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“I Am A Woman, But I Love Looking Like A Boy Sometimes”

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By Veda Nadendla:

I recently got a haircut, and apparently I now look like a boy. But hey! What does looking like a boy even mean? I thought boys were supposed to have arm hair, and facial hair. I grew up learning that boys cut their hair short while girls keep their hair longer. I now ask myself- why?

I realize, that this is how it has been for the longest time. But now that my choices and inclinations are changing, so are those definitions.

Image source:
Image source:

Walking into the metro station last week, the lady officer suddenly boomed out to me that the men’s checking is on the right hand side. I was taken aback for a moment, and didn’t know whether to point at my chest or my ear lobes. She immediately understood and apologized. I laughed about it for a while, but eventually began to wonder about how easy societal norms have made it for her to identify me as a member of the male gender.

The day after I cut my hair, the first thing I heard as I entered my workplace was; “Dekho naye saab aaye hain.” This one still cracks me up and I fail to take offense at it. I am slowly beginning to realize how taking offense has become the thing of the country. But do we really need to? How else could we expect people to react to something they haven’t seen or heard of before, something out of their ordinary?

I realize that my sudden change in hairstyle may be difficult for you to understand. I understand that my short hair and baggy clothes sometimes make it hard for you to identify me. I completely get that this drastic change in my hair length may make you think of me as a boy. But that is okay, because you have been conditioned to believe in fixed gender roles and regulations. In fact, I am happy that you are reacting and then eventually apologizing because this means that you are changing. Slowly, one person at a time, you are accepting that girls too have short hair, that girls too wear baggy clothes; you are beginning to understand that the hard and fast rule on how girls or boys need to look are shifting shape.

I had cut my hair with the intention of donating it, and with the need for a radical change in the way I looked. As it turns out, my short hair has served me well for a completely different reason. It is bringing gender matters into new light.

As a world community, we are slowly moving toward breaking definitions and norms; we are choosing to look the way we want, and talk the way we want- sometimes that means a biological male wearing kajal and sometimes it means a biological female not shaving her armpits. It may sound like a really minute or mundane life choice, but this life choice is slowly enticing reactions of all the people around it and allowing tolerance as well as appreciation! As more and more people choose to step outside the lines of definition that society has passed down the ages; it is creating a movement for change of mentalities.

I am a woman, but I love looking like a boy sometimes, if that’s what my hair makes me look like to you. When you react at my hairstyle, you are reacting to an evolving generation; you are joining a growing community of openness that does not judge people for the choices they make regarding their appearance.

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  1. Zerub Roberts

    Talking about definitions and norms, it’s funny to judge someone with short hair as having a male identity, because historically both men and women had long hair. It wasn’t so obvious then that men should have short hair and that women have long hair. It was only during the french revolution, the rise of women working in factories and World War 1 that they’ve started cutting their hair down – because having long hair could be quite a disadvantage during battlefield, or even working in those industries.

    To judge a man or a women based on their hairstyle is historically ungrounded – there was never a well defined norm universally. But having said that, ever since you’ve turned up to the UN IYD, my girlfriend fell in love with your hairstyle and she wants to cut her hair short like yours. Now that has become a huge problem to me, not because I think women shouldn’t have it, or that they don’t look good in it but because I really really love her beautiful long hair and it would break me to not see it everyday.

    It’s totally upto her, but I’ve promised her were she to do that, she was gonna have to see me bald, and I don’t think she’d feel very good about that either. So we reached a compromise, and thankfully she’s gonna keep her long hair.

  2. Swati

    A simple article with an inspiring message. Hats off!

  3. Shailee

    Went bald 5 years back. Grew my hair long. Getting a buzz cut today. And my boyfriend loves my long hair yet is totally cool about this. No compromises. He always gets the haircut he likes, I get the one I do. It’s like eating the food you love and wearing the clothes you feel comfortable in. Change is fun.

  4. Jay NE

    I will still be in love with you more than ever……… who you’re dear!

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