Apparently, the title of my blog post today is a direct quote from Steve Jobs. Not a particular fan of Jobs myself, I can appreciate his tenacity and single-mindedness, and he was certainly not afraid to think different. This quote was brought to my attention when it was used in a blog by a friend of mine. Simon Young blogged about the hat he wears, why he wears it and how it’s become his signature. You can read his blog here.
And when I read Simon’s blog, it got me thinking. I personally had never even thought to ask him why he wears a fedora all day, pretty much every day. As far as I was concerned, it was what he liked doing, it was his thing, he seemed to be happy with the situation and the rest was none of my business! It’s funny cos I commented on his Facebook post linked to his blog that it had never occurred to me to ask him why and his response was: “Because you’re not afraid to be different.” A perspective I don’t often have of myself.
His blog post and his response to my comment really got me thinking. And I get his reasons for wearing a hat. They are similar reasons to me getting my side shave and why I keep it. I got a side shave because the idea of it thrilled me and scared me in equal parts. A good friend of mine had just gotten her side shaved and I loved her bravery and sass. I ummed and aaahed over it for a few weeks. I had my hair dresser tightly braid that side of my hair to mimic a side shave. And then eventually I decided to stop faffing about and to just do it!
Once my side was shaved, I felt different. I felt braver and sassier. People already stopped and looked at us, given we were living in Nanjing, China at the time. With my side shaved, they stopped and look at us even more! And I revelled in it. I loved the attention. I felt less suppressed by social gender norms. I am a cis female, a girl. Girls are societally expected to be pretty. Its where we are constantly told our value lies and great stress is placed on maintaining our looks. I have always struggled with this. As a teenager, I so desperately wanted to be different. I wore op shop clothes in weird combinations, I dyed my hair all colours of the rainbow, and still I felt the pressure to conform. The world that I lived in kept pushing me back to these ideas of looking like a ‘normal’ girl, both subtly and not so subtly. I remember dressing up to go to a function with my then boyfriend. I felt so good in my outfit of chunky boots, mini skirt, black tight t-shirt with red tartan arm warmers, only to have him turn up at my doorstep and say “You’re not wearing THAT are you?!” The different me that he claimed to love was slowly being whittled away by his under handed comments, with the intention of making me more palatable to the masses.
It didn’t work. But I still felt the weight of these expectations. Especially when I gained weight and deviated from what a pretty girl is strictly supposed to look like. It took me a very long time to identify this narrative. All my life I have been different for some reason or another. And through all of these differences, the narrative to be a good, pretty, outspoken but not too outspoken, curvy but not too curvy girl just like the others was a common theme underneath all the various facets of my life. Once I identified this narrative, I was determined not to let it define me. My side shave rebelled against this narrative and empowered me in some pretty unexpected ways.
- Its butch. I wasn’t fully prepared for how butch having a side shave felt for me! Especially as I have a fat face (Having a fat face is not a bad thing, so please don’t say “No, you don’t have a fat face. You’re beautiful.” I have a fat face AND I am beautiful). And after the initial shock of the feeling, I discovered how much I LOVED feeling a little bit butch. It made me feel powerful, strong and intimidating! And I basked in that power, even if it was all only in my head!
- Its drastic. Going from having long hair most of my life to shaving a chunk of hair off the side of my head… Well there was no way to tread lightly or ease myself into having a side shave, despite my efforts to do exactly that! The actual shave was proper scary. And it made me feel alive. It gave me butterflies. It made me nervous. I am a firm believer that nervousness is a sign that something matters. This mattered to me and I am so glad I had it done.
- Its confronting. I am totally enamoured with how my side shave really helps me embrace the unexpected qualities in me. Butch and pretty are not opposing notions despite what society tries to tell us. I can be strong and fat and butch and pretty and intimidating and comforting and attractive all in one package. I can be whatever the hell I decide to be! And whenever I style my hair or re-shave my side, I remember that and I feel brave again. Because I don’t have to fit into a stupid box or choose only one thing to be.
Yes, my side shave is a superficial detail, a hairstyle that I can get rid of with a few months growing my hair out if I wanted to. It’s not a big deal and it’s not going to save the world or even a person’s life. And it was a step that I took in expressing a little bit of who I am. Honestly, it’s the best hair style I have ever had. It feels authentic and very true to me as a person. And I do LOVE the feeling of freshly shaved hair after Nick has razored it right down. No one has really asked me why I shaved part of my head and yet in true me style, I have told you all anyways! Typical, ay.