For Your Reflection: "It's Hairy"
As we draw our “It’s Hairy” series to a close, we at Camp Thirlby understand that our relationships with our hair extend far past our individual journeys; rather, they tell stories inspired by other stories, connect to other narratives, and, most powerfully, add to the communal experience of certain identities. To finish our series, our Camp Counselors have shared not just their personal experiences, as seen through the series itself, but the cultural works that have inspired their hair, or more deeply, their personal hair journeys.
As a child who devoured everything slightly related to the Harry Potter franchise, Hermione Granger’s bushy, unruly hair immediately let me know that she was the character I could relate to. Along with her love of books, fast hand-raising in class, and love of friendship, Hermione’s hair was something I could call my own. She was the character I repeatedly dressed as for Halloween, and always smiled when I watched her on TV, because she looked a little like me. Having that as a child was important, as while I pined after straight blonde hair, I knew that a character I looked up to for her bravery, intelligence, and inner fire didn’t have that hair, but had MINE.
This playlist is all songs by artists who have or have had a buzz cut at some point in their career. All of these people have inspired me with their bold looks, and ultimately convinced me to shave my head. I remember seeing how good Adrianne Lenker (of Big Thief) looked when she cut her hair, and noting that people in creative industries are so lucky that they can experiment with their appearance relatively easily, as a part of their job. Women with masculine appearances or Tyler, The Creator with cheetah print hair dye feels so inaccessible to a normal person, whether that is for good reason or not. I actually showed a picture of Ava Trilling (of Forth Wanderers) to the hairdresser when I cut my hair for the first time. The first picture of her chop on Instagram was posted just a few weeks before I cut my own.
The fact that all of these artists have sported a shaved head obviously does not say anything about what their music sounds like, but the collection goes well together, celebrating the beauty of a buzz cut.
As a lesbian, I’ve spent the past few years trying to figure out how my hair plays a part in my queer identity, especially since I used to have very long hair back in high school. Although I did the first Big Chop, aka a shoulder length bob, years before I watched The L Word for the first time, there’s a scene in the series where Jenny gets her first “lesbian haircut” in season 2 from her roommate and best friend Shane. She went from feminine, long locks to a super short, Mia Farrow-esque pixie so she’d be more readably queer, and although I didn’t do this drastic of a cut, I realize that my hair keeps getting shorter and shorter the more confident I become with my lesbianism. Apart from Jenny being the absolute worst character, I think this scene hits hard for all the baby gays who are trying to figure out how to present, and ultimately fit in, with the queer community.
The movie Nappily Ever After came out in 2018 and I really resonated with it. It followed a very successful black woman. She'd been perming her hair from a little age because of her mother. She lived her life hiding her natural hair state from her white coworkers because she wanted to blend in. But, a bad hair job forces her to shave off all her hair and she learns to love the hair that grows out of her head. This movie was so necessary, and I wish I'd had it when I was younger.
For most of high school, I had long blonde hair that ran halfway down my back. I depended on it like a safety blanket; when I felt insecure about the texture of my skin or the roundness of my face, my hair was there to hide behind (or to flip in a classic teen girl power move). Halfway through senior year, I got tired of hiding and chopped off about nine inches. I expected to hate it, but I immediately felt freed by the change. A couple of months later, I got wrapped up in the cult classic TV series Twin Peaks. My favorite character Audrey Horne sported a wavy bob with her plaid skirt and saddle shoes. Audrey was bold and adventurous, playful and coy, and she introduced me to a new breed of femininity that I adopted as my own as I maintained a committed relationship with my bob.
This might be too dramatic, but I have to say “Crack Baby” and “A Burning Hill” by Mitski. They’re the last two tracks from her album Puberty 2, which is a huge trans mood. Crack Baby tells a story of loss and unsuccessful search for soothing, while A Burning Hill is a calm resolution to continue as peacefully as one can.
King Princess’ self-confidence boosted my little queer self acceptance in many ways, hair included. In her lively Instagram presence she often shares photos of her dancing on stage with glimpses of unshaved armpits. She’s posted a series of glamour shots recently, and in her signature out-there captions, they did not focus on how amazing she looks, but pointed out a bush is hiding under milky white undies. It’s another moment of KP owning everything about herself — her queerness, her silly selfies, her early 2000s tween boy style. She makes me want to boast my radical queer hairy lady self at all times with no shame in any ounce of my being. She does her thing, and inspires us followers to do ours.