My Husband, My Hair

Sooo... I'm pretty sure my husband hates my haircut.

He hasn't come right out and said it, but I'm pretty sure he does, and here's how I know: I emailed him a photo last Tuesday, the day I got it cut, and it took him till this past Sunday to look at it. And then when I asked him what he thought, he said that it was, "interesting" and then committed a total cardinal sin by saying, "You have sort of an Angela-Davis-y thing going on."

I'm pretty sick of comparisons of my hair with back-in-the-day Angela Davis. It's irritating to me because she's not the only black woman with natural hair and, well, totally different generation and all that.

Then, two days ago when he picked me up at LAX, he didn't say ANYTHING about my hair the whole hour-long ride home through rush hour traffic. Talk about awkward! It was so odd that I found myself wanting to laugh over his obvious discomfort with my appearance. We hung out at home for an hour before I asked him what he thought about the elephant in the room. He says, "Well, it looks better than I thought it would," and then, reluctantly, "If you like it, then I like it."

Uh, okaay, player. That's about the safest, most neutral answer anyone who really hates a hairdo could give unless they just flat out lied and said, "I think it's beautiful!" I mean, if your wife showed up after five weeks with a good 10-12 inches of hair missing from her head, wouldn't you have something more to say than that?

I'll admit, when I stepped back and thought about it, my feelings were a little hurt by all this ambivalence and reluctance to even ask me about the process of getting it cut. You don't have to like it but at least ask me about what it was like to get it cut. But no, he pretty much has disengaged from the whole subject, and to be fair, I think it's hard for him. He hasn't spent all the time thinking about all the reasons to cut out the chemicals. And, he'll be the first to admit that he's been brainwashed by society into believing that long and straight hair is more attractive. He jokingly calls his mentality about hair the "curse of the black man".

Indeed, we've had countless conversations about the proliferation of lighter skin and long hair in every single R&B or hip-hop video, and that's from day one before the corporations totally took over the music and the associated imagery. Plus, in our personal lives, there's the constant messages we've been hearing since we were children. Nappy is not happy, feminine, desirable or beautiful. Sure, there may be the beginnings of a shift away from this sort of thinking over the past few years, but that doesn't erase all the years of cultural brainwashing we've both been exposed to.

To make it all even more confusing, despite his "brainwashing", he's previously said he understands all the reasons why I stopped straightening my hair. I realize now though that he thought it was just about me hating my previous hairdresser. So, I think in theory he only slightly understands. And in practice... well, I think he rather wishes someone else was the one putting the natural hair thing into practice. He just won't say it directly.

Ultimately, this is alright because I didn't cut my hair for him or to please him. It's about being true to myself, being a good role model for my boys, and acknowledging that there's nothing bad about what God created. And, I'm still figuring out how to wear it. There are "good" hair days and then totally jacked up ones, like yesterday. Oh, yesterday was a mess. My hair does not like this dry Los Angeles air at all!

Really though, it's all got me to thinking about how when you marry someone, their appearance is obviously going to change over the long years you spend together, and there's not really a whole lot you can do about those changes. You can encourage someone to take care of them themselves mentally, spiritually and physically and of course, you do those things for yourself. Regardless, you roll with it or you don't. But how many of our other halves are brave enough to say, "I don't like your haircut," or, "Yes, I definitely think you look fat in that outfit," when we ask for their opinion?

It also reminds me of the silly questions my friends and I used to ask guys twenty years ago, stuff like, "Would you still love me if I gained 100 pounds," and "Would you still love me if I got hit by a car and became a quadriplegic. Back then, the guy would honestly say, "Oh hell no!" and we'd all laugh about it together because it was all so stupid, the question, the answer, the reason we were sitting next to each other in the first place.

But when you're married, those sort of questions become about other things, they become deeper, and perhaps we're sometimes both afraid to give and receive the answers.


Jameil said…
that's hard. do you want to talk about your reasons with him even if he doesn't ask? my dad and favorite aunt both had horrid reactions when i cut my hair and it was much shorter than yours. my dad has grown to tolerate it. my aunt now likes it and cut hers, too. but she originally told me to wear a wig in order to get a job.
the joy said…
This happened the other way around. Kesi had waist length hair and I hated for him to cut it. I know that he'd hate for me to cut my hair- I wouldn't even ask him how he felt cuz he'd probably make me cry.

As for you, at the end of it its just hair and he still loves you. Maybe he figures better not to say anything, but of course there's the tension... I always say don't ask a question you're not ready for the answer to. You two should talk though.
Anonymous said…
Ouch. That's a tough one. But you're right - you had yoru reasons and its for you and that sis ultimately what matters.
Men are simply not equipped to handle haircuts, straight men, that is.

I have a long history of horrible haircuts but I remember one in particular in which the guy cut off about 2 feet of healthy hair and I looked like a little boy in drag.

Flip met me at the door and carefully kept his face neutral as I slipped under his arm and locked myself in the bathroom.

"It looks just the way I hoped it would," he said through the door.

And that was without any ethnic issues going on.

I think natural black hair is beautiful, soft and touchable, and you are a gorgeous woman. I have no doubt it looks great, and you should wear it with pride and confidence.
Anonymous said…
They sure do. As you may recall I had to cut off about 10 inches of damaged hair as well and I was not happy about it. I've actually cut my hair another 4 inches. I have a super short bob now but if I cut it any more I'm going to want hair extensions! I'm not married but we always have to evaluate our closest relationships and these things do make a difference.In the end we just have to remind ourselves of what's more important. Hubby will get used to it.
Liz Dwyer said…
We've talked about it before but I don't think he believed I'd actually take the step of jumping from talking about it to doing it. So, even though I was talking about cutting it off from a perspective of actually changing myself, I think he was thinking about it as if it was going to happen to someone else.

The Joy,
Yes, my husband had waist-length locs and he cut them off five years ago. It was definitely a shock when he walked in the door after getting them chopped but I totally understood why he did it and supported it. I do think he figures it's better to not say anything, but I'd rather he just say what he really thinks, even if it might hurt my feelings. That way I don't have to guess what he really thinks, you know?

It is tough because he doesn't have to like it because I cut it for my own reasons. I'd rather he just say so instead of being so cagey about it.

LOL at the imagery of you as a little boy in drag. Did you go into the bathroom to try to "fix" it? And you're probably right on about them being unequipped to handle haircuts. Come to think of it, he didn't do too well with a just below chin-length disaster a few years ago either.
Liz Dwyer said…
These sorts of things definitely do make a difference. He will have to get used to it. I like this so much though that I might decide to keep it this short instead of letting it grow out.
Oh, hell no. I went into the bathroom to LIVE until it grew back.

That was my intention. And then I discovered hats.
Liz Dwyer said…
Hahaha! You were gonna live in there? Thank goodness the hats came to the rescue!
My mom told me to my face I looked ugly when I cut all my hair off. I was going natural and cut the chemicals out. That level of bluntness is not that great. ha.

Anyway, you look beautiful and your husband is probably just trying to get used to the new look.
Nerd Girl said…
Interesting isn't it - our men and our hair?

My husband was totally supportive of my going natural. He was more freaked out about my cutting my hair than my locking my hair. The longer my locks get, the more compliments I get from him on my hair. It all goes back to the beauty myth and what we, as Americans are told is beautiful - and anything that doesn't fit in the box . . .

You and your hair look great. Your husband will realize that sooner or later - probably sooner, and all will be well.
Anonymous said…
When I first went natural my hair was 2 inches or so and thankfully my husband loved it. Later I found out he was actually relieved because he thought I was getting my head shaved, like in a fade. Your hair will grow out quickly and he'll get accustomed to it in time.
Liz Dwyer said…
Yeah, I could sort of do without that level of bluntness too. Jeez, that's hardcore blunt! I guess I should be grateful that my husband hasn't said that to me. That would be rather hard to live with.

Nerd Girl,
One of the things that makes me believe I've done something right is that both of my sons absolutely love my hair. The both tell me how pretty they think it is. So it makes me think I've (so far) helped them not buy into the beauty myths we're taught. I hope I can keep it that way.

LOL! That's funny. I think my husband thought my hair would be shorter than it is as well. I guess that's what he meant when he said it looks better than he thought it would. :)
Anonymous said…

I still think it's YOUR hair. I don't think my husband liked my shaved head - but he liked that I liked it. Plus, I could give a crap if he doesn't like my hair.

He married ME - not my hair. so he knows better than complain. He just says, "I think you look better with long hair". So I'm growing it out for a while to see if I like it.

That man loves you - and you were away a long, long time. In my unasked for opinion, the uncomfortability comes form the distance. I bet it will dissipate with time.
Liz Dwyer said…
Thank you for the hug! I'm beginning to think his initial shock will dissipate with time, too. He actually told me it looked nice last night. See, he's adapting! :)
Gartside Report said…
LOL, I loved reading the comments and they are all so true. From your report I agree that your husband is struggling with the cut, and he doesn't want to hurt your feelings. He will grow to like and then love it in time. Acceptance is key so you can allow him his own response and the time to firm up his feelings without imposing how you think he should respond. By the way...the cut looks great in the photo
DJ Black Adam said…
As a married man, I say your husband said the right thing with: If you like it, I like it"!
Lola Gets said…
Its hard dealing with that "Black man's curse." As Ive said on my site, one of the reasons I keep my hair long is because men prefer it.

But I also think its sometimes hard adjusting to change. You've worn your hair for so long, so I could see it being somewhat of a shock to his system. I'm glad to see he's coming around, though, lol. Plus, both you and he know it'll be long again!

jillybean said…
Give him some time to adjust. When I met my husband I had a ceasar hair cut. I kept my hair that way for 9 years. I just grew it back and he loves it. He said he doesn't mind what the top of my hair looks like as long as what's on the inside stays the same. I'm sure your husband appreaciates the brain inside of that head.
Liz Dwyer said…
I think he may be warming up to it. He actually was pulling on my hair yesterday, trying to make it spring back and forth.

Haha! He's also gotten to see a couple of folks we know positively gush over my hair so I think he's being slightly swayed by other folk's opinions! ;)

It is hard adjusting to change! I'm still getting used to it so I know he's definitely still getting used to it. Everything's new, like ow it gets all smushed into a mohawk when I sleep on it!

Good point. It's better to think about the brain inside instead of what's covering the brain!
Mango Mama said…
I really don't understand why the hair thing has to be so deep. From the photo, we can see that you look fabulous, and I do think your husband's reaction has more to do with adjusting to change. Long hair, short hair, natural or processed, what's important is how you feel with whatever style you're rocking. Do your thing and he'll eventually get with the program, because there's nothing more attractive/sexy than a woman confident in her own skin.
Karen said…
Looking on the bright side--your husband TRIED to be nice. I'd be happy with indifference, frankly.

I have an ongoing issue with my husband, who, at times, has threatened to divorce me if I cut my hair any shorter (to be fair, that was the time I got an almost-buzz cut and totally bleached it out. . .) and there have been times he's stopped talking to me because he didn't like my haircut. (BTW, when we met and started dating my hair was short).

I just don't get this possessiveness over my hair. My body, my hair--lay off me. He takes it as a personal affront. (Solipsistic much?) Don't ask me why. Any of my friends who grew up with me can tell you I change my hair ALL the time--it has nothing to do with him. I'm sure there must be some deep-seated mother issue underlying it all. . .

In any event, I've told him that if he wants to get up an hour earlier wash and style my hair and all that so it looks decent, I would be delighted to grow it long . . .otherwise, MYOB.

It was great to meet you on Sunday. Hope we'll get the chance to hang out again soon--and I'm looking forward to reading more of your stuff.
Liz Dwyer said…
Oh, just saw your comment. I'm all behind the times! Anyway, I'm totally over whether or not he likes it because I love it. I think this is one of the best decisions I've made in a long LONG time!

I think I took my husband's reaction as being passive aggressive instead of nice. The way he was looking at me when he first saw me, well, I thought he was gonna throw up. Thank goodness we don't have one of those prenups that stipulate that I can't ever cut my hair. I haven't changed mine very much over the years so this is very different though from how I've worn it most of my life. I know if I'm still getting used to it.

And yes, quite nice to meet you and chat with you a bit on Sunday. I came by your blog and enjoyed it quite a bit. It made me laugh and I needed that today.

Popular Posts