Intern Emily and the Case of the Hairstyle-Induced Identity Crisis

The last time I got a haircut was in the middle of August on top of a roof by professional hair cutter & stylist Laura Wooley Mammoth and I was half naked. Look, here is a picture from that same day:

my hair stylist and I are closepersonalfriends

I usually get my hair cut every ~3 months, as my hair grows fast and it is also short which means that I have to cut it in order to avoid the shaggy dog look. But this year I moved out of my parents’ house. September, October, November, and parts of December happened, and by that I mean my life disintegrated to the point where I was a frumpy mess of clothes lying in bed wondering if I actually existed. In between this and trying to spend as little money as possible, I seriously considered letting my hair grow out. I have not had long hair since I was 17. Mostly every time I think about growing my hair out, I think about the shaggy dog phase and then decide that I don’t want to do it.

In November I asked for a haircut for my birthday, which I didn’t get. I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time. I think I just couldn’t be bothered to get a haircut / didn’t want to spend money on it / wanted my professional hair stylist to do it until I decided that I wanted to grow my hair long enough for a full ponytail and then cut it off.

Okay, most of that is bullshit.

Here’s what I noticed when I first cut my hair back in grade 11: people started calling me ‘sir’. I have never been called ‘sir’ until I cut my hair. I have to make a bit of a stretch to see where people get confused with my gender, but I can see it. I get it, kind of. One might say that I have an androgynous face. I don’t know. Some people are surprised when I tell them people call me ‘sir,’ some people are not.

RIP sweet sunglasses

I also noticed that when I got a fauxhawk, I got called ‘sir’ a lot more, especially at work. This led me to wear v-necks and boots with heels more often.

You see, this is the truth: part of me is afraid I am growing my hair out because I want to “pass.” I’m afraid I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. Semi-consciously I’ve tried to pass at work because let’s face it, it’s fucking awkward when customers realize you’re not actually a ‘sir’. I’ve spent most of my life wanting to fit in with the “normal” kids, but I could never wear the dresses or heels or 234 different kinds of make up. But I could have the long hair. Right? A teeny tiny part of me wants to be normal.

People associate long hair with femininity. If you’re a girl with short hair, you have to have some other sort of “feminine” aspect, e.g. earrings, flowery dresses, shiny hairless legs, lipstick. See, in our world, most girls = long hair. Boys = short hair, and no one has to think too hard.

But really, I want to be a person who is not afraid to be herself. Sometimes I am. I want people to recognize that there is more than one way of looking like a girl. I don’t want to pass.

On the other hand, I want people to see that lesbians can have long hair.

On the other foot, I don’t want my hair to be my identity. Does anyone really care about my hair that much? So while I sit here pondering the meaning of my existence, my hair is growing longer. It’s in a ponytail and it’s really cute, if I may say so myself.

The other truth is that I will probably cut it all off and run rampant like a good angry queer feminist with a radical homosexual agenda and sweet combat boots.

JK about the combat boots.

I feel like you may have some hairstyle-related feelings and I think you should share them in the comments.

Originally published on The Shoreline Receding. Published with glowing, supportive permission.

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Emily Choo started as an intern with Autostraddle when she was 18 years old. She's now 10 years older and lives in Toronto with her partner and cat. The defining moment of her career was when Riese said this about her: " I think Emily Choo is a very bright, 'poetically inclined' girl who pays attention to everything and knows almost everything (the point of stuff, how to read, how beautiful things feel, how scary things feel, etc.) but doesn't believe/accept/realize yet that she knows almost everything." She still doesn't believe she knows anything, so, thank you, Riese, for that.

Emily has written 100 articles for us.


  1. Wow. I can relate. I wanted my hair short for over 10+ years I was always to chicken to cut it. Hair is like a safety blanket. Maybe I was afraid to look “gay” people would figure out what I really felt inside.
    I finally did it, it took two more years of going shoulder length, then chin length.. then finally I said “either cut it off or shave it” I got a fauxhawk. I LOVE it. My family hates it.. but what really matters is that I LOVE it!

    • Same! It took me a very long time to finally cut off my hair, but when I did, I felt amazing. Something about short hair makes me feel very lesbianish =P

      • I totes feel the same way. I got a “man-cut” on Friday and I am in love with it. I love how much tougher and manish I feel with it, lol.

    • This was my experience too, and over the years I went shorter and shorter until I wound up with a highly stacked bob.

  2. So I don’t really get mistaken for a boy but I don totes understand where you’re coming from. I feel like I am so wrapped up in my hair as identity. I initially waited so long to cut it short because I subconciously wanted to be what society wanted me to be.

    And sometimes I feel brave and sometimes I do not. And when I feel like… hey, I can do this, I can be whoever it is I am… I cut my hair off. And at the end of the day it feel really good just being myself and being unique and being comfortable in that.

  3. i just like long hair so i keep mine as such, but i wouldnt just to pass. if anything it makes it more annoying because people cant immediately figure you out(but you can do so by other means, so its not that big a deal). short hair does naturally fit some peoples faces or their personality.

    but honestly if you arent THAT motivated to cut it and are just curious about growing your hair out then go ahead, its not like its going to interrupt your gay-credentials if you had long hair for 5 months before deciding you want it short again.

    • Agreed! As a champion wishy-washer, I am a huge proponent of just try it and see how it feels.

      If a little while from now you start to feel like longer hair is a pain to deal with (very possible), you don’t like how it looks on you, or you feel like you’re “faking it” to pass (because really, however you feel about it is what matters), cut it off again.

  4. So I’m definitely feeling this issue right now. However–i’m really sick of everyone assuming I’m straight. But now I have a crush on a boy..and I’m super conflicted about what to do with my hair b/c maybe SUPER Gay isn’t what I’m going for..but I def don’t want people to think I’m straight. I’m in the shaggy period..I also promised i’d grow my hair out and lose weight at the same time as if maybe the fat in my ass could go to growing my hair. So…right now–its in what I have no idea.

  5. I have very long hair, but I always wear it up. I feel like I need an Alternative Lifestyle Haircut, but I worry it won’t work on me. Some girls can have short hair and still look cute. I don’t want to accidentally look like a 12-year-old boy. Or worse, accidentally feel like a 12-year-old boy. Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge and if I hate it, let it grow back. One day…

    • I’d like to point out that hair has long been an issue for me. I never liked dealing with my long, thick, luxurious mane of Italian hair. As a child, I had a shorter haircut and was mistaken for a boy at times. Maybe that gave me a complex about my hair. I don’t know. I’ve just always hated having hair flying around on my face, but I’ve equally hated looking like a dude. I’ve just worn my hair up everyday for the past, oh, 15 years.

    • sometimes i think i look like a 12 year old boy. it’s my endless asian youth. but i also have extremely thick hair which is so annoying.

        • OMG I LOVE girls that look like preteen boys!
          Sometimes I’ll think I see a *really* hot girl and I’ll go to make eye contact and then be super disappointed when it turns out – yet again – to be a twelve year old boy!

          • this happens to me all the time! especially while driving. my gf finds it hilarious. my best friend finds it disturbing. i find it annoying.

          • thankyouthankyouthankyou for speaking out about your hearty appreciation for boyish girls. i feel so much better about cutting my hair now that i know that *someone* understands what i’m going for.

  6. I have long hair and I have always toyed with the idea of cutting it off so that I have some sort of passive tool to inform people of my identity. However I’m always stopped by the fact that I LOVE my long hair and I think it looks nice and that’s all that matters in the long run.
    You never know though… the scissors get close to it every summer….

    • I feel you girl. I have long hair. Like 3 feet long hair. Sometimes I think about cutting it to make it more obvious that I’m gay. You know, make a statement and all that. But then I realize that i love my long hair. This is going to sound weird, but i love that I have years and years of history on my head. I love wearingymy hair down and free and wavy and it shows my hippie side. I love wearing it in super long pigtail braids. I sometimes even love when I (rarely) straighten it. My hair is really the only super feminine thing about me, but I do sometimes feel guilty about how it let’s me “pass” and I feel like a bad queer.

      Also, if I did cut my hair, my preschool class would KILL me. Then they couldn’t play beauty parlor and call me Rapunzel anymore. I can’t make 4 year olds cry.

      Omg I’m laughing hysterical right now, because I’m writing this during naptime, and I swear to god as soon as I wrote the thing about my preschoolers, one of them just got up from his bed and said “miss Caitlin, can I touch your hair?” told you guys.

      • I went through this phase after college. I cut my hair super short to inform others of my gayness because I felt I wasn’t getting noticed by women. What ended up happening was I didn’t feel like myself!

        It is my general belief, spending most of my time in NYC and occasionally LA, that long hair is the new alternative lifestyle haircut. There are lots and lots of lesbians with long flowing locks. If you like they way you look with long hair, keep it!! Long hair is sexy. Don’t worry about informing people of your gayness, hair doesn’t determine that. Hair doesn’t even have to determine how femme or butch you are! Be you, and people will figure it out.

        • I was going to say the same thing :) I have it like that (without the blonde part).
          Lately I’ve been thinking about shaving the sides off, but leaving the upper part half long. Or something.

          I shaved it all off once and it was not a good experience.. I kind of liked the idea, but I felt sorry the moment it had happened. It was the year I was going to start in college, I felt bad about my look and thought I wasn’t going to make any new friends. I turned out alright in the end.

          After a year or something I started feeling okay about my hair again. Which is a long period.
          It’s a cool story to tell.

      • First – if your hair choice involves the potential to make 4 year olds cry then be careful. (Also i feel like that is a lot of pressure…?)

        2nd being that i just got my first alt haircut and looooove it. I’ve dark curly hair that doesn’t do short. It’s curly, i’m lazy so straightening was never a choice for me. Much jealousy over those with asymmetrical cuts that were straight and cute.

        BUT i found my answer! I got an undercut (on one side to start). It’s on the side that doesnt curl well (this is a real thing :P) So now I have shorter hair that i can easily cover up by wearing the layer above it down. Even when it’s back the hair is long enough to not seem in your face short. Also at the nape i had steps (lines) put in to soothe my urge for something extreme. All the work i need is to maybe flatten the sides by my ears when drying and i get some cool sideburn stuff happening.

        Anyways i love it – great first attempt and will be sporting it for awhile!

    • I am right there with you. My hair hasn’t been shorter than my lower back since I was about 13. I generally love it. I wanna be that cool old lady with long gray hair. But then I have those days when I feel like I don’t “read” as gay, like I pass too well as straight. So I have rainbow earrings and stuff. And, as my wife points out, the one person to whom my gayness really matters (her), I’m obviously gay.

      • I had super long hair too, and I recently cut it to my shoulders. I still present really femmy though. I find the thing that informs other ladies that I’m gay isn’t the length of my hair, but how hard I make eyes at them.

      • Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to report this comment! I clicked that by mistake.

        Anyhow, I also pictured myself as somebody with long grey hair, but then o got a short haircut a year and a half ago, and I like it.

    • yes!! I have been toying with the idea of cutting my hair really short for what seems like forever. I cut it to about my ears a couple years ago but have been growing it out since and now i think its really pretty long but recently realized I’m bi or maybe lez and no girl gives me a second glance so I kind of want to cut it short to better advertise. I know that *shouldn’t* matter and my sexuality doesn’t have to do with my hairstyle, but it does. I think I’m taking the plunge as a post-finals/birthday celebration this may. donating a foot or so to locks for love :)

  7. i’m styling a “shaggy dog hair” right now. argh.
    cutting it off this sunday. uh huh.
    i love that feeling when you exit the hair stylist’s and you feel sort of naked, weird, and at the same time liberated, weird.. right?
    i could write a song about it.

  8. I had short hair a lot when I was little because I liked to copy my older sister, and I can’t even remember how many times the well-meaning older women in the bathroom tried to steer me out the door to the “little boys’ room.” For a girl who was so very girly (I loved pink lace and wanted to be a ballerina) it bothered me surprisingly little.

    But as I got older, I was more and more concerned with how my hair made me look, and I don’t think I realized the extent to which that still sticks with me. I also have a tendency to use my hair as a security blanket when life goes wrong, so having long hair usually means that my mental health has been unstable at some point in that growing-out process.

    I think particularly because I’m bi, I’m also hyperaware of how long hair makes me look vs. short hair. If my hair is long, I’m not gay enough for my gay friends, and if it’s short, I’m too gay for my straight friends. It’s stupid but it’s a thing.

  9. I’ve struggled with this since I was a thirteen-year-old babyqueer and chopped off my waist-length hair. I was just coming out, and I wanted to make some sort of a statement that I was “different”. Seven years and many short haircuts later, I’ve made the decision to grow out my (bright pink) mohawk into a more feminine undercut because I’ve realized that I actually do want to look more like a “girl”. The most important thing about getting a haircut, in my opinion, is that you have to do it for *you*, and not for anyone else. Your hair isn’t what makes you gay, or different, or you. Your hair can be a part of your identity, but don’t let it become the whole thing. That way lies madness…

  10. I’ve been coming closer and closer to just cutting my hair off. I have extremely thick and curly hair that’s a little past my shoulders. I technically really need to have it longer so it can go in a ponytail or a bun for dance. But hell, I’m sick of people asking me if I have a boyfriend, and guys hitting on me, and old perverts blatantly staring at me. I really like my longer hair, but it’s so hard to maintain, and I kind of don’t want to pass. Maybe I should get an undercut.
    I’m also sick of my cousins telling me I sit like a man, so if I got a ALC, I could be like “SEE I DON’T CONFORM TO YOUR SEXIST BEAUTY STANDARDS, KISS MY TEGAN AND SARA SHIRT.”

    • I was growing out my hair since I had a (traumatic) boyish haircut at the age of 8. It grew out to be super thick super curly and super long (like to the middle of my ribs).
      I just got frustrated and I wanted to be out there and be like GIRLS CAN HAVE SHORT HAIR TOO DAMNIT.
      So in September, I chopped it all off. I mean literally. Most of my hair wasn’t even an inch long anymore. The longest part was maybe 2 inches.
      I LOVED IT. I felt confident and yes people didn’t assume anymore that I was straight.
      So I get how you feel about maintaining the long curly hair. I think you should do it! Chop it off!

      • The only thing I’d be worried about it that the shorter my hair goes, the kinkier my curls get. So looking like a brunette Annie is a concern.

      • Also, do you have a problem with a hairdresser actually CUTTING YOUR HAIR. Because I tell mine “I want mine shorter, but not a bob, uniform all over. I want about two inches cut off.” and she cuts maybe a quarter of a inch, and just trims the rest, so it’s like I haven’t even gotten a haircut.

        • I used to have that problem! Because they would refuse to cut it like “your hair is so pretty etc etc”
          Well when I cut my hair it became kind of straight because it wasn’t long enough to curl. But maybe my hair is just weird?

      • Thank you for posting nikki99 and AG. Like you Nikki, I also had a boyish haircut at that age. having it and growing it out were genuinely traumatic experiences for me. Now I want to cut it short but so many things are scaring me out of going through with it :( I feel there aren’t many cute short haircuts for curly hair and I’m especially afraid of getting it wrong :/

  11. i’m a white girl with short hair, and i get tons compliments on my haircut from black female friends and strangers – gay/straight/whatever. i think there’s way less of a stigma/automatic assumption of lesbianism attached to short hair in the black community.

    on the other hand, south asian men consistently call me ‘sir’ and are often startled as eff when i hand them my identification (if, for instance, i am buying liquor).

    i don’t really know what all that means for anyone, except that i’m probably going to get yelled at in subsequent comments for talking about race in a generalized fashion. but this is really my experience.

    • JJ – short hair is healthier and more manageable, and therefore more common amongst black women, who want a ‘neat’ look without perms or harsh chemicals, which can break the ends. I don’t know about you, but my hair is very oily and even when it was long did not get dry. So most white girls don’t feel the need for manageability purposes.

      Middle aged (and older) ladies of any race tend to be less judgmental toward short haircuts. My grandmother and many women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s have told me how cute they think my short hair is. They don’t think ‘alternative’ when they see a girl with a pixie cut or bob; they’re thinking of Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy, or the punks in the 80s. They just think it’s retro and ‘neat.’

      I sometimes get mistaken for a boy too. Which I think is a little ridiculous.

    • I’m South Asian, my family is South Asian, when I cut my hair, everyone in my family said ‘Oh we have a boy in the family now!’

      Kind of ironic though because everyone else said I looked so feminine now and how short hair ‘accented my high cheekbones’

      Anyways, don’t take it personally. South Asian people automatically associate short hair to boys.

  12. I can definitely sympathize with whats going on here. I went through a phase where I really felt that for people to stop assuming I was straight, I had to do something radical with my hair. This included numerous pixie cuts after high school, some colorful spikes, and some general otherwise still pretty dull short haircuts. Truth be told when I look back at those photos I’m mostly annoyed that I let myself cut my hair because it really did nothing for my face shape! Sure, I had short hair and it was great and I felt radical and super gay, but it just…wasn’t attractive.

    I think some may have the reverse situation happen… maybe they grow out their hair for whatever reason and then look back and think “wow, that really didn’t look so good.” Shit happens.

    Go look in the mirror and check out your hair. Do you like it? Do you like it enough to keep this way for more than a week? Is there something different you really want to do with it? Does it make you feel good about yourself? If it makes you feel good and you feel confident and you like it…by all means keep it. If it makes you feel remotely uncomfortable or you’re not sure, then change it!

    The beauty of it is that it’s just hair… it will grow back if you cut it, and if you let it grow, you can cut it anytime you wish. Just don’t let society as a whole send you down a path of rotten hair cuts/styles just because people are ignorant and use the wrong pronouns.

  13. ehh a tough psychological issue there. i once ascribed all of my femininity to my long, blond, wavy hair and men loved it, so i made myself think that it’s all i’ve got to get some action. then i came out and started cutting my hair, because i didn’t feel like i needed to play my looks up to the male gaze and desire. paradoxically this made me look so assertive and self-confident that the attractivness followed. it’s tough to figure it out for yourself though, because on the one hand you don’t want to be a slave to your looks, but on the other you do wanna project some sort of image you enjoy. so to sum up, i would say “don’t ask what you can do with your hair, but ask what it can do for you.” how does it make you feel about yourself, does it convey the true you, does it do anything for you? just make it work!

  14. Hairstory:
    Three weeks ago, had long, thick, beautiful hair. I went to my hairdresser’s wanting to do something different with it. He asked me “how do you feel about short?” I shrugged and said “you have carte blanche”. So here I am, with a wicked asymetrical haircut. It’s very european. You cannot believe the amount of compliments I got from this haircut in the last three weeks. I’m talking from everyone… male/female/straight/queer/everyone. I went back yesterday and asked my hairdresser to cut it a little shorter on the top so I could gel/mousse/wax it to sexify it/fauxhawks.

    So now, I am proud to sport short, thick, beautiful hair! And I know this is cliché but it’s SO NOT what you wear. It’s totally HOW YOU WEAR IT!

  15. I have some first world problems to contribute!

    I have Gainful Employment, and get my hair cut monthly by a funky salon in the Lower East Side. Thing is, I have super-thick, wavy hair that wants to grow sideways out of my head, so the difference between Alternative Lifestyle Hair and Grandma Needs a Touchup involves a hair iron, much goop, and knotting a scarf around my head skintight when I go to bed with wet hair.

    My stylist suggested (super gently, with no coercion) getting my bangs and top of my head keratin straightened, but I have crankiness about having to correct my “wrong” hair. Then again, I’m tired of walking out of the house feeling like a soccer mom on mornings where (between grad school, gainful employment, and general life as a twentysomething) I don’t have an hour to spend on my hair. Thoughts, folks?

    • hmm, I dunno, I think perhaps you need a different ALH. Don’t blame the hair. Because all I wish for in the world is that my hair was wavy and would grow out of my head sideways instead of being smooth and flat, I think it would make my floppy asymmetrical sort of mohawky thing have much more cache.

    • My mom got her corkscrew curls keratin-treated and everyone seems to hate/be seriously disconcerted by it — which is funny rather than unfortunate only because she’s happy with it. This may work for you but beware that it may also make your face look weird if you and everyone are used to seeing curly hair around it.

    • DO THE KERATIN TREATMENT. It will be the best thing that has ever happened to you. I got it, and now I don’t have to wash my hair everyday to avoid looking like I have squirrels living in my hair. Do it.

    • i have really curly hair (think tiny tiny corkscrews…SO MANY OF THEM) and lately i’ve been keeping mine pretty short. i didn’t straighten it completely, but i did make it so it was wavy, maybe how you described your hair to be? so maybe it’s just the cut, see if you can tweak it a little and work with it.

  16. Girls and their hair. Ferreals people, it’s a thing. A BIG thing. I’ve been going back and forth on the idea of cutting my hair all kinds of homogay alternative lifestyle short for years now but I just can’t get myself to do it. It took me a long time to come to terms with my nearly unmanageable curly head of hair and I kind of completely love it now. And I think it looks great long (with enough product and expletives). Granted, part of me is so sick of always coming off straight and I think short hair is super cute. But i just don’t know if short and curly/frizzy/limpfro hair go together. knowwhatimsayin? I keep getting people who say it’ll look ridic short and others who say I’ll look fabulous. I need some sort of consensus…

    Though, a lot of this could have to do with the intensely traumatic summer before 8th grade when the lady at Supercuts cut my hair waaaaay too short and I cried and threw an angsty tweenie fit and refused to leave my, room let alone my house, and threatened to drop out of middle school because 8th grade was about to start in a week and my life was essentially ruined due to my unfortunately short haircut. I’m still kind of traumatized from the entire experience and I’ve never cut my hair shorter than shoulder length since. My mother didn’t really give a flying fuck and shipped me off to class with two options: a headband or a hat. I chose a bandana. How I didn’t know I was a flaming homosexual back then is beyond me. A BANDANA PEOPLE…THAT WAS MY SOLUTION.

  17. I had long hair until just a couple months ago! It wasn’t really a huge change for me because I’ve had short hair before, but my mom FREAKED OUT about it and I couldn’t quite explain to her that my long hair was THE MAIN REASON people were assuming I’m straight and as such preventing me from getting any kind of action, even at parties full. of. lesbians.

    For me it was about being visibly queer so that people would yknow, actually believe me when I said I wasn’t interested in guys/assume it’s a gay until graduation thing. Also it sort of eliminates the need for girls to wonder exactly how straight I am–now they probably wonder if I’m a dyke or just a hipster.

    I totally would grow it out again–just right now, esp. since I’m all reinventing myself n shit at college, it’s more convenient to accept being stereotyped. Plus..I really like the way it looks, and ultimately liking your hairstyle should be more important than worrying about what random people might think :)

    • This is really weird timing I actualy just cut off my hair for the first time (it was very long before). I honestly thought it would be so much scarier than it feels. I went in excepting to just get a trim and then ended up deciding on the big chop. I didn’t even cry and it honestly feels so much more me and everyone that has seen it has liked it and said it looks more like me. But it has definitely messed with some aspects of my life in good and bad ways. Wearing clothes like skirts always felt kind of weird but I forced it at times. Now I feel like I really just won’t wear things that make me feel weird. On the flip side I feel a little pressure to dress gayer and more boyish which also isn’t me. And now im like ah what will other girls wirh short hair think?! I need to separate the idea of hair and gender and identity and just throw out alll the shit stereotypes that are stuck in my head. Bottom line I love my hair cut. I love girls with short hair. I can dress more feminine or more masculine because I am a person not a haircut or an idea you can put in a box and define. Log hair or short hair girls are beautiful and I’m glad you made us think about this

      • This this this. I really want to get my hair totally chopped and I’m trying to convince everyone that it’s for a male part that I’m playing soon, which I actually am doing but that’s not exactly the sole reason for the change. I’m really fucking terrified because my hair is my safety net and pretty much the only thing that keeps people from automatically assuming I’m gay and dear lord this is all so terrifying. I feel like I should just do it right? But high school is a mean place.

        • i think you really just have to ask yourself which you would regret more- cutting it or not cutting it?

          although i agree, high school is mean. that’s why if you cut it you just have to be like HELL YEAH I HAVE THIS HAIRCUT AND I LOOK DAMN GOOD

        • Girl, you should just do it. Yes, high school is a mean place, but it’s also JUST high school. These people will mean absolutely nothing to you in a few years. You should be who YOU want to be and not give a fuck ( about what those people think. I had the same experience in high school. Middle of TX, everyone is conservative and homophobic, and I said fuck it. Me and about 3 other people from my grade came out in their face. It was liberating and changed the entire way our school functioned. Yeah, some people picked on us at first. But, in the long run, it turned out great. I felt better about myself and that new-found confidence made people realize that being queer wasn’t something to be ashamed or afraid of. By the time I graduated, it was entirely gay friendly! It was awesome to be a part of that huge change in our town, and even if your school doesn’t react in such a positive way, at least it will open some peoples eyes, and you’ll know you’re being you, and people like you for YOU. Short hair, and everything that comes with it :)

      • I hear you on the feminine-clothes-with-short-hair feeling weird. I am a small person with small and feminine facial features and have only ever been “sirred” once in my life I think, so it’s not that my short hair will ever actually make me look like a guy. But I have been surprised by how inappropriate certain feminine outfits now look and feel on me. When I’m getting dressed up for fun or going onstage (I’m in a band) I tend to go early-60s-style femme and this is no problem because there’s an image I’m aspiring to and I’m in control of it — it’s when I have to go to things like formal functions or job interviews that I wish it would work for me to just wear a suit and tie or something.

        • yeah it’s like sometimes you just wish every eye in the room didn’t zoom in on you & regret giving up the option to be invisible in situations like that. Like I’ll go to a party at school and even if i wear exactly what everyone else wore I would still stick out. on days when I’m a mushy pile of feelings I don’t want that. but then I wake up and am like WAIT wtf am i saying.. I love being unique but at times it’s uncomfortable

  18. I had short short hair for most of my life. I had an awful mushroom cut until I was about 11, and was often mistaken for a little boy. All of the girls in my class had long hair, yet when I went to highschool, every girl I knew had dreadful mushroom cuts when they were really young, too.


    I started growing my hair out around age 11, but got it cut short again for my grade 8 graduation photo (in really badly done layers, which looked not unlike a helmet). Then before starting highschool, I got it cut even shorter, into a spiky pixie. I never realized how unflattering it was. My clothing style was also pretty androgynous: heavy boots, baggy jeans, wooden beaded/heavy metal chains around my neck, the occasional drop chain. I was also kinda chubby.
    I started growing my hair out again when I began losing weight in grade 12.

    By the end of highschool, I had a sort of shaggy bob, as well as a more svelte physique, wore more make up, and more “feminine” clothing (no doubt inspired by my newfound self-confidence. I wasn’t trying to hide my chubby legs, anymore).

    Before starting university, I chopped all of it off, again, and dyed it cherry red. I was entering an art program, so I figured I needed to look alternative and edgy. As it turned out, I was the “wildest”-looking person in my program, and some of those who I’d later befriend told me that when they first met me, my hair scared them.

    I became very self-conscious about my hair when I started crushing on guys. My second year crush would stalk my Facebook, and actually put posts on my wall insisting that I grow my hair out. I was all like, “fuck you dude, you’re into highschool girls”, but it made me feel pretty bad. Another guy who was into me (the feelings were not mutual at all) asked me if I was a lesbian, and when I asked why he’d ask me that, he said, “It’s your short hair, you know?” My best friend and I, during the summer between 2nd and 3rd year, were having one of our world-famous discussions one night at a Starbucks, and I was bitching about how it isn’t fair that girls like me, with short hair, aren’t considered conventionally attractive by the opposite sex, and we came to the conclusion that I used my short hair to keep boys away. I was (still am) very insecure about my appearance, and inadvertently used short hair to protect myself from male attention, even as I was crushing on guys. Sort of a self-fulfilled prophecy. I was using my hair as an excuse to not to after guys, because they wouldn’t find me attractive anyway, because I did not conform to typical standards of female beauty. Also, I’d had short hair for so long, that I felt secure keeping it short.

    Soooo I started growing my hair back out at about 20? And it’s funny how the attention started coming as it grew to and past my shoulders. Suddenly my male peers were like, “Your hair looks really nice, now. It softens you.” Part of me feels as though I’ve “sold out” in growing my hair, but I am pretty atypical of most girls, anyway, and realized that the length of my hair doesn’t define who I am.

  19. I have lots of feelings about hair. For example, I was employed as a Kindergarten teacher when I came out. I had your typical long, bright red straight girl haircut. I had a “butchier” gf at the time so I felt like I had to wear dresses and keep my hair long. I wasn;t really friends with any lesbos at this time so I just figured we should stay within gender norms. Flash forward to our break up and I realized that not only was she cray cray for not letting me have dyke friends but she had been keeping an awful secret from me. MY HAIR MADE ME NOT GAY (or so I thought)

    My best friend actually said to me “You are like a fake lesbian with your long hair”. WTF is that Olivia? I had a huge identity crisis and decided to cut it off. Sadly, I went to the cheapest place in South Philly and the stylist obvi didnt understand my need for a “meet hot girls” hair cut and I ended up looking like a soccer mom.

    I grew it out again and continued to feel like I wasn’t dykey enough. I wore American Apparel Hoodies and got my lip pierced but I could never get past the feeling that the lack of OK Cupid messages was due to my long straight girl hair. The only messages I did get were from more masculine presenting women and for some reason I was having a huge problem having to choose between cutting my hair off and getting a girl I was actually attracted too.

    Luckily, this winter I made friends with a hair stylist and she gave me the best fucking hair cut ever. Everyone keeps asking if I’ve lost weight or changed something. Really its my new asymmetrical haircut. WTF girls. Why are we doing this to each other? I don’t want to look like Justin Bieber but I want other girls to notice me on the street and know that I am gay. Why must we wear our hair like a pride flag on our back in order to feel accepted and “gay enough”?

    • I think a lot of the judgment just comes from fear. I say this based on things like, for instance, some of the comments on the bisexuality open thread a while back. There is, I think, this fear that women who have more of an option to “return” to straight society will do so. A short haircut makes it harder for a woman to do that, harder to pass, less likely to betray. It is like a kind of wedding ring to the lesbian community.

      (I am thinking also of Eileen Myles, “Being Female,” “the persistent experience of witnessing the quick revulsion of people who believe that because I love women I am a bottom feeder. I am desperately running towards what anyone in their right mind would be running away from.” Many of us may have internalized the thought that the girls we love naturally will run away from us if given the chance.)

      And there are may also be more benign sources like agonizing over whether some girl you like is in fact gay and wouldn’t it be more polite to everyone if there was a way to tell — or wishing that your girlfriend would just come out already, perhaps.

      • THIS. Hair is a clear signal that makes it harder to ‘pass’ as straight.

        I think there’s also this fear that “omg if I hit on a girl who turns out to be straight I’ll be rejected/made fun of/seen as creepy or weird”. So we want obvious visual ways to tell if a girl is into other girls–like short hair, studded belts, piercings, etc.–because that protects us from possible rejection, social awkwardness, or humiliation.

  20. Hairstyle-related feelings? I have many.

    I am in a similar state of emotional turmoil regarding affairs of the barnet, and have been for some time.

    It’s like every inch of growth is a visible sign of indecision, each increasingly unkempt follicle a lank reminder of my prevarication.

    There’s no denying that the shorter your hair is, the more likely the generally ignorant masses will assume you are lesbionically-aligned/male. I am making no judgements about the right/wrongness of this (other than casually blaming the patriarchy for their incessant reinforcement of the unrealistically rigid gender binary everything), however, I’m not genderqueer.

    I quaintly enjoy being a girl, and when I had v short hair as a teenager it was kind of annoying when people mistook me for a boy. Although I am now sufficiently proportioned in the chest area to assuage any doubts, I get annoyed enough already with the top-heavy perils of prominent cleavage without having to emphasise it any more as proof of gender.

    So I am wondering if there are invisible boundaries that a haircut can cross, that take into the golden territory of queerdom: just gay enough to provoke suspicion, not so gay as to get you grief.

    Also, I am secretly hoping for some sort of reverse-Samson effect, where lopping off my locks will imbue me with magical strength and I will suddenly feel super confident. Really, this is a lot or pressure to be putting on one’s head of hair and I am surprised it hasn’t fallen out in protest/demanded therapy.

    All I really want is a zero-maintenance ‘do that’s just short enough for people (girls) to take pause because something’s niggling in their brain (pants) that perhaps someone sporting such a ‘do might just be a little bit queer (fuckable).

    Is that really too much to ask for?

    • For several years in my early 20s I had short, messy/spiky hair which I had cut every 6 weeks and while it gave me some mighty anxiety (“am I too butch-looking for a girl who’s never even made out with a girl? Is this ‘false advertising’ and fake?”) I nevertheless loved my ‘warrior hair’. Every time I had it cut, it was like my entire self being remade, over and over again. Like Samson in reverse. Seriously, that’s the phrase I used. It made me feel really powerful and I loved that it challenged people’s perceptions of me. If only I’d had the courage to come out then to myself and others… On the plus side, I’ve since realised I’m bi so I guess it was ‘real advertising’ after all… Perhaps I just should have taken my own heavily-dropped hints sooner, though I did tell a (now very ex) boyfriend who wanted me to grow it out, exactly what he could do with that stupid idea.
      You do you. Your hair is there for your enjoyment, before anyone else’s.

    • Oh my god. How could I forget about your blog. But I did. But now I have read it. From where did you get such an epic talent. You write like Jackie Du Pre played.

  21. I agree with a lot of what’s being said. I have gone back and forth between long and short haircuts all my life, and I’m currently settled somewhere in the middle.

    I think it’s all about what makes you comfortable. When I had my hair long, I liked the pretty, feminine way it made me feel at first, but over time I always grew uncomfortable with it, like I was pretending to be someone I’m not. Regardless of whether my hair is short or long, I still apparently “pass” (more of a fail really, I don’t want to look that straight!) so I can’t really speak to the whole short hair wards off guys thing.

    For me personally, long hair didn’t feel right, but it all depends on the person. My feeling is that as long as you are happy with your hair, that’s all that matters. No one should feel bad because of their haircut.

  22. In elementary school I used to have little boys haircuts. Then I grew it out during jr high but it was so annoying to style so through high school I kept cutting it short then growing it out again then back to short. I couldn’t make up my mind. Now I keep it short, but I change the style almost every time I get it cut because I get bored with it so easily.

    I found having long hair to be boring. I could have a) long hair w/ bangs or b) long hair w/out bangs and that was just not enough options for me.

  23. I spent 23 years longing for short hair but being afraid that I had too round/fat a face. Then, on New Year’s Eve Eve, I got an awesome haircut, and I could not be happier. Looking at pictures of myself with long hair, it just looks incongruous or childish or something. And while I do dress primarily in clothes I found in the dude section, I don’t necessarily think it’s the femininity of the hairstyle or clothing that I’m rejecting, it’s also a great deal about the aesthetics. I like the way I look now, not because I look dykey or like a dude, but simply because I like it.

    Passing is something I only really worry about on the subway late at night–I button my coat or otherwise de-emphasize my chest. Its possible other people have assumed I was a dude, but once I speak or say my name they will be corrected, and that’s their binary understanding of gender presentation problem, not mine, ya know?

    • I know what you mean! I love wearing more masculine clothes because of the lines–the simplicity of a button down shirt, for example, just appeals more to me than women’s tops. And I like the way I feel wearing such clothes.

  24. I have long hair and people call me sir anyway because of my face/size. I really don’t care anymore. It used to make me want to cry and scream but that was because I wanted to be normal. Plus, I think sometimes people did it to be rude. I always just assumed it had to hurt and be terrifying because I am female. But really, I don’t care anymore what gender people think I am as long as I am comfortable with how I look.

  25. Oy. So many feelings.

    I’m pretty femmey and I’ve always had long hair, but when I got to college in the fall, I was like, fuck it. I was sick of everyone assuming I was straight, so I got several piercings and cut off a lot of my hair. Now I have a choppy, layery bob, but people still think I’m straight. I’ve been toying with the idea of cutting it even shorter. I like this cut a lot:

    It’s super cute, but I don’t know if I can pull it off. Hm… Oh, who am I kidding. I’m probably gonna do it.

  26. i have long hair…long thick curly hair that i have to straighten or i look like hagrid..i look awful with short goes bonkers and takes forever to do every day..i’m a hairdresser so i know my hairs limitations exactly..but hell..i come out over and over and over again..and sometimes i come out to other lesbians and they look at me like i’m trying it on for fun..or curious and will often say `but you dont have a very lesbian haircut’. i could explain that when i was fourteen at the teens disco nite i was the only girl wearing a mans suit and tie..but still had long hair! i love my hair but sometimes its like a blanket of invisibility. so i have the thumb rings the big lesbian tattoo and the long hair..and the ever optimistic hope that long hair does become the new `alternative lifestyle haircut’

  27. Hairdressers kept tricking me into getting chin length or other medium styles instead of the short hair I wanted (this photo is of an in-between stage) and when I was finally getting it done the guy kept asking me if I was okay with it as of he was expecting me to cry or something. I don’t know, I’ve always hated my big bushy hair and the past few months with short hair have been wonderful, I feel so much more confident.

    However I don’t look particularly masculine with short hair, since I generally wear makeup etc. so I’ve never been called sir- in fact, since I look so much older with it I overhear mothers at my work telling kids to go ‘talk to the lady’ rather than the girl, which is cool :)

  28. I have long hair and I usually wear it down, always have been. No matter how boyish I dress, how little makeup I wear or how much I bind (some clothes just look better that way), people never assume I’m a boy, or even gay.
    I’m kind of a boi at heart, and I wish people could see that, but I love my hair. I love the way it blows in the wind, I love the way it curls perfectly down my back when I walk out of the shower, I love how I never have to cut it, I love the way my girlfriend tangles her fingers in it, I love the way it’s me.

    Maybe I am just a coward. Maybe I keep it because it makes it easer to be appreciated in a world where female masculinity isn’t always celebrated. I don’t know.

    My hair.

  29. I have long, blonde, curly hair and I love correcting arrogant men when they mistake me for someone “nice” and “traditional”…when i go out gay clubbing, i just tie it back with a bandana or put it in a pony-tail quiff
    I’ve considered short hair, but I don’t think i’ll go there for various (slightly incoherent) reasons – 1. I think butch tops are very attractive, and to make a wild generalisation, they tend to go for more femmey girls 2. Can one even have an ALH with curly blonde hair? I refuse to straighten it…

  30. I spent 20 years with long hair because my father thought that’s how girls should look. Then, slowly through college, my hair got shorter and shorter, and I got happier and happier. Not becuase long hair doesn’t look good on me, but it just wasn’t ME. Now I rock the mo/fauxhawk. I have a professional job, and occasionally when people first meet me in my job they do the double take, but I have learned to ignore it. Because really, if they are going to assume I can’t do my job becuase of my hair, then they are morons.

    And although I love my hair and am not ashamed of it- sometimes things happen that just make me pause and go “WTF.” I am picky about where i go to get it cut, becuase I have had salon stylists try their damnest to get me to “grow it out a little, so you look more feminine!” Then my dad will occasionally send me pictures of myself from high school with a note that says “I loved your hair like that, you should grow it out!” *side note- NO ONE wants to go back to their high school haircut when their high school was in a different decade. Just saying.

  31. My hair has this thick, tangle-prone texture and probably hates me, so I’ve been wearing it short since the third grade or so to keep it in line. The only “bad” haircut I’ve ever had was in the fourth grade when I told my dad I wanted a flapper-type bob, and promptly discovered dang I look bad with a flapper-type bob. Didn’t really go shorter than shoulder-lengthish until after high school, though. My mom doesn’t like it because she can’t put it in fancy updos for parties, but I’m guessing she’ll hate it more when I tell her I have a girlfriend someday.

    • Also my hips are TOO RIDICULOUS to ever be mistaken for a boy. And I think I’m currently unintentionally on a run of haircuts that make me look like Justin Bieber, though I always have the Beatles or Roy Orbison in mind :(

  32. I can definitely relate to this, actually… I cycled through loving my short hair as a little kid, loving long hair as a preteen, and then, finally deciding to cut it when I was fourteen… It may seem kind of silly, after all, it’s only hair- but the feeling of having extremely short hair was just one of the most amazing experiences I’d ever had. It made me feel rebellious and giggly and all sorts of lovely things of that sort- but mostly it was sort of my first way of admitting to myself that I liked the boyish look, that I liked to look a bit more andro than feminine… My mum hated it precisely because it did make me look like a boy, but that only made me love it all the more. I guess, in a way, it was as close as I could get to coming out to my parents without actually having to come out and deal with their prejudices…

    In my case, if I can say I learned anything it would be this- your head of hair is only as much a part of your identity as you let it be. People can judge you based on your looks, they always do, but whatever you do to your hair, the most important thing is that you love how it looks.

  33. I cut my hair short for the first time after I dumped my fiancee’ when I was 20. My brother asked me, “so, are you a lesbian now or what?” I laughed and grew it out again. Fast forward 9 years to another short haircut and the realization that he knew then what I have since realized!

  34. Okay, so whats bothering me a bit is the word “pass” used strangely, because in the trans community it is often used to mean you pass as your preferred gender. As in transguy says he wants to pass, means he wants to be seen as a guy from the cisgendered people.

    Anyway, I have short hair, i got it like i guess two years ago and never went back. I have a pretty feminine face i guess, so i dont often get called sir.

    I do identify as genderqueer, and when i wear what i like people often made jokes saying oh ___ you are trying to look like a lesbian now. When in reality I feel incredibly uncomfortable looking feminine and now that i don’t care about what people think I can dress how I want.

    I would love it if people called me sir, but I know if i made my hair even shorter it wouldn’t look good on me, as its pretty short to begin with.

    • I’ve also heard it used in the context of people of colour “passing” as white (a way more complicated situation, I think, and generally down to the asshole assumptions of others). It just means “member of non-privileged group appearing as member of privileged group”, I don’t think the way it’s used here is that strange? although I’m willing to be corrected.

      • No I understood what they meant, that they were trying to pass as straight.

        I only found it strange because whenever I hear the word pass( even in drag) , it generally comes to mind as passing as whichever gender u want.
        So I found it funny when in fact they didn’t want to pass at all ( as in look like a guy) they wanted to look feminine, and then that meant straight.
        I know I’m not phrasing it right, I’m just trying to say it seems like the word pass is being used in the opposite of what I normally hear it as, when talking in the trans community.

  35. I love my short haircut, i cut it about 5 months ago and i have no regrets whatsoever.

    also, this article is why i love autostraddle..

  36. I love having long enough hair to wear down. It suits me and makes me feel pretty. Unfortunately, for me to feel awake or functional in a business-y way at all, I need to have it up. Wearing my hair up does not remotely flatter me. Problem.

    I had an alt lifestyle haircut for a while, and that eliminated the need for countless hair ties in my life, and I suppose I looked cute with it… I’m just so conflicted. The time it takes for me to grow it out through the “shaggy dog” look makes me hesitant to chop it off again.


  37. Hair is complicated! I’ve been wearing mine in a ponytail/braid for pretty much the past decade. This past summer, I desperately needed a haircut and wanted to get it like pixie short, but everyone I asked for hair advice said to keep it long. Like, even queer friends of mine started up with the “But your hair is so pretty long! I don’t understand why you don’t wear it down.” (Uh, because I’m not femme.) I ended up cutting it to shoulder length and tying it back again.

    I don’t know. I guess I want the Platonic ideal of hair? Something androgynous that wouldn’t have to be gelled or flat-ironed to fit WASPy beauty standards, that wouldn’t immediately turn into a puffball, that would look good with my face. I’m not sure it exists in the real world.

  38. I know how you feel! I had short hair all through childhood until high school, and then i finally grew it long for four years. Now it is short again and always looks like shit but I really don’t wanna grow it long again. I stress out about the way it looks but I don’t know what else to do with it. Oh and fucking cowlicks man!

  39. I have great long hair. It’s really pretty. I want to cut it off. My girlfriend doesn’t want me to cut it off – she thinks it’s really pretty, too.

    I, admittedly, pass. It makes me crazy so I wear a rainbow necklace. I don’t want to be straight and I don’t want to be mistaken for straight.

    Ironically (unless you’re queer and understand such things), my gf looks soft butch but is very typically feminine emotionally and otherwise. I look very femme and she tells me I’m “like a dude” all the time.

    So, I want to go short but I keep it long for my gf. Let’s face it, society’s inaccurate definition of me pales in comparison to sleepness nights talking out the impact of my selfish decision with an angry dyke.

  40. I keep changing my mind all the time! Grow it out, so I can pull it back, get it off my neck when I want to. Cut it short so it’s different. I have curly hair though, so it’s hard to come up with ‘trendy’ short cuts. I have an appointment with my hair girl next week. Hopefully we can come up with something I like.

  41. Oh goodness do I have haircut feelings right now.

    When I was a little kid I had super long, sit on it in class type hair, and then I cut it to donate it. I got this awful weird bowl cut/bob hybrid that so did not work with my chubby little kid face, and I immediately grew it long again. And kept it that way, until about 2 years ago.

    I realized that I was using my super long hair as a sort of shield whenever I didn’t want to be noticed, and in a fit of crazy, I went and cut it off. I’ve kept it mid-length ever since, the shortest being a recent bob, which felt liberating and awesome.

    But now I have to cut it really short for the play I’m in and I don’t know what haircut would look best for my face, and I’m spending too much time thinking about this and ahhhhh.

    Hair feelings. so many hair feelings.

  42. I had long hair in high school, and shortly after graduation my life became more and more of a mess and I found myself getting my hair cut shorter and shorter until the end of my freshman year of college I had a pixie cut. I loved the short look and my face and frame is petite enough that it worked nicely, my clothes were pretty feminine so I didn’t have much of a problem. But then I started working at a grocery store where the uniform is a white button up shirt and tie and even though I had my name tag I got a lot of “young man” and “sir”. And then I changed my major to art where you pretty much have to wear dark clothes and things you don’t mind getting dirty in so my wardrobe was a lot of t-shirts and jeans and hoodies. My femme was going away and even though I’d swear that I was growing my hair out, the moment I had an ounce of shagginess I would run to the hair dresser and get it short again. My hair is still short, but it’s in a bob now, my sides are a little longer than my ears and I have short bangs. Whenever the back of my hair gets annoyingly shaggy I just get out the clippers and taper it short again. So far it looks like I’ll have shoulder length hair by the end of summer :)

  43. In the facebook addicted world that I live in..I kept finding myself wanting to click “like” for the comments I agreed with.

    I’ve had both long and short hair. I really love short hair, but the past few haircuts I have had have been terrible. I have really thick hair, and every time I go short, it ends up looking like I have a box on my head.

  44. I figure my girlfriend (who/wherever she is) can have the long hair – I’ve chopped mine off. AND even though my friend keeps calling me “Jimmy Neutron” I don’t give a f@#* because I am a queer goddess of awesome sauce and at least now there’s no question which side my bread is buttered on.
    (well, except for all those suburban soccer moms who keep steeling the queer hair… they really confuse me in the pants sometimes.)

  45. I used to be the girl who cried every time I got my hair cut because I was certain that if I just got the perfect haircut everything would change and I would be awesome. I stopped crying when I started cutting my own hair, but it’s taken me until recently to realize that I was looking for confidence and not a haircut to make me feel good.

    Anyway, my hair now is that floppy mohawk thing that basically the entire world has that I stole from Baby Dre on Miami Ink four years ago. I can feel tough, pretty, masculine, feminine, low-maintenance, fancy, or just pull it up out of my face. I love it because it’s versatile so I never have to commit to any of the whimmy feelings I have to be one of those things.

  46. The only haircut that really looks good on me is shoulder-length or longer with blunt bangs. I love this haircut but I don’t love being mistaken for straight… Anyone have ideas for getting the “I’m queer, no, really” point across in other hair/clothing-related ways?

    • I feel like blunt bangs are kind of a gay way to have long hair, especially when they’re shortish. Anything with some geometry on its side seems gayish to me, whereas for instance long layers or, say, “natural”-looking highlights seem like very straight ways to have long hair.

    • perhaps add a highlight streak or two of a bright rainbow color or do the dip dye thing that is really popular right now (where the bottom 3 or 4 inches of your hair are bleached and/or dyed a different color.)

    • I had a pair of rainbow earrings as a tween. Since I grew up in conservative-land, I didn’t know that a specific rainbow pattern was a symbol for anything. I just wore the hell out of these earrings every day, and wondered how my friend found out I liked girls after I’d constructed such an elaborate Orlando Bloom-poster-covered closet.

      A few years ago I found them again and realized I’d been wearing little gay pride flags from my ears every day for years. Either I have the greatest subconscious mind ever, or my earrings turned me gay (It’s doubtful though. I tried wearing them backwards, and I didn’t turn straight).

      So yeah. Get yourself a pair of those.

  47. I had to grow my hair out temporarily for a ballet performance, but I get to cut it again in the super-near future! Which is great because I’m rockin’ the shaggy dog look right now. Can’t wait to revert back to my spectacularly gay alternative lifestyle haircut!

  48. Right after I graduated high school at 4am in the morning. I compulsively chopped off all my hair! From very long girly to boyish short hair. And I loved it, it was the only decision I have ever made for myself. Its was…..Freeing! I constantly consider growing my hair long but I like not fitting into the norm. I’m gonna go get a trim now. Hehe

  49. I’ve had both short and long hair at different times in my life, and I’ve liked both. My face and build are so feminine I almost never got mistaken as a boy when my hair was short. My hair is fine and curly/wavy and there is a lot of it. Think Hermione hair when it’s long. I had it short recently and I loved it! It was really cute and I could be as butch or femme as I wanted to. But I’ve grown it out because I’ve finally decided I want to put dreadlocks in. So I’m in that weird place between Alternative Lifestyle Hairstyles. I mean, I love my long hair, but it seriously makes people think I’m straight. Can’t wait for the dreads.

  50. Ah, the hair question. Recently I’ve been sort of having an identity crisis with regards to gender. This happens to coincide with my hair finally reaching an un-ugly length from a pixie cut in the summer. Right now it reaches just to the first nob of my spine, with no bangs and the shortest ends hanging around my ears in front- fairly androgynous I think, although on the feminine side.(my hair is straight and brownish-red with a little wave) I’m torn between wanting to grow it out super-long, because I do like having hippie hair and braids and fancy hairdos sometimes, or putting it back in a pixie cut so that it’s more andro again or just shaving it down with a little mohawk in the middle (a la Puck from season 1 of glee) so I can pass as a male most of the time. I have a really feminine face and a lot of curves, so “passing” is sort of a complicated issue. Also, the guy/best friend I’m casually sleeping with also happens to have a buzz-cut so maybe it would seem kind of weird to have mine similar? I’m not really settled on how it is I want to present right now, some days I feel like a fairy princess and some days I resent everything to do with being female, and hair is sort of a long term thing….

    That was rambly, but it’s been bugging me for a while and the only IRL person who knows about this is aformentioned fuckbuddy/best friend who I’m currently not speaking to cause he’s being an ass. In short, I have feeeeeelings.

  51. I had reeeally short hair from about first grade to sophomore year of high school, after which I started growing it. Since then it’s been varying degrees of slightly above or below my shoulders (since it’s really curly it grows slow). I think it looks better longer and though I get pissed off and think about GETTING RID OF IT ALL sometimes, I probably won’t. (Because there’s this terrible poofy phase in between short and long where it only grows OUT and it’s just…bad)

    But, um, 2 cents to all you lovelies with long hair- long hair makes me sa-woon. I have to work on my gaydar because my type is femme all the way but I am terrible at telling the straight ones from the gaymos (seriously to get me to take a hint a girl has to be like P.S. I’M GAY LET’S MAKE OUT). But yeah long hair on girls is amazing and I always fantasize about running my fingers through it while making out and stuff. People who insist that all lesbians must have short hair are silly. (Though rockin’ the ALH can be damn hot too)

  52. I have had short hair most of my life. It began when a boy in nursery school pulled my hair. I sported a bowl cut through most of elementary school then after that a very simple pixie/ Maddow style. I grew my hair to a bob length in 3rd, 6th, and 11th grades. When I was around 24 I decided to go with a buzz cut. That style was cheap and easy to maintain myself with a pair of hair clippers and that style lasted for a year. After much complaining from my mother I decided I would give in and let my hair grow. At some point my mom began suggestion I needed to get a hair cut. I declined, saying that I would wait until a topless photo wouldn’t need to be censored. My hair grew to surpass that length and I only trimmed it a few times during the few years it took for it to reach my waist.
    Today I went to the local Aveda Institute and had my hair cut by a student. About 18 inches of hair was cut that I donated to the students to practice coloring…..
    Today I cut my waist length hair and I look a like Jordan Catalano and Rachel Maddow stirred things together and made a baby.

  53. i cut my hair off in college and am mistaken for a guy daily. when i went abroad to buenos aires, i decided to grow my hair out basically to pass while i was there and not have to put up with homophobia. the thing is, my hair grows really slowly, so even though i grew it out for over a year, by the end of my stay there it was barely to my shoulders. i even dressed a little femmier than i do at home. and guess what? women in buenos aires are ultra-femmy, so none of them had hair that was shorter than their butts, i’m not even kidding. so i still stuck out like a sore thumb, and worst of all, i was miserable because i just didn’t feel like myself. i cut all my hair off approximately 3 days after i got back. so i guess moral of the story is, you should wear your hair so that when you look in the mirror, you love it. because you can’t control any of the other factors, and it’s what makes you feel good that matters in the end.

  54. Hairstyle reflects what I am thinking and feeling, but also the relationships with people I know. For now, I come with medium short hair and plan to make the cut next week. As a kid, my parents preferred long hair and I kept it that way until the late teen. Parents’re shocked at the short hair when their 14 years old daughter returned to Hong Kong from Canada and ‘d not seen them for one year. There’re brief periods of shaggy hair that’s up to the shoulder but it is obvious it is the best of my personality and identity.

  55. Guh, I am so conflicted about my hair. I’m just starting to transition to lady-dom, and I’d like to keep my hair short because I love short hair and girls and it fits with my style better (vaguely butch/androgynous/whatever), but at the same time I’m sure it’ll make passing that much harder, especially considering I have a fairly masculine face/body. Bah. If I were biofem I’d probably just be bald. Stupid body.

    • If that is you in your gravatar my feeling is that your current hair is a little Adam Lamberty, and if there is one thing Autostraddle has taught us it is that Adam Lambert is basically an honorary lesbian. So I feel like probably you are good in that department.

  56. I hate it when hairdressers ask me why I want a haircut because “it’s already so short,” or worry out loud that I will not look feminine “enough”. Um. When I walk in in a flannel shirt and men’s jeans I assume others assume I’m not going for femmy.

    And I just cut my hair short because I don’t like hair touching my neck and I totally enjoy getting “sirred” and not getting hit on by dudes.

    I hope it looks cute but I’m really just worried about not having to fuss with it. These are my feelings, not too many except I am realizing that I need a haircut.

  57. I need to go to bed so I will read the comments tomorrow, but I have a lot of feelings about these things.
    Since like 8th grade I’ve wanted to shave my head. Right before I did a 12-week wilderness thing when I was 18 I thought it would be a good time to do it but instead I cut it to just long enough to have a itny ponytail. in retrospect I wish I’d buzzed it because being in the desert for 6 weeks and then the ocean for another 6 weeks would’ve been better sans hair.
    After that I decided to try and grow it out super long. It’s now nearly down to my waste?

    I’m kind of sick of it and want to cut it all off but I’m really scared. I don’t care about the femininity thing so much…being skinny growing up I never felt womanly anyway. I feel like having long hair is easy and I don’t have to worry about what to do with it but there are so many options for short hair!
    I think I need someone I trust who knows me and knows hair to cut my hairs off.

    I have many more feelings about this.

    • My advice is to shave it, because that’s what worked for me. I too have many feelings about hair.

      I wanted a buzz cut since I was a kid, but I was always talked out of it. In highschool, I had a braid down to my elbows. It was kind of my ‘femininity’ thing too. I always felt put down because I couldn’t do ‘girl’ things as well as I was expected to. I couldn’t walk in heels or put on makeup, but I had hair like a Disney princess, and no one else did.

      The thing is, I liked my hair because it was a sign of success in a way I didn’t really care about being successful. When I went to college, and people stopped making me feel like crap for not being feminine enough, I realized I really didn’t like my hair. It was a mass of keratin hanging off my scalp. I shaved it off. And I really, really liked how I looked. Like that was how I’d want to look if no one else was around.

      Then a few years later I decided I wanted my curls back, because it seemed hypocritical to shave my head but not my pits.

      Basically, it’s hair. It comes back. The few months between buzz cut and ponytail are odd, but they pass. I advise shaving your head now, because a) you’re young enough to make it look badass and not old-people-like and b) you’re more likely to be in a situation where, if you get tired of it, you can just suck it up and wait for the messy in between stage to be over, instead of trying to make it look sophisticated.

      • I think I want to do it soon but I feel like I want to be a little more secure with myself and my life in general first.
        If I already feel good and confident I know I’ll care a lot less about what I look like. I think I’m getting close, though?
        It’s also a little scary because I have a good part time job right now but if I wanted to apply for another job I’m scared that having no hair will make that difficult.

  58. OMG HAIR.

    As a black lady, when I cut my hair/went natural EVERYONE had something to say. Mostly negative. Someone told me I looked like Angela Davis and I was 16 and angsty so that was the biggest compliment of my life. But yeah: “why do you have to be difficult?” “oh, so are you like..african now?” “why does your hair look like that when before it was all straight and pretty?” “is it clean?” “you’ll need to get your ears pierced so people will know you’re a girl” “can you comb it?” “you’ll never get a job with hair like that.”

    One time, I went to get it cut and a hair stylist tried to make me get a perm. Another time, I was at a different salon and the stylist shaved my entire head when i told her that I just wanted it evened out. So now I cut it myself and my mom gets angry because sometimes I get lazy and don’t clean up the hair clippings all the way. I live with my mom because I don’t have a job. Because I don’t have long, permed hair?

    I look like a lady. I have large boobs. Big ‘uns. So usually people will be like “Excuse me sir…OHMIGODI’MSOSORRY!” One time, when I was in college, I went to the gym and the guy at the desk gave me a locker key to the men’s locker room. In order for me to get a locker key, I have to give my student ID card. You know, the one that says my name is JAZMIN on it? It took like 20 minutes for things to get straightened out (because I was convinced I couldn’t read locker numbers) and then I just decided to go back to my dorm. And now I eat a lot of cake.

    • “Someone told me I looked like Angela Davis and I was 16 and angsty so that was the biggest compliment of my life.”

      This sentence actually made me chuckle out loud. But seriously, folks nowadays don’t know how to deal with beautiful, healthy, natural black hair–especially on women. A friend of mine had the same reaction when she cut her hair: people either thought she was being ‘militant’ or that she was a lesbian (or both). What the hell.

  59. Right now I’m somewhere in between the short choppy lesbian and/or hipster cut and long “straight-girl” hair, and I LOVE IT. Ever since I came out I worried about the hair-length-to-gayness ratio before and whether I looked gay enough. I wound up keeping the same long curly hair I’d had since fifth grade, mostly wearing it up in pony tails and buns. I was convinced my face structure and body wouldn’t look good with shorter hair.

    A couple of weeks ago, I said ‘fuck it’ and got it cut to just past my chin, shorter in front, choppy style. And y’all, I look HOT. I just swagger around making eyes at the ladies so they KNOW I’m gay. Which is what it’s really all about, right? Long hair or short, faux-hawk or dreadlocks, curly or straight, it’s how you feel in your ‘do that matters!

  60. i cut my hair a couple years ago, short, to a pixie. certainly has helped with my queer visibility and okcupid inbox. but i don’t have short hair to look gayer… short hair brings out the face and eyes and lips, oh my! so much more to see! i tend to be attracted to people with shorter hair, and it’s mostly for that reason. but ya know, if you think you look hot, regardless of the length, chances are you do.

  61. Ahhh! This article is so perfect right now.
    I just got my hair cut on Tuesday after growing it out for three years! I must admit, my main reason for doing it was because I am comfortable with my gayness now.

    And I kinda like pulling off the La Roux look I have going at the moment…

    • Oh god. I want hair like yours so badly. Epic epic epic.
      I am so not brave enough. I am working my way up to it.

      Yes, definitely pulling it off.
      Also, Aussie???

      • Thanks :D

        I didn’t think I was brave enough either, actually, but I’m so much more comfortable with short hair.
        I’m not an Aussie, actually… but my name is Sydney.

  62. I have big dark ringlets and I always hated them, but fortunately realized that this is an awesome, powerful thing to have. So! I have discovered that I can pin it in a way that is asymmetrical and pretty effing gay–at least, plenty of cute girls have noticed and that works for me–and also just an eentsy bit sense and sensibility. Just a little. I can put on a bowler hat and feel comfortably masculine. Nothing too frilly.

    But the secret to all of this is really bobby pins. That’s the whole point. If you’re not sure you want to cut your hair, if you want a little temporary asymmetry, they work. Oh! Also, when she’s in the mood, one of my friends gets half her head braided on the side so it looks undercut. It’s effing hot, the braids are totally pony show, in a good way.

  63. I frequently consider returning to my Alternative Lifestyle Haircut, because I’m tired of everyone thinking I’m the straight friend. I got recognized as a lesbian a lot more often with my fauxhawk of a few years ago than I do now with a shoulder-length bob.
    But I like to wear my hair in ballerina buns, and it’s fun to braid it, so I leave it long and hope that eventually more people will notice what a raging mo I am.

  64. I keep my hair at least past the bottom of my shoulders for a couple reasons. I had a series of traumatic short cuts (badly done) when I was little because I hated showers and wanted to take baths and it was too hard for my mom to wash long hair. As soon as I was old enough I started growing it out and it was super long when I was in high school. I like it because it’s been getting curlier the older I get, and I don’t blow-dry or straighten so it has to be a cut that requires no work. Between the hair and my penchant for dresses, I pass for straight, which is occasionally fun, sometimes useful (trips to very conservative countries), and mostly annoying in terms of getting a date. It’s who I am, though, and I think of it as my own little contribution to breaking stereotypes about lesbianism.

    I’m going to the hairdresser here in France for the first time next week, though, and I’m thinking of cutting it above the shoulders for the first time in years, though, so we’ll see.

  65. I was always fairly shy, especially after some shit popped up in middle school and my friends and I had an implicit fallout. After I cut my hair in the very beginning of 9th grade, using the reason of sports and saying that it got in the way too much, I just kept telling myself that if people don’t take how I look seriously, then they have to take ME and my personality and what I say seriously instead. I was able to let go of a lot of my inhibitions. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, though I have to agree that it was really strange when I was called “sir.”

    My hair is shoulder-length right now, but only to help me reach my goal. I told myself I can’t cut it until graduation, even though I have no fear of NOT graduating.

  66. 1. I’m really super jealous of the women I know who rock ALHs, like my classmate from last year who when she showed up on the first Monday I was like “Hm, I think…” and then she mentioned Tegan & Sara and confirmed for me. I’m kind of jealous of that because who likes coming out? No-one. Who likes feeling like they might be benefiting from straight privilege when they show up at job interviews with long blondish hair in a cute dress and a little make-up? No-one.

    2. But I can never have an ALH because I hate HATE blowdrying and straightening. My hair is not curly at all, it is straight with like lame waves in it which mean that every time I get a cut above my shoulders, the cutter is all like “So to style this you blowdry and straighten and then you get your product of this kind and do this, and then you get the other kind and do this,” and generally when I try it for parties it looks pretty OK but oh my god. EFFORT.

    3. So after my most recent try at a less fucking dull haircut, I am going back to the world’s straightest hairdo: long, probably with blonde highlights, slightly shaped around my face. Someone on the previous page I think explicitly described this look as a straight way to do hair. SIGH. I’ve done my hair this way since I was 15, I’m a little bored of it, but not bored enough that I’m going to buy a straightener/learn to use it, I guess.

  67. I’ve had short hair since I was in high school, before I even realized I was queer. I occasionally toy with the idea of growing it out, but the fact is that I am actually a hugely lazy person and if I did, it would just be in a ponytail all the time and that’s no fun. Plus I dye my hair a lot, and short hair is so much more convenient in that regard.

    As for passing, I feel like I can, because short hair cuts are kind of fashionable these days, and mine’s not very “alternative”.

    Also I look hella fucking cute with short hair, not even gonna lie.

  68. I’d just like to point out the added complication for people who are flagging another subculture as well as the homosexy.

    I’ve got really curly hair. Reaaaally curly. If I comb out the ringlets/don’t wash it for a few days I basically get a jewfro.

    I’m actually finally kind of happy with my hair at the moment for the first time in forever. It’s just about shoulder length, kind of a mix of ringlets and dreadlocks, and it covers half my face. I think this makes it sound more ridiculous than it is.

    I’m not sure I want all dreads but I don’t know if it’s possibly to maintain this inbetween thing. I think when it gets more dreadlocky I’m probably going to shave half of it off (I would say undercut, but it’s just going to be a friend and some clippers, so undercut sounds a bit fancy…). But yeah, because I’m kind of flagging as a crusty punk kid as well, whatever I do is never really going to be considered neccessarily dykey. Because you get lots of girls with alternative lifestyle haircuts and boyfriends in this scene…we’re as bad as hipsters.

  69. I’ll never get over the “how much do I want to say about myself through my haircut” crisis. So I went halfsies: Short on one side long on the other (aka homo-hair). I pondered over it sooo much and the question of passing that I indulgently wrote a paper about it and came across this wee book wedged in a corner @ the concordia library: “Levis and Lipstick”. Gay ladies have been struggling with this hair-crisis for decades.

  70. My hair length has a sort of pattern about it:
    Ages 1 to 8: Short.
    [Because I whined whenever it was long, it easier for my mother to keep getting it cut short]
    Ages 9 to 16: Long
    [To avoid getting picked on at school. Bastards.]
    Ages 17 to 26: Short.
    [I came out of the closet at 17, and got my hair cut as short as it would go.]
    Age 27 till now (29): Long.
    I can’t be arsed making time for hair products and hair cuts.

  71. Ah I’m sooo glad this was posted! I used to have super short fauxhawk hair and I looooved it, but I missed having it long so I grew it back out. Now, I want it short again but a ton of my friends are strongly against it, especially my ex gf! I’m like dude. What the freakin frack. Whyyyy is it so important to you whether my hair is long or short? Now she’s starting to get to me! AH wavy long red hair or short awesomeness?!

    I’m pretty sure I’m cutting it. :D

    • Haha do it just to spite your ex gf. Be like Bitch Please, I can do anything with my hair and you can’t do anythin about it!

  72. I like seeing this huge deluge of comments, knowing I’m not the only lesbian with hair-related issues. I am not very happy with my current routine of wearing my hair up and pulled back everyday, but I am torn what to do, as mentioned in my previous comments on this article. Sigh. The plight of lesbianism. Certainly a very interesting topic.

  73. Meanwhile I had short hair from age 13 to 19 and then grew it out then chopped it off again at 21 and now it’s long again and i genuinely think I look better with long hair and like it but I feel like when I’m at gay stuff people are like “ew she must be so boring/stupid/dumb femme/probably straight/not really gay/not interesting/doesn’t get it/is probably a slutty bisexual/is conservative” or something because i don’t have short hair anymore. And my girlfriend has to sigh and roll her eyes and reassure me that people don’t hate femme chicks and nobody thinks I am st00pid because I have purty hair and that nobody thinks she is the Superior Queer Who Stole Me From A Boyfriend or Something because she looks hella gay and I look hella not and that also there are plenty of homos (her included) who think it is really hot for a girl to look really femme and have long hair and schmexy underwear on and be super sassy and have hella attitude and a radical homosexual agenda. You know. So I can deal. Sort of.

    But in a way that was why i kept my hair short for so long — before I was totally comfortable making jokes about being a dyke and hitting on girls or whatever, I REALLY WANTED TO LOOK LIKE A LESBIAN hoping that other people would JUST PICK UP ON IT without having to go through the stress of having to out myself constantly and that maybe people would just GET IT and I wouldn’t have to worry about being kind of a babydyke and that I wouldn’t ever have to defend my queerness because I’d dated men before because like short hair and gay clothes obviously would make up for a not-gold-star-history. I also used to dress a lot more tomboyish/gay, and now I dress like, uh, a really femme girl who works in high fashion in NYC, which I love and have tons and tons of fun with but still feel bad for. Less men hit on me when I have short hair, more girls talk to me, less men harass me, and it’s like my queerness is more easily taken for granted because I’m more queer-normative within the community, but when I have long hair I feel guilty for being gender-normative and conforming to female expectations or like I’m taking the easy way out by passing for straight even though i LIKE looking this way and don’t have any sort of desire to “look straight.” I stress about this way too much. But now that I’m older and a little more comfortable with a.) dealing with the crap that comes with looking how a pretty girl “should” look and b.) verbally outing myself 47 times a day and defending it to people who question it or are morons about it, I’m cool with keeping my hair longer… but seriously, I still feel guilty and weird about it all the time.

  74. i see a theme here of lovely gay ladies struggling to make their wishes followed by their hairdresser….try the barbershop..especially if there are women working might have more luck…and if youre in portsmouth uk then feel free to pop into my barbershop…`The Barber Shop’ gay friendly and absolutely no trying to talk you out of your rocking `do’

  75. When I was I kid, I wanted long hair so very much. I’ve basically had long hair with a centre parting for 19 years. Then last week, I realized how boring and straight looking my hair was, so I got my courage up and got a Really Short Haircut.
    And I freakin’ love it! I love how easy it is to deal with, I love the way it looks, and I actually really love it when people stare at me or double take when they see me because they’re trying to work out if I’m a boy or a girl.
    I feel much more confidant and awesome now, and I’m no longer shy about makin’ eyes at ladies!

  76. I have been called a boy or “sir” since I was 8 years old. I have always had mannish features, this I accept. However I sincerely doubt that many men have TRIPLE D TITS. I used to get called sir even when I had long hair. My own father used to mistake me for my brother. Again I say, TITS! Peopel are just oblivious and I have come to accept this. I used to just let it slide, but now everytime someone calls me sir, i loudly proclaim that I am a female, thankyouverymuch!

  77. This article came around at the right time for me as I’m going through MAJOR hair dilemas. I want it short but I have a super round face and whats worse my white with a pink tinge hair has to go due to work regulations so when I change my hair it’s going for the big change and I’m super scared. In a way I do want short hair to “pass”, I want to be a recognised part of the community instead of having to tell people. I wanna let my hair cut do all the hard work :)

  78. I’ve gone through this every few years since 11th grade. When I have long hair, I have to argue with people to convince them that I truly do like ladies. I get annoyed, cut my hair off, and feel cute for a while. Then I get bored, get tired of doing my hair every day (seriously people, short hair is WORK), get engaged, get a job, and decide that I need to grow my hair out. Rinse and repeat.

    My lady has short hair. It’s adorable, and suits her. However, she gets what she calls “sir-ma’am”ed on a fairly regular basis. The short hair=male connection is so strong that people jump right to “male” before they even notice the D cups.

  79. I cut my hair at 17 and got grounded by my awesomely conservative Christian parents. Why did I do it? Because I wanted to scream gay at my Christian school who told me I wasn’t allowed to talk about being gay without being expelled. I had it short for 3 or so years and then grew it out because I started dating a bunch of ladies (not at the same time) who didn’t want to publicly hangout with me because of my obvious homoness. I grew it out and it made me “normal”. I fit in better with my college sports team, I won a bunch of awards that I honestly believe I wouldn’t have been given if I still had the super homo fauxhawk and my parents got over me being gay. So what did I do a week after my senior sports season ended? I went out and chopped my hair off again. The parents were livid and refused to put me in the christmas card and my girlfriend at the time said I no longer resembled the girl she thought I was. Oh well, I love it! I look like a weird gender confused person with long hair regardless of what clothes I wear. It’s just silliness.

    Reading this story and these comments is both inspiring and sad. There is so much wrapped up in hair that it has become something we have to talk about in this way. I think I likely subconsciously cut my hair again to be more gay. But I only had let it grow to be more normal. So which of these is the correct personal response to this insane cultural issue? Is there a correct answer? Do what you want when you want? I just want to have short hair today and maybe long hair tomorrow and then again next Thursday night. Can someone invest miracle hair already? :)

  80. I shaved my head about 2 years back, when I was in grade 11. I did it because I was afraid to, and I didn’t like that my hair was so important to me.

    Now I have long hair again, and while it feels much more “me”, I miss the way the world treated me when I had none.

  81. This year, I went through a minor identity crisis and when that happens, I often react by doing something with my hair. It’s my way of letting the world know that I’ve changed my way of looking at it. So I cut my hair off into this pixie thing.

    At first, I got the “cute haircut!” which quickly turned into “so, how’s it going dyke?” I started wearing more androgenous clothing just to make people wonder, to give them something to talk about in this Midwestern college town.

    I think all that matters is what type of haircut makes you feel most like yourself. Like when you walk out of the house in the morning, you feel like you own your hair.

  82. I actually cut my hair very, very short long before I’d even come to the realization that I was gay. I grew it out recently and hated it, so I cut it all off again. I never had anyone ask me if I was a lesbian when my hair was short, only when it was long. So weird.

  83. Evidence I need an alternative-lifestyle haircut: wore flannel AND combat boots to the bar tonight, and still got groped by an unwelcome male. COMON’!!

  84. My hair hasn’t been shorter than shoulder length since I was 6 and I like it that way. I consider myself pretty femme, but having long hair has never made me worried about not looking gay enough- I think I “read” a bit gay. I’m not sure how much of that is compensation for the “yes I have longish hair and enjoy getting all dressed up including heels and/or skirts but trust me my hair is the only straight thing about me no seriously look at how I walk straight girls do not walk like this” but yeah. I had to get dressed up for something last night and my best friend used the term “power lesbian” to describe what I was wearing so I guess I’m doing something right.

  85. Geez, I sometimes seriously think ya’ll over there at Autostraddle have got some sort of mind reading device and are actively channelling my thoughts (oh yes, I am really that paranoid/narcissistic).

    *starts playing the violin* I’ve been struggling with haircut issues since forever. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t have time to fuss with my long curly hair so they had it cut short. Boy short. I grew to hate it so at 12, I decided I wanted to ‘look like a girl’. My big mistake was that NO ONE knew how to deal with my mixed race hair and for ages I sported a haircut that looked like the bastard love child of an umbrella and a mushroom cloud. I was bullied because of it and spent most of my teen years hating my hair and keeping it hidden in a pony tail or a bun. Eventually I found someone who knew how to cut curly hair. I took the plunge and made him cut it to chin-length (it was down to my waist at that point). That man was my saviour, and since then I’ve managed to know how to find good professionals, but I still get PTSD style flashbacks every time I walk into the hairdresser.

    Fast forward to now, and things come full circle. I want to cut it short, really short, for practical reasons. I ride a motorcycle daily with a full face helmet, and my curls get crushed to within an inch of their life. It’s ruining my hair, and putting it up in a pony tail does not help. However, I don’t want to lose what little I have left of my femininity. Despite the motorcycle, the fact I don’t wear make up most days and dress casually a lot of the time, I still ‘feel’ feminine, and my hair is one of the few things I have left that ties me to that. But at the same time, cutting my hair short would make me feel a whole lot more free of the fuss and hassle I deal with now.

    Practically everyone that knows me knows I’m queer, I don’t need to hide anything, but I don’t want them to think I just got a short haircut because I need to affirm/show off my queerness, which wouldn’t be the case. I’m also really scared of getting a bad haircut, and it doesn’t help that a lot of my friends and family aren’t too keen on the idea :(

    I would love a cute short curly hairstyle, but so many things are scaring me out of taking the plunge :(

  86. I’ve never wanted to have a short hair cut, precisely because I get sired even with long hair. Yes, with pony tails, hair in a bun you name it, I have been sired.
    Women’s clothes (slightly masculine though) and long hair, and I have been sired.
    So, can you imagine if I had short short hair?. I id as a woman whose slightly masculine, but completely uninterested in passing. So short short hair is out for me.

  87. Shit yes. In high school I had long hair and was always petrified to look too unfeminine–if I wore an oversized shirt then I’d match it with quirky jewelry and throw on some eyeliner, etc. Then I got to my first semester in college and started slipping a little more every month; in September I acknowledged my pan status once and for all, October I fell in love with some cargo pants from the free store that I wouldn’t have dared to touch in August, and by November I stopped giving a shit about defining my gender expression and shaved the left side of my head. Then in January I cut it chin-length, the shortest it’s been since I was eight or nine. My hair is not how I identify myself, but it’s been an important symbolic aspect of my personal growth and changing attitudes regarding sexuality and gender.

  88. I’ve always had long-ish hair (I’m black and it’s somewhat relaxed and curly and think). I prefer to wear my hair up in a bun (loves the messy high bun!)As a high femme, I’ve often felt that I need to show the world that I was queer, but I didn’t want to do an undercut/shave part of it like other femmes are doing in Montréal.

    My hairdresser was trying to get me to cut my hair in a bob on Friday and I explained to him that I need to be able to tie my hair for the days where I don’t feel like doing anything with it. Later, he trimmed as he always does and trimmed a lot!!! Now, I have shorter hair than I’ve ever had, shoulder-length and I think I may go get an alternative cut.

    Sometimes, other people choose for you is my hair lesson!

  89. So here´s the story with my hair:
    I used to have long, flowing hair, real pretty. After much fighting with my mom during my pre-teen years, I finally managed to convince her to stop having it cut short. (she had 3 daughters and was a bit lazy, or didn´t really have fun doing braids and pony tails, so she just had us all in the same short haircut.)

    After moving out of my parents and nearly starving, I decided to cut it short. No middle ground. It went from reaching my waist to an awesome asimetrical bob. It was a little weird at first, but eventually it felt great and liberating. Plus I was saving tons of money on shampoo and all that stuff.

    Now here´s the thing: I didn´t really have the identity question regarding my hair back then, mainly because I just recently had my first relationship with a girl. So im a sort of baby dyke, only I´m in my mid 20´s. I will say that the way I´ve felt about my hair has varied with the changes in my life; and that at a dificult time, it made me feel empowered to go around walking proudly with nearly no hair.

    I just have to say, though, that as I become more and more aware of the girls around me, i can´t help but to stare at girls with short, bold haircuts. And it makes me want to keep on chopping mine off!

  90. My hair is rather long. I do feel like its a security blanket, because its never been shorter than my collar bone. Over the summer i cut it short again, and i realized how much i hated it. I love my long hair, i just don’t love how i get no female attention. I guess im just too feminine looking to be thought of as a lesbian, which is kind of disappointing.

    • I have found a solution (for real though!)

      I really miss my long hair, but I don’t miss the complete femme invisibility I once had. Of course people knew in places where I had come out, but not just around. Solution: pink triangle necklace.

      Necklaces aren’t usually my style, but it’s a way to let queer girls you play for their team without throwing in over-obvious rainbows (though I do love them) or having to change your look to become more masculine.

  91. I shaved my hair a couple of months ago and I got called “ma’am” more. I thought I’d look more like a “sir” cos I’m called “sir” sometimes with about 1.5-2 inches of spiky messy textured hair.

    I don’t like being called sir at all. But I also don’t have any desire to grow my hair just to pass as a ma’am.

    Another hair frustration of mine is that whenever I’d see my oldest sister, she’d always always say something about my hair being too short. For about 3 years now, everytime we see each other, she never fails to say that. It gets shorter or a little longer but still not touching my ears or nape. I guess she’s afraid (or worse, ashamed) I’m really queer. Well, I am and it’s just a matter of time till she finds out (but i’m not telling yet). :)

  92. I just reread this again in the course of trying to find everything on AS that discusses haircuts, because I really, really need a haircut.

    My hair is incredibly, absurdly thick and frizzy. And I repeatedly psyche myself out (or let my sister psyche me out) of getting my hair cut. All I really want is a pixie cut like Emma Watson…but my hair gets curly and weird when it’s short, so I’m afraid that won’t work.

    And I live in San Francisco! And can’t figure out where the hell to get my hair cut! (I swear, sometimes it seems like I am the most shy person at the worst times, ever.)

  93. I had hair down to my ass my whole life until I donated it to locks of love and soon thereafter shaved my head. Needless to say I can identify with the need to get rid of hair and run amuck with gender-bending choas. So if I’m not trans and I’m not butch, what am I??? However, after 10 years of “sir” and dealing with what that means to me, I just today had an epiphany. I like me. I like my short hair and boy’s clothes. And I like being a woman. Aha! Thank you for sharing this article and thank you autostraddle for being awesome!


  95. I relate SO much! My hair is in awkward shaggy dog phase right now.
    It was super girly long until college. I got dreads, and loved them so much. It was so me and it was great. But I work with little kids in a small town in the midwest, so the dreads were too radical and they needed to go. Now I have short hair. Everyone tells me that they love how it looks on me. But I’m not sold. I don’t feel like myself, yet. Long hair was pretty, but so so so feminine. I already have a feminine enough body (lots of boobs), so I’m always obviously a girl. I like that people can tell I’m gay (or at least have a clue) with short hair. And it’s easy. But I don’t think that it’s my face on top of that head. (Plus my girlfriend doesn’t like it.)
    But what if it’s just that I want to look gay so I want short hair? Or that I want people to know gay girls can be feminine so I want long hair? What if growing it out makes it look ugly? And, finally, why does my hair grow so fast that after a month it’s already shaggy dog?

  96. I’m rocking asymmetric bangs with long hair. It’s a nice nod to the Alternative Lifestyle Haircuts; most of my previous short haircuts involved funky banks and asymmetry and I missed that when I grew my hair out after 8 years of short.

    It’s funny–when I had babydyke short hair, I assumed that no one could read me as gay. I wasn’t sure how to be out, didn’t know many queer folks. I also continued to be hit on by men in public/at work/etc. I look back now and think “I looked so gay, how did I think otherwise?”

    With long hair now, I feel more confident these days. I even *think* that I read more queer than I did with short hair; it has a lot to do with my comfort level with my identity.

  97. I really want to cut my hair short, in October I went to London Comic Con as the Eleventh Doctor and got my fringe cut in a way that looked all floppy like Matt Smith’s when it was straightened, and just kept the rest tied in a bun.
    I have really thick, curly/wavy/frizzy hair and when I dry it naturally the fringe bit around my face goes really wildly curly and cute, normally I just tie most of it back in a messy bun.
    But the short front bit around my face is really cute and I’m dying to just have it all that length in a kind of mop of curls type thing, but my hair is so thick if I cut it short it’ll probably look like a mushroom or puff out hugely in an unattractive way and I’ll have to use loads of products. But on the other hand, I might be able to straighten it more easily because there’ll be less of it.

  98. Damn! As someone in the midst of queer hair crisis its nice to know Im not alone. Thanks for the article and everyone else for sharing.

    I had super short hair for a decade and spent the last 2 years growing it out to shoulder length. Enter the identity crisis of a newly out, gender queer 30 something and I suddenly feel like lobbing off my red locks to “fit in”. Ironic, since I spent so much time trying to “fit in” by trying to be straight! Taking a few moments to chill out Ive been experimenting with up dos for those times when Im feeling more “he” and keeping it long for those times Im feeling more “she.” Its amazing how hair has such an impact on what aspects of my personality are present. Im glad Ive had both long and short hair so I know how both look on me and the pros and cons. Right now Im leaving it long, it just looks better on me than short hair. Not to mention letting down an updo into a cascade of rouge is pretty damn hot ;)

  99. I am pansexual with a preference for ladies. After my first love left me, I needed a change. I had adored her short hair, as it had looked adorable and slightly rebellious. Since I’m very involved in the QSA at my school (and am president this year,) I had long hair and a feminine style and could still date her. Still, after her, I just didn’t want to be that mopey little girl that I was because of her. I wanted to be new.

    I had always wondered what I would look like with a pixie cut, so I chopped it off. With kitchen scissors, because my mother had always called my hair my best physical feature, and I knew my family wouldn’t be completely supportive. I learned later that my ex wasn’t attracted to me because I wasn’t butch like she wanted. But she could have just told me. I wouldn’t have wasted my time on her.

    A lot of things have happened this year. For a few months, I felt without anchors. My closest friends had graduated, my dog had died, my parents and I were fighting more than usual, and my hair was gone.

    It’s good to know that my hair doesn’t define me. My dad said right afterwards that if I ever liked a man, he wouldn’t reciprocate based on my hair (my dad doesn’t understand short-haired girls.)

    I was really surprised that the person who I fell in love with, a friend I never would have expected, is a man.

    Your hair doesn’t define you. I do miss its comfort, and how it connected me to my past as a flower child and my friends (most of whom are feminine, straight girls.) And I want it back. But it isn’t me. Because, as Walt Whitman, would say,
    I contain multitudes.

    It was never a question of picking men over women, but Nick over Chelsea, because nobody else has ever cared less about my hair, and more about me.

    And that feels good.

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