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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Is my neice's hair a feminist issue...?

3 replies

BlingLoving · 11/01/2013 08:13

My 17 yo old has grown up in quite a conservative family. She has long dark hair and recently put on FB that she was thinking of going lighter / blonde. I was interested in all the responses - part of ,e agreed with all the people telling her that her hair is lovely as it is, but part of me was also frustrated at all the people who were really very aggressive with their opinions, "you're such a natural beauty, don't you dare change it" etc.

I felt that as a 17 yo she should a) feel comfortable doing what she likes with her hair and b) that if she asks for an opinion she has to expect them but why do people feel they can tell her what to do or that "natural" is better.

At that age, (I grew up in a slightly conservative, bu as conservative as her) all the boys in my group were growing their hair long etc, but us girls were still being encouraged to stay "natural" and not express ourselves as we wanted to.,

I don't think i am explaining very well, but the whole thing left me slightly uncomfortable and I don't know why.

OP posts:
FloatyBeatie · 11/01/2013 08:28

I'd say that staying "natural" rather than buying a product is a way of staying relatively free from the consumerist pressures that are a very large source of an anti-feminist confinement of women to prescribed ways of being.

Encouraging boys in a desire to grow long hair is very different from encouraging them to dye their hair. Do you think boys are left feeling freer to dye their hair than girls are? If so, that might be a piece of evidence supporting your concern.

I'd be with the "stay natural" brigade. Nature is less confining than consumerism these days.

NewYearNewNagoo · 11/01/2013 08:29

She asked for opinions, like you say.

I suppose that we could see it that long hair in good condition is a hard won thing, and people value it, since it takes years to achieve.

It's a common response for people to see it as 'ruined' because once you cut it off or bleach it it is hard to get it back to the previous condition.

I don't think it's necessarily an effort to control her or keep her 'in line'.

scaevola · 11/01/2013 08:48

You do not know why the posters were saying 'stay natural' and I think you are projecting.

For all you know, they may be anti-consumerist, or have had a bad reaction to dye, or be concerned she's letting herself in for more maintenance than she expects, or simply love the natural blonde that she has. Or perhaps they think her hair complements her skin tone and a drastically different shade wouldn't. Some people are nervous of hairdressers, or recoil at the (ongoing) expense. Others may think experimenting is fun; some may be more conservative and think that when you look good it's a good thing to stick with it (especially with long hair, as there are so many styling options). They may be genuinely complimenting her current appearance.

Also, she solicited views and so presumably wants them. It could I suppose be a problem if you have reason to believe this is a symptom of a lack of self-esteem that means she can only act how others tell her. It would also be a problem if people were telling her what do do with her hair when she had not explicitly asked them.

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