Tag Archives: reaction

Initial Reactions – Part II

My mother’s silence and looks of disapproval luckily only lasted two days. She hasn’t shared any opinions about my hair since then, and every now and then she’ll ask if I just got a haircut without actually making any comments about it. My hair, like my sexuality, is now on the list of things that we don’t discuss. I’m okay with that.

Despite my mom’s objections, I absolutely loved my new do. I loved it so much that I quickly snapped the selfie seen in my first real post as soon as I could. To go hand in hand with feeling like my “true self,” a side effect of my haircut was feeling like my clothes magically looked 10 times better. That polo in the picture suited me more; my button ups fit so much better; my blazers finally looked right. Maybe that was the reason why I immediately gained confidence, and it was all from losing that excess length. I’m still not exactly sure, but everything was great now that I looked like a short young man (yeah, okay, maybe teenage boy at best). Shallow mirror talk aside, my scalp was also much happier, no longer having to deal with the constant pull and weight of my long locks. Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that I had a lot of hair on my head and my ponytail was so heavy that it probably could have been used as a weapon.

The responses over social media reassured me that I had picked the right new hairstyle. I was wondering if anyone would say “WTF!!” or “Ew, why?” but they didn’t. Instead, I got comments like “THIS HAIRCUT WAS MADE FOR YOU!! this ‘do was clearly your destiny” and “*lets bewbs out* take my body.” I didn’t expect to see comments of that nature at all and, to this day, I’m beyond thankful that I hadn’t made one of the worst mistakes of my life.

As for the reception at work, I had only warned one coworker that I was going to come back looking different the next day. That Tuesday morning, my new look was originally met with wide eyes and exclamations of surprise. But shortly after, it garnered compliments from my colleagues and one boss. I say one boss because the other one held his gaze a little longer than usual during a meeting but said nothing. I wasn’t sure about how to take his lack of comment, but maybe it was a professional thing to not make a big deal out of a workplace-acceptable change in hairstyle. Regardless, I thought my undercut made a great first impression in the office.

work selfie

And you thought you could avoid my “first day at work with short hair” bathroom selfie. Nope; that you cannot.

While my only concern was that I would miss having long hair, it never crossed my mind that I would have to deal with any negative consequences. That evening after my 9 to 5, I went to the gym and walked into the locker room as I did every other day. This time it was different, though. Those whom I hadn’t previously built relationships with were alarmed, only to look slightly less perplexed once I greeted my acquaintances. It was at this point in time that I realized I unknowingly crossed a societal boundary. I was being perceived as a man who made his way into the long locker room without realizing that he was surrounded by a bunch of women. This was just the beginning.

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Initial Reactions – Part I

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.

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