Friday, April 4, 2008


If any of you know me at all, you understand that I am rarely (if ever) struck speechless. However, in certain interactions with other members of my species, no other response is possible in that moment. (Luckily, I am often able to blog about it afterwards.)

After ringing up the purchases of a middle aged male customer today in a baseball hat and a jacket with some saccharine-sweet saying about Jesus Christ, the following interaction occurred:

Customer: "You have really nice hair. You should grow it out."
Me: "Oh, actually I really like it short."
Customer: [laughs] "We'll see if your husband likes short hair."

This rendered me completely speechless. First of all, I am confident in who I am, short hair and all. I was walking on the mill race yesterday and realized I was walking tall and proud, confident about who I was. I occasionally think back to pre-college me, and realize that she would have been totally uncomfortable with the short hair, large earrings, pleated goodwill skirt over tights me, and I am so glad to be here. I am a woman, and I feel good about who I am, the unconventionally beautiful me who truly enjoys being unconventional. I'm also just not really sure what his intention was sort of a compliment wrapped up in telling me to change my appearance, given to a person he didn't even know. Interesting.

Upon further reflection, I realized the number of vast assumptions he made in that one statement. First, he assumed that I am a heterosexual (because all truly "normal" people are, you see). Second, he assumed that I want to get married (oh right, don't all women my age want to get married, too?). Third, he assumed that women should have long hair (no smarmy comment to put in parenthesis, sorry). Fourth, he assumed that my future husband's opinion about my hair would trump my own. Well, I reject all of his assumptions. I am heterosexual, I do want to get married (to a man who will honour my own opinions about my appearance), but I sure don't need long hair. However, I could have easily been a happily single homosexual, which would have made his comment even more outrageous. The amazing thing is that I'm sure he thought nothing of it. The beauty of having heterosexual white male privilege is that you don't think about these things because you don't have to. Since you are the default, the privileged one, you don't realize that not everyone is like you.

So I will continue to wear my hair short, to reject wedding mania, and to be proud of the woman I am, unwilling to fall into (some) conventional norms. Thus ends my social analysis moment du jour (SAMDJ for short).

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