“So… what’s up with the haircut?”

haircut4.jpgI get this question a lot. It’s the “hipper” way of asking, “Why do you have your hair like that?” (which I also get a lot), and the masked way of saying, “Your hair confuses me and makes me uncomfortable. Explain yourself.

I don’t mind talking about my hair. I do mind having to respond to spoken judgment from strangers. Preferred variations of this conversations starter include, “That haircut looks easy to take care of,” “I bet your head is cold,” or (my personal favorite), “I love your hair!

The other really common one I get is, “You have a really nicely shaped head. I could never have that haircut because my head is too lumpy and dented.” Don’t laugh–this is serious! I get this more often than any other comment, hands down, even from strangers passing me on the street. Sometimes it’s sounds generous and sometimes it sounds like they’re uncomfortably grasping for something to say. Completely depends on the tone of voice.

But back to “So… what’s up with the haircut?” I’ve accumulated quite a few answers to this question over my last two years of relative baldness, and I’d like to share a few of them with you. Most of these are true:

“It’s a great conversation piece.”

“I don’t like hair.”

“I was really angry one day while giving myself a haircut, and I accidentally cut too close to the scalp — so the only way to even it out was to shave it. I wasn’t working in an office at the time, so I figured it didn’t matter much. But then I got so many compliments on it that I just had to keep it.” [note: this is actually how it all started.]

“The shorter my hair is, the more free I feel.”

[dumb look] “What do you mean?”

“It helps people remember me.”

“I like to spend my time and money on things that matter more to me than my hair.”

“Rubbing it brings me good luck.”

“I look terrible with hair.”

“I got tired of people hitting on me.” [note: the haircut does not actually fix this problem]

“It’s a social experiment. I like to see which kinds of people feel the need to comment on it.”

“Ooh, I love this game! I’m a militant nazi skinhead man-hating lesbian buddhist monk with cancer! Now you tell me about your haircut!”

“It shows people I have nothing to hide.”

“Oh I’m from San Francisco.”

“It changes the assumptions people make about me as a consultant in the tech industry. I’m more likely to be seen as brazen and cutting-edge and less likely to be talked down to as a young woman.”

“Oh, thank you for noticing! I paid $300 to have this done by a famous hairdresser in LA. Do you like it?”

“It’s a great haircut. I’d been listening to men brag about it for years. They were absolutely right.”

“Does it make you uncomfortable?”

“Wigs are a hassle.”

“It’s part of my personal brand.”

“I like it.”

Save

Tags: , ,

If you like this post and would like to receive updates from this blog, please subscribe to the feed. Subscribe via RSS

29 Responses to ““So… what’s up with the haircut?””

  1. jennaluna Says:

    this post is awesome….loving:

    “Ooh, I love this game! I’m a militant nazi skinhead man-hating lesbian buddhist monk with cancer! Now you tell me about your haircut!”

    and

    “I’m from San Francisco.”

    people just get soooo weirded out by things, don’t they? uughhh

  2. Elisa Camahort Says:

    My favorite, because it’s fun:
    “It’s a social experiment. I like to see which kinds of people feel the need to comment on it.”

    My favorite because it’s probably true:
    “It changes the assumptions people make about me as a consultant in the tech industry. I’m more likely to be seen as brazen and cutting-edge and less likely to be talked down to as a young woman.”

  3. sarah Says:

    Yes, yes, and yes. Thank you guys!

  4. Phoenix Says:

    “The other really common one I get is, “You have a really nicely shaped head. I could never have that haircut because my head is too lumpy and dented.” Don’t laugh–this is serious! I get this more often than any other comment, hands down, even from strangers passing me on the street.”

    I concur. Strange, that.

  5. Maria Niles Says:

    “It’s part of my personal brand.”

    It is, indeed. And a brilliant personal brand at that.

    I think you need this shirt http://tinyurl.com/3x7dgs

  6. sarah Says:

    Phoenix — glad I’m not the only one who gets that. :)

    Maria — thank you! Although I usually like it when people rub my head (if they’re respectful about it). So maybe my shirt should say, “Please ask before touching my hair.”

  7. Thomas Says:

    “Your [blank] confuses me and makes me uncomfortable. Explain yourself” That seems so spot on for what people are really trying to say way too much of the time.

  8. contentious.com - links for 2008-01-05 Says:

    […] Dopp Juice » Blog Archive » “So… what’s up with the haircut?” Really fun, insightful commentary on the nuances of conversation. (tags: conversation social+dynamics human+nature) […]

  9. Elke Sisco Says:

    I mused for a while that I would shave my head so that my brain would get more oxygen and I’d become smarter.
    Also, I’d be closer to God/be able to meditate better because the hair does not get in the way. Works for the Dalai Lama, non? ;-)

  10. Nancy Says:

    You looked alot like this when you were born.

    Love, Mom

  11. Nancy Says:

    Particularly, the second picture! ;-)

    Oh, if only I had a scanner!

    Love,
    Mom again….

  12. Emma McCreary Says:

    Dude, I am totally one of those people who sadly relates their lumpy head problem. Seriously, I have wanted to shave my head before but I have a nontrivial lump and a very large mole. I’m not kidding! It’s a real issue! (Of course, I’m also one of those people who is willing to spend both my time and my money on my hair…)

    But I am chagrined to find out I am so banal in my shaved-head-conversation. I’ll have to think of a better response next time I want to appreciate someone’s buzz-cut.

    And I, as well, am totally in awe of your personal brand including said lack of hair. =)

  13. Gretchen Says:

    As someone who’s had a shaved head for many years I have had all of these experiences as well. My sense is that what people really mean is, “Are you gay?” or “Why do you have to throw it in my face that you are different (and by different they usually mean…gay)?”

    One person I talked to said she didn’t go bald because she was a pinhead and she did, indeed, upon closer inspection, have a really small skull.

    I also work in the tech industry and I would say the shaved head makes me more memorable for sure but it also makes some people uncomfortable so I wouldn’t say it is a net benefit in the workplace. But it isn’t nearly the negative it can be in other urban centers that are more conservative.

  14. sarah Says:

    Thanks for weighing in, Gretchen! I appreciate your perspective.

  15. Muzzin Jim Says:

    Sarah, I don’t know if you noticed, but I had to get off the curly girl bandwagon. No time for hair care with the kiddos. Gotta admit though, without the hair, the need to bathe daily also goes way down. I think there are several million (billion?) bacteria in my arm pits that are thankful for my hair clipper set. Can bacteria feel thanks?

    I was at a Rosh Hashanah party shortly after I removed the curly locks, and guy from the shul told me I looked very “Deep River” (my town), that is to say, “mod,” in his terminology.

  16. sarah Says:

    Muzzin Jim! I failed to take your lead and now you’re taking mine! oh, the tangled webs we weave…

    Hope the chilluns are treatin’ ya nicely. I have a vague sense that I’m never going to see you again. We should fix that.

  17. Erica Says:

    This is an amazing post. Go ‘head on wit yo bad self, girl! *snap*snap*

  18. Monique Says:

    Oh, how true and you’ve nailed each one perfectly!

    Its mostly they think I have cancer??!! or I’ve only had one ask me if I’m a practicing buddhist (which I wouldn’t mind). I actually had one fella today shave my head for me, we shaved each other’s head!! It was a very kool experience.

    Love your site, I’m glad you invited me to check it out!

    Your a beautiful gal Sarah!

    (I love this one: “Oh I’m from San Francisco.”)

    Kudos girl!

  19. Don Says:

    Let me just say, I really enjoy your blog. This one response is my favorite:

    [dumb look] “What do you mean?”

    Peace.

  20. The Bean Says:

    Personally, I just think it means you have balls. Vive la Woman Balls! I’ve got ’em too. They’re fun.

  21. MsNice Says:

    Has anybody asked you if they can touch it, because It’s what springs to my mind when I see your picture.
    Hi from Spain

  22. chinese new year firework Says:

    Everytime i go here im excitedThank You Very Much For Showing This Info

  23. hjohnson919 Says:

    As you probably know my hair is starting to grow back after the chemo. It is so interesting. The white hair is growing faster than the dark hair so I've gotten this antique whitewash effect. No one will ever be able to reproduce it since you'd have to cut each dark hair without cutting the white ones around it. Even so I can't wait to have my hair a normal length again. For one thing, the white and dark hair aren't well integrated so there are patches that all all one color and that displeases me. But also I think wanting it back has more to do with why it was gone. Cutting your own hair on purpose is a completely different dynamic.

  24. Scintillectual Says:

    I had my head shaved yesterday. I blogged about it today. Mine wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision until my hairdresser fried my head trying to lighten the jet black store-bought color I’ve been wearing for months. I’ve gotten a lot of different, and rather amusing, reactions. The one I get most? Staring intently at my head while trying to talk to me about anything BUT the fact that I now have a buzz cut in blonde and silver. Oh well, that and the little old lady at church who told me where to get the best wigs.

  25. Zack Says:

    I shaved my head in October, and I got the thing about head shape a bunch, too. It’s kind of weird.

  26. Ray Says:

    I love how it looks! I buzzed my head a couple months ago and I agree on the feeling of freedom :)

  27. Amanda Says:

    Once upon a time, I had an experience that left me feeling objectified. A long, painful story that isn’t that interesting, really, but I really wanted to be alone and for some reason I decided that shaving my long blond hair off was the solution. I’d had short hair before but I’d never just gone whole hog and shaved it off. I *loved* it. I got far, far, far less attention from men on the street (and the subway, nearby scaffolding, in the grocery store …) I didn’t realize how much I wanted to stop being approachable and “pretty,” but I rode that wave for almost a year, during which time I took a trip to South East Asia where my buzz cut was indeed a conversation piece and a total kid magnet. Which was fine. I was traveling alone and didn’t really mind kids coming over to tell me I looked like a Buddha and petting me on the head. I also got fine treatment whenever I announced myself as a vegetarian–looking back I suspect plenty of people saw me as an ascetic if not an outright nun.

    Eventually I got bored (of shaving, mostly) and gave back the borrowed clippers.

    I have no idea why I’m telling you this story but I am. So there.

  28. sarah Says:

    @Amanda: I love it. Thank you.

  29. Spectral Says:

    The other really common one I get is, “You have a really nicely shaped head. I could never have that haircut because my head is too lumpy and dented.” Don’t laugh–this is serious! I get this more often than any other comment, hands down, even from strangers passing me on the street.

    Having shaved one side of my head once, this would definitely be one of my (unvolunteered) reactions if I saw you on the street!