April 9th, 2010

It’s Not a Boy, It’s a Pixie

Becca Sanders

I brought daughter F. in for a haircut the other day. “What are we doing today?” the stylist said. “I’m thinking a kind of pixie cut,” I said,  “Shorter in the back here and then over her ears…” “You want it OVER HER EARS?” Our eyes locked – the stylist’s and mine.

I remembered the lessons I’d learned at training classes for our dog, Big Ben. Who’s alpha here? I thought. I’M alpha. I squinted and stared harder. I’ve got all day, lady. Finally she blinked and looked away. “Alright, then,” she said, picking up her scissors. “I think we can do that…”

We left twenty minutes later, F. looking incredibly cute in her new ‘do. Okay, if I dressed her in camouflage shorts and a polo shirt she could probably pass for a two-year old boy – albeit one with rather delicate features. This doesn’t bother me. At this age it shouldn’t matter.

But it does seem to matter. Several years ago, my sister was visiting me with her then three-year old daughter M. We took M. to get a haircut. It was short. It was adorable – so we thought. But M. did not. “I look like a boy,” she said sadly, and she passed by a shop window. Later, at the airport, a woman in the security lane admonished my sister for “doing that to a little girl.”

I have short hair. My sister has short hair. Many of our friends have short hair. But often the little girls in the family get caught up in the must-have-long-beautiful-tresses ideal. Where does it come from? Culture? Biology? Disney? (Take a look at the Disney heroines. I can only think of one – Snow White – who didn’t have long hair.)

“What are you going to do about F.? You have maybe two years before she starts,” my sister says, meaning two years before F. will fall prey to this equation: girls = long hair, boys = short hair. Is this really what being “feminine” or “masculine” boils down to – the length of our hair? Apparently it does, at some truly annoying cultural level. Darned you, cultural norms!

For now, F. will continue to get her hair cut into easy-to-manage pixie cuts – until such time as she states her own opinion in the matter. I’ll support her in whatever she decides. After all, she’s my little girl.

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Have you ever put a small child on a public potty — the kind with the automatic flusher — and had it flush while your child is sitting on it? Only to send him/her into a state of sheer panic? Well here’s a tip to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Carry a pad of post-it notes with you in your bag. When your child gets on the potty, put a post-it note over the infrared sensor. The sensor will be fooled, and your trip to the potty will be freak-out free.