My six year old recently got her hair cut. Quite short. It suits her, and it’s completely adorable. For a whole twenty-four hours, she felt like the Queen of Hair Land, and rightly so. Girlfriend was killin’ it!
Then, some little boys at the park teased her, said she “couldn’t be a REAL girl”, and told her she was “too ugly to be a girl”. (Notice the double standard there? Boys can have short hair, and be handsome, but if a girl has short hair she’s *ugly*?) Obviously, this was hurtful.
First of all, she didn’t realize there were folks in the world who didn’t know it’s rude to comment on a stranger’s body without their permission. Secondly, who likes to be called ugly? She stood up for herself. Her big sisters had some choice words to say, too. It was upsetting enough to need a Popsicle and some P!nk for the rest of the afternoon.
“I told them that a girl is worth more than whether a boy thinks she’s pretty. A girl’s life is worth more than just being pretty!”
So I mentioned it on Facebook, knowing she has some internet fairy godmothers who would say empowering things to her, and maybe restore her baby girl faith in humans.
And then this started happening.
Ladies and girls began posting photos of themselves in various styles of short hair, along with comments encouraging her to not let others define her worth by her hair choices, and to do what feels right for her. Body-positive comments were left by guys, too.
“Rock the buzz!! Real girls do whatever the heck they want to!”
“No hair, short hair, long hair, green hair, braided hair, natural hair, frizzy hair, wild hair…your body, your choice! A person’s worth as a being isn’t tangled up in hair.”
Then, a generous teen fandom group on Instagram caught wind of the story and decided to show some love by posting photo edits of their favorite fandom actresses and characters rockin’ the short hairdos under hashtag #shorthairforevathegrace.
These were some of 6yo’s favorites.
My daughter will carry the memory of the obnoxious and belittling comments for the rest of her life, I’m sure. They made a big impression. Little girls of every race, shape, economic situation, and size deal with it every day (some more than others).
What’s cool, though, is that the experience of being swamped with love and empowerment from older girls and women was so much bigger for her. She’s holding her head up high, and feeling big dignity for herself and for her tribe. I couldn’t have done that alone, because, let’s face it– a mama’s words only go so far to heal a social wound. Her confidence is the direct result of supportive community, even if it comes in the form of internet and kind-hearted fandoms.
That’s the power of words, and a beautiful by-product of compassionate social media and fiction.