If at 18 Klara creates a PowerPoint to persuade me to allow her to change her hairstyle, I’ll know I have done something really wrong as a parent. Come to think of it, I’ll feel the same even if she’s 5 when it happens.
P.S. I’m completely in support of anti-gun protests and I also denounce racism and sexism. And homophobia. I denounce that too, just in case.
9 thoughts on “Body Autonomy”
Are you more horrified by the idea that she’d make a sustained argument about her hair or the use of PowerPoint?
For myself the idea that she solicited parental approval at all seems age inappropriate. A teenager who’s worried about parental reactions to her hairstyle is weirdly infantile.
If teen hair choices don’t freak out or dismay parents then they’re not doing it right.
As rebellion goes, shaving the hair is as meek as it gets because hair grows back.
I’d avoid sharing a story like this because it’s not really cute.
That at 18 it would occur to somebody to seek her parents’ permission to change her hairstyle. I’m assuming these are people who haven’t survived a totalitarian regime, so this is incomprehensible. As we say, “good girl” is a diagnosis.
I fought to not have my hair forcibly cut from ages 2-7, when I finally won. Then I fought for 4 more years for the right to wash my hair myself, winning at 11. So maybe this girl is a refugee from that. I didn’t have Power Point but I would write manifestos, about hair and also clothes sometimes.
It’s not the girl I blame. It’s the parents. I’m sure you know better than anyone that your parents made many mistakes as parents.
My 2-year-old chooses how to wear her hair every morning. And it’s not always the choice that’s most convenient to me. But if I don’t teach her today that her body is hers, she’ll face much hardship as a grown woman.
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Right, but in US hair and clothes are things that can get you thrown out of the house, beaten up, things like that. I totally see the need to convince parents before shaving head. If you are living in their house, you must do as they say. You can’t just go and shave your head if you have not also lined up a place to go when they throw you out.
Exactly! That’s exactly it. This is being narrated in the press like a cute story but there might be a very sad reality behind it. And I’m glad that at least here we are talking about it and not just mindlessly repeating this narrative without looking at everything it might be hiding. Because we are literary critics, and that’s what we know how to do.
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It would not be unheard of for a student shaving her head to be in violation of a school dress code.
Of course, sometimes hair gets more complicated if you’re black: When Black Hair Violates the Dress Code
…As spring came around this year, the girls, who just turned 16, told their parents they wanted to get braided hair extensions. Their parents happily obliged, wanting Mya and Deanna to feel closer to their black heritage.
But when the girls got to school, they were asked to step out of class. Both were given several infractions for violating the dress code. Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, north of Boston, bans hair extensions in its dress code, deeming them “distracting.”
When administrators asked the girls to remove their braids, Mya and Deanna refused.
The next day, Colleen and Aaron Cook came to the school where, they say, they were told the girls’ hair needed to be “fixed.” The Cooks refused, telling administrators that there was nothing wrong with the hairstyle.
As punishment, the girls were removed from their extracurricular activities, barred from prom and threatened with suspension if they did not change their hair.
According to Colleen Cook, administrators at Mystic Valley have routinely reprimanded black students for dress code violations involving hair.
Other black girls have been pulled out of class, she says, lined up, asked if they had hair extensions and given detention if they did.
Colleen remembers when one student, who wore her hair in its natural texture, was taken out of class and told that she would need to relax, or chemically straighten, her hair before returning to school the next day.
In defense of their daughters, the Cooks brought in a yearbook to show school leaders the many white female students with hair extensions and dyed hair.
But, the Cooks say, the administration didn’t see that those students were in violation of the dress code, stating those hair alterations weren’t as obvious….
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