Tricky Tresses for Gaysi Women

Appearance has become such a big part of queer existence and identity for women.  Fitting certain check marks on the list of common attire and appearance often helps queer women find each other in the sea of unavailable heterosexuals.  The main aspect of appearance I want to talk about is gaysi women’s hair, because I love hair and its complexities fascinate me.

I did cut my hair short when I first came out, and I cut it short again many times after that probably as a way of holding onto the edgy subversive-ness I was constantly striving for.  I didn’t want to look like just any other desi girl.  There were conflicting layers to my relationship with hair at this time though.  I started refusing to shave my armpits and legs because I felt (and still feel) spiritually, personally, and politically that my hair isn’t meant to be cut or removed.  All the while I was still adamantly keeping the hair on my head short.

Well, I think I have finally broken my cycle of cutting the hair on my head.  I will gladly appreciate other queer women’s short haircuts, but I’m hoping I’ve kicked my hairy hypocrisies.  Every now and then I get the urge to cut my hair short, because I miss being able to identify with queer women so visually, and ooh the edginess! …but then I remind myself of what is important to me.  I don’t know any Sikh queer women (who keep kesh), but I suppose it would be a similar situation.  As a queer brown woman I have realized that I can’t expect the queer “beauty” standards created by white queer people to dictate how I relate to my body and my hair.  Queerness obviously existed in India before it was marketed and sold in a package, delivered by the same people who colonized that country.  When I contemplate my hair, which is queer by default because I am, I will consider my religion and my culture.

At first glance my “hair rules” may seem like stubbornness.  It’s not like I wrap myself in bright orange cloth with jata on my head so it’s not obvious that I would have any strong religious leanings.*  And my hair is “straight” just like most white people so it seems like it wouldn’t need special attention.  Aside from stubbornness, my complex hair process in the shower, the honey, the lemon juice, the baking soda, often comes across as unnecessary hippie extravagances.  However, there is nothing hippie or unnecessary about a spiritual desire and need to be kind to one’s blessed hair.  I am eager to make space for my stubborn coconut oil and refusal to flatiron my hair, and I am eager to feel that I am no less queer because of these alternative and tricky hair rules.

Religious or non-religious, how have all of you been affected by the queer hairstyle trend?  Visually I can see that some queer desi women have decided to cut their short and some haven’t.  Sometimes they may feel that they have no complicated relationship with their hair and no complex reason for doing their hair the way they do… BUT, I love hair so I want to hear your stories if you have them!

*Just to be clear, I’m not poking fun at sadhus and sadhvis, just acknowledging that I am not one.

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Anurag is a queer, feminist, social worker-to-be. Currently residing in the cornfields of Illinois.  Fierce, emotional and reclaiming the brown-ness. 

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