- Edition 5, Chapter 2.2 -



Meaghan, our videographer, has very strong opinions about her hair, and has worn it short since her teens. This is her story of navigating the gender issues that inevitably arise in the cutting debate.

I saw photos of Agyness Deyn when I was 12 or 13; I waited to cut my hair off until I was 16, farther into high school, more comfortable with myself, and not caring about the small, conservative views in my small town. I had been growing my hair for a few years, so it was very long but very dead because I’d been dying it a bunch, using shampoo… when I went into the salon, with the picture, I said, “I want it all gone; a pixie.” (Forgive me for the use of that word, I didn’t know any better.) The stylist said, “You have such long, pretty hair. Are you sure you don’t want go somewhere in the middle, a bob to see if you like it?” I said, “No, I want it off, nothing covering my neck.” So she did it, and I cried a little after because I wasn’t sure how to see myself yet – and it was a little Bieber-y. None of the short cuts I’d seen on women in person until that point looked like Agyness; they were grandma cuts. It just wasn’t a thing unless they were significantly older and grayish.

 

Agyness Deyn, 2008

Meaghan' first short cut, 2010

 

I didn’t want to look like a girl, because all the girls looked the same in high school; so did the guys. Everybody looked the same. I didn’t want to look butch, femme, or like a boy; I just wanted to look good. Nobody looked good. The proper haircut for me would have been short and masculine, but with a feminine touch – a balance. And I didn’t want a soccer-mom haircut, longer bits in the front, round. The reference I had was quite edgy, and when people do a boy’s haircut on a girl the same way they do it on a boy, it doesn’t work. There’s some tweaking that needs to be done.

Agyness’ cut was a boy’s cut on a girl, and whoever did it knew what to do. But the stylist I took that photo to wasn’t understanding that; she wanted to keep me feminine. Agyness still had a feminine aspect, so I knew it could be done. But I didn’t want to be, for lack of a better word, dyke-y, that cut-my-hair-off rite of passage for gay, bisexual or queer girls. It was a coming-to-terms moment for me, but I didn’t want just a short haircut, I wanted something cool, not like a soccer-mom or my grandmother.

when people do a boy’s haircut on a girl the same way they do it on a boy, it doesn’t work.

At the time, the concept of androgyny hadn’t come into my world yet. I don’t think anybody has a set list of what androgyny is – people with long hair, short hair, no hair can be androgynous – and when I understood that there’s a gray area, I could exist and happily cultivate my own look. I don’t really define my sexuality anyway; I say gay because it’s easy, but it’s more complex than that. I would just describe it as open – my look, my sexual identity, my gender identity. Cutting hair to find a place along the spectrum is what I think gay or queer women seek out, especially if they’re going for something like Tilda or Agyness – beautifully and eternally androgynous.

To see more of Meaghan’s current cuts and color experiments, go to Edition 2, Chapter 7.