H has been choosing dresses more often as the warm weather starts to creep in. We usually let him choose what to wear. If he wants jeans and a dinosaur t-shirt with sneakers, that’s fine. But if he feels more comfortable that day in a skirt, that’s fine too. Lately though, the discussion with H hasn’t been about clothes. The other week he caught his reflection in a window as we walked home and he frowned. When I asked him what was wrong (being a parent of a child like H, one grows quickly accustomed to sensitivities when it comes to his appearance).
He looked at me and said: I should have long hair to be really pretty.
At first I didn’t know what to say exactly. Of course I tried to assure him that what really mattered was on the inside. But the truth is, H’s hair length has always been a bit of touchy subject. His father and I, while very supportive of who our son is, have always felt keeping his hair somewhat short to be important. (Especially when he was younger, simply because it was easier to manage). But H is at the age where we also want to encourage him to be himself, s0….
After some discussion, we’ve decided it’s up to H what to do with his hair. It’s his, after all. And it’s important that he feels good about himself, however it’s just as important that we work hard to stress that appearance isn’t everything. This is such a tricky lesson to teach a child with gender issues. So much of how he thinks about himself is tied into questions about how he’s dressed. I just have keep reminding him that no matter how he looks on the outside, he’ll always be the same on the inside.
It’s been about two weeks and I find him checking his hair length in the bathroom mirror sometimes. His bangs have grown a lot since his last haircut. He’s happy about that and therefore so am I.