My mom and I have a close and loving relationship, and her acceptance of my masculine image has come a long way over the past several years. There was a time when she was hesitant to walk into the men’s sections with me, passing judgment when I’d purchase something new on our then regular mother-daughter mall outings. These days, however, she’ll even point out and suggest nice button-ups or bottoms whenever we find the time to go shopping together. I know she doesn’t advocate the way I dress, but she actively tries to show her approval and I’m thankful for that.
My haircut idea was not something I thought my mom would okay with, though, just because it was big change that would push me further along the scale of masculinity. But to my surprise, when I told her of my plan and showed her some potential styles, she actually approved. It’s not like I needed her approval for a haircut, but it was nice to get positive feedback from the person whose opinions I valued most instead of the unrelenting resistance that I had wholeheartedly expected.
So because I knew I looked different post-haircut, I had anticipated some sort of reaction, perhaps a gasp followed by a “Not bad!” or maybe even a small compliment. That was wishful thinking.
When my mom saw me for the first time, my new coif elicited the worst reaction I had received to anything in a while. Worse than all the times I mentioned wanting tattoos. Worse than the time I came home after clumsily smashing my face on the sidewalk on the second day of eighth grade.* Worse than the day I finally confessed that the girl who kept coming over every college break wasn’t just a good friend. The look on her face was one of complete disgust, mixed with a lot of disappointment and a bit of shock. It was completely unique to this situation and not an expression I’d like to see again.
“Are you a man now?” Mom asked. This may have been the first time I had to defend my gender. It was weird because this was my mother whom I was speaking to.
“No,” I said (she wasn’t convinced). “I just have short hair now. You even said you were fine with me cutting it.”
“Not this short,” she retorted.
We left it at that. She didn’t speak to me for two days.
*Being the lazy kid that I was, I decided it was a great idea to run down a hill instead of walking around it to save some time after getting off the school bus. Little did I know, that hill ended in a rather steep, unforeseen drop. I landed just fine when I jumped, but the weight of my backpack pushed me forward, and all I had to cushion the fall were my face and hands. Eighth grade was a rough year.