My son Ravey is 4 and other than a few small trims has never had a haircut.
He has beautiful thick hair that curls at the ends and he loves it.
Ravey will always opt to have his hair out, even though it may get in his eyes or in the way when he is playing.
We adore his hair but always give him the option by regularly asking him if he would like it short like his friends. He always says no, defending his wish to keep it as it is. His daddy has long hair and he wants long hair too.
There may come a time when he changes his mind, be it by himself or due to the comments of others, but ultimately if he wants long hair that’s cool. To me it’s not a thing and is so much more common now.
What I have found interesting about having a son with long hair is the responses of others.
For most people long hair means you are a girl and it’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what clothes you wear, you will still get mistaken for a girl.
Anyone with a son with long hair will likely recognise this scenario. You’re in the park, pushing your kid on the swing. Another parent or grandparent smiles at you. They ask “how old is she?”. You subtly respond “oh he’s 2”. The other parent says to their child “oh that little girl is the same age as you”. You then speak to your child using their name in hope of them picking up on their male name. This process is wasted on the other adult who doesn’t take the hint. You eventually are left with 2 options;
- Smile and leave the situation with the other person not realising they made a mistake and your child hearing and seeing you not correct it OR
- do the whole “oh he is a boy. Not a girl”, which is almost certainly always reacted to by either the other adults dismay and disbelief accompanied by odd look or the awkwardness of them realising they made a mistake.
The process of correction always makes you feel a bit of a dick too. As though asserting your childs actual sex makes you the odd one, not the person making sweeping generalisations about gender norms.
Because for some reason we are in a society where boys with long hair or girls with short hair is the weird and abnormal thing, not the obsession with assigning gender norms and characteristics to our children.
Of course its difficult to tell the sex of a child sometimes and for us this is hard because we are so used to a world where gender is attached to all attributes. Good boy/girl, everything is prefixed with he/she, it’s so ingrained into our narrative. It’s to be expected that occasionally people may make a mistake.
Boys having long hair is far more common now and generally it’s more accepted, however there are still disparities around how we manage and respond to long hair in boys and girls.
Still in some schools boys are asked to not have long hair and there is an expectation that boys should have their hair tied up where a girl may not.
My own mother, although accepting of my sons long hair, when she has the opportunity to, will tie it up. If he stays with her he will always return hair slicked back into a tight and perfectly neat little bun. As though to hide its length away.
With starting school we were asked by several people if we would be cutting Ravey’s hair for school.
This is interesting because it implies that in order to be school ready your hair should be short as though long hair is somehow untidy if on a boy.
A girl on the other hand would be praised and admired for her long locks. And schools are part of this ideal. Many schools have been known to even recently send children home or instruct their hair be changed as it was deemed not appropriate.
The question for me is how does my sons hair have absolutely anything to do with his attendance at school? Where is there even a vague connection between the two? And why is hair such a big deal for a boy and not a girl?
As a young boy growing up, how must it be to be mistaken and called the wrong sex? How do you understand it? By the age of 4 Ravey is very confident in telling people that he is, in fact, a boy, but to have to constantly do that must have an impact.
In the 4 weeks since starting school Ravey has spoken countless times of children calling him a girl and saying they don’t want to play with him and even that they don’t like him because he has long hair. This is heart breaking to hear but Ravey remains insistent that he wants to keep his hair long. He adores his hair and so do we!
We need to move towards both girls and boys not feeling they have to conform to gender stereotypes and dress or look a certain way. Long hair and bright colours belong to everyone.