have a big head and a really round face (seriously, when a friend and I were drawing each other’s portraits a while back she exclaimed, “Parts of your face are just so . . . round!”), and I think that blunt, chin-length bobs are actually one of the toughest looks to pull off. But once the cut starts going above the ears, I really do think that almost everyone looks awesome with short hair. It makes your features look more defined. (Granted, I don’t know what you mean by “not having a nice enough face,” I am sure you have a great face.) Also, some form of bangs can do a lot to make a cut work, whether short and wispy or longer, asymmetrical, and side-swept.

  24. I have an alternative to shaving the sides of your head. I saw it first when my friend was partway through having her hair done for a skating competition and have seen it done several times since.
    Imstead of shaving the side of your head you could put two tiny french braids on the spot you want to look shaved. I haven’t mastered it myself yet but it will serve me well when I do. That way I can teach kindergarteners with normal hair and make it look more gay after work

  25. okay, here’s my dilemma: i LOVE having long hair (i’m pretty darn femme and i like styling it, putting it up, letting it down, etc etc) but i HATE that i’m not read as queer in public as often as i’d like. currently my hair’s down to my shoulder blades/bra and i’d still like to at least try letting it grow a little longer. how do i give myself a little of that Alternative Lifestyle Magic without sacrificing length? i was thinking about dyeing it red (i’m a natural blonde) but i doubt that’d actually accomplish anything.
    please, AS community, help me in my hour of invisibility/need! you’re my only hope!

    • I usually read a woman with long hair that’s styled in a super retro fashion as a likely femme. Bonus points if it’s obviously dyed Bettie Page black or that almost, but not quite, natural looking shade of red that’s just a touch purple-ish.

    • I don’t have advice for you just solidarity. I cut my hair recently because I was sick of being invisible. It worked, and I get read as lesbian by other lesbians now (and it is nice being flirted with by the people I’d actually liked to be flirted with by now)… BUT I got really pissed off at a lot of people for it. Lesbians/queers/genderqueer folk I knew who are freakin’ awesome most of the time all assumed that my new short hair was a sign of me being more of myself, when in reality it felt like giving up something of myself for visibility. I have grown to really love my short hair too, but I’m still a little sore about the fact that I had to make that choice to be seen as part of my own community.

  26. I work in an office and I have similar asymmetrical hair to Gabrielle. After I got it cut I was worried my hair might be a bit too alternative, so I went into the office all suited up and professionally dressed … only to find my boss had just cut her hair the same! ^_^

  27. I’m a student but I do a lot of theatre, and my hair often keeps me from getting roles, especially in period shows. I’ve considered growing it out, but it just isn’t me. I don’t know if it would be worth it.

    • I get offered male roles a lot – if it wouldn’t be something that would bother you, you could talk to casting directors about that? (Granted I say this as part of a theatre group with almost no male regulars whatsoever, they weren’t too fussed if we passed as male or not)

  28. I just did the big chop, to the dismay of a an irrelevant few, and concern for how my workplace would react maybe accounted for .01% of my feelings. I was personally really scared because I have a weird head shape and have never had short hair and am super self conscious. Luckily, I work in at the intersection of a few fields (technology/media/philanthropy) and get away with a lot appearance-wise, as long as I am on top of tihngs and deliver. One of my main co-workers, an older ‘rich’ Jewish lady, actually said “I love it! Its so you (read: gay). You should have done it a long time ago!”
    I love my cut. Its one of the best things I’ve ever done, truly. My head isn’t all that big it turns out (was mostly hair and birds nesting in it) and I’m 4 degrees cooler and 7lbs lighter.

  29. UGH. i have so many feelings about hair and work hair.

    i teach violin both independently and through a couple different music schools, and i am always worried about losing students by looking “too gay” and scaring off the parents. however, i’m also pretty unwilling to compromise on my hair: i am pretty far into the moc end of things and i identify as genderqueer. basically, i’m unwilling to have a more “feminine” cut because it straight up makes me feel terrible and wrong.

    the hair thing is one of my biggest struggles with this – the haircut i have would be considered pretty conservative on someone who is being read as male, but my name as listed to my employers, my body shape (even with a binder) pretty, and my high pitched spongebob squarepants range voice pretty much prevent that from happening, so as far as work goes, i’m in a weird place where i have to try to mold it into a more feminine shape for work but also leave it cut so that i can re-style it afterwards to actually look like myself in my personal life. it’s so weird – it’s like i’m playing dress up as a completely different person in order to stay employed and i hate it.

    oops, i think this turned into a hair/gender rant. like i said: so many feelings about this!

  30. I’ve rocked a fauxhawk at a legal office and not had any issues, from clients, judges, or other attorneys. It’s still short, but I’ve been styling it a bit differently, actually more a traditionally professional look, cause I got bored of the fauxhawk, and I still haven’t had any issues. Even the super old guys at the place I just started at haven’t blinked or been phased by it at all.

  31. I have been considering how I’m gonna cut my hair into a pretty AL/pixie cut once it grows long enough to donate it, something I have always wanted to do.

    I still need to grow it a couple of inches to donate, but one of the things that I have been wondering is whether an ALS cut would be suitable for going to grad school/researching/working.

    Thanks for this post, Gabrielle! Definitely food for thought.

    • Academia — as long as you’ve already joined a lab, it’s by far the most liberal environment for self-expression ever. You could grow a third eye and as long as you get your work done on time, no one will care. In fact, professors seem to welcome and respect students who have a sense of identity outside of a work peon.

  32. My hair styles generally reflected my religious commitments. “Beware of all enterprises which require new clothes.” – Thoreau

    I’m both poor and socialist proud, so the idea that my employer should have a say in my body, let alone for the peanuts I get grates on me. I kept my hair uncut for years, wrapped in a bun, which is our tonsure. My conservative small town was awed by this. But oddly, it also queered my presentation. Anything “different”, don’tchaknow.

    When I went back to lay life, slicing it off at the chin was a big cathartic thrill. I put it in pig tails and braids, but somehow no ladies took the “marriage availability” hint.

    It wasn’t until about a month ago, when I bleached it blonde, that my very staid community freaked out to see it. “Are you going wild?” One grannie nervously asked me. I may yet have the guts to dye it blue, which was my tradition in ye olde college dayes. Would that be enough of a honey lure for the woman-loving lady tourist miraculously drifting through my hick town? We shall see.

  33. Ohmygosh I was just wondering about this/stopping in my tracks to really consider it yesterday. My current job is a-ok with my shaved sides and undercut in the back. However, i am becoming a sub teacher in the fall, and I don’t quite know how I’m going to pull off the hair without leaving it down every day, or what I’m going to do with my dapper clothes. I have found that I cannot do business casual or whatever ‘professional’ is, but this is what i must do to be taken seriously/not stared at all day, right? Damn. Maybe i’ll go the jbeals route and power suit it. Or open collar/vest it. But. Hnng. Gonna be hard to pull off.

  34. Yeah, maybe because this is because I’m a barista, but I have no problem with my totally gay hair. I’ve shaved my head three times, and my bosses never cared. Recently, I even decided I might want to dye my whole head purple- I asked if my boss would care, and he looked at me like I was nuts. He does care, however, if I fail to wear my suspenders to work. I’m just sayin, queermos, you should get a job in non-corporate coffee.

  35. I am super into my mohawk combover for the office

    and I week ago, my boss kinda accusatory-asked me when I pierced my eyebrow, which was before she hired me, over a year ago…

  36. I’m in a particularly difficult bind with hair, because I not only have all the queer hair feels, but I also have trichotillomania, which means I compulsively pull my hair out. I had long hair for most of my life, because a bun/ponytail was the only hairstyle that covered my bald spots.
    I’ve made major progress and no longer have any bald spots (one of my goals for not pulling was to be able to cut my hair short) but I still haven’t gone all the way down the rainbow shears road, because if I do start pulling again, and my hair is short, there will be no way in hell I can cover it up.
    I’d do an undercut, but bald spots are basically involuntary undercuts and giving myself something even close to it seems like a Bad Idea.
    This has nothing to do with work and everything to do with Queer Hair Feelings, oops.

  37. Im not sure if any other butches have thought about this but I have had a boyish short cut for years but now i am DIEING to go long again. I just have no idea how to do it without compromising my masculinity. Its the strangest thing but I essentially have the opposite problem of “cutting it all off” …. i want to grow it all back. And potentially rock some Snoop Lion-style-esque man braids. Im a social work student so for the next 2 years at least i still have the luxury of freedom when it comes to my style. Then i’ll have to take a look at my image again in the context of professionalism.

    • I have long-ass hair and style it MOC by just doing the 50’s style deep side part with pomade, and make a loose bun at the nape of my neck to simulate a short cut — sounds awful, but it’s the closest I could get to having short hair most the time and long hair once in a while when I want to dress femme. With the rest of my men’s clothes, I can at least convince myself that I’m pulling off a men’s short haircut with the bun, and that’s as much as I need, I guess.

  38. I have a blonde and pink fauxhawk and I have 1 more year at undergrad. I don’t know exactly what to do with my hair if I want have a job after. this is going to be a hard choice. or do I go to grad school and get to keep it for at least another year..being an adult is always fun

  39. I got my hair chopped during my summer holiday almost a year ago. Nothing too drastic – I went from generic long-ish hair (valiant yet unsuccessful attempt to appear a little more femme) to chin-length, messy, layered ‘surfer’ hair that I had to style with a straightener. No problem, since I had plenty of time on my hands.

    Then my university year started and, seeing as I’m perpetually late, I almost never have an extra 15 minutes in the morning to use a straightener, and so I decided to submit to The Curls. My hair in its untouched state does that thing that Kit Harington’s hair does, and at the current length, it pretty much sets the same way his does.

    No one (with any sort of authority) at my medical school has said anything yet, but that’s probably ‘cause I’m still preclinical and the dress code is not quite as strict. I can’t really be bothered with changing anything right now, though, because I get a bit of a kick out of the contrast between my Jon Snow-esque mop and somewhat dapper wardrobe…

  40. I think i’m super lucky because I work in technical theatre. Basically so long as I’m dressed that does for most people, and jeans are cool for an interview.

    If anything, it’s almost better to have no hair, because it won’t get caught up in safety harnesses.

    Needless to say I am super rocking the “pixie” (as polite people call it) or ALH cut.

  41. I really want to rock a short hairdo but between curly hair and a million flyaways I don’t know that I would be able to pull it off. I’m also really tall and not super femme but I’m definitely not trying to look butch either. I don’t know that my height and short hair wouldn’t make me look like a guy? That just isn’t what I’m going for. I’ll probably end up cutting my hair to a blunt bob. I totally envy people who can pull off more extreme looks.

  42. I work for a church, and was a little concerned when I started dying my hair every colour of the rainbow. Not really, coz I don’t care what people think, ever.
    But a little part of me wanted to be a little bit shocking. NO LUCK!
    All the little old ladies LOVE it.
    “Oh Rosalie darling. I love your hair. You look like a beautiful lorikeet!”
    (Australian native parrotish bird.)

  43. This segment is the best thing ever. I’d love to see one about professional work/ interview shoes. I have no idea how to deal with that.

  44. I’m going in for the Glamarama makeover haircut. It has taken me three years to get my hair to my shoulders. I’m Trans and going for the Q femme asymmetrical. Long on one side, edgy on the other. At work, I’ll try to stand long hair towards the Provost. If I ever become employed!

  45. Dressing up to work is one of the things we should make sure of. We all know that when we dressed properly, we feel much confident with ourselves. Hence, we can deliver a really good output at work.

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