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.
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.