Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mom lets six year old daughter shave head. Internet goes berserk.

Okay, maybe I'm overstating the case with that title, but in all seriousness, quite a lot of people seemed to have an issue with Paige Lucas-Stannad's decision to let her six year old daughter shave her head.  According to the article I linked from Today.com, six year old Aellyn had seen her dad shave his head, liked the style, and decided she wanted to try it herself.  She asked her mom if she could.  Mom said yes, but figured maybe the child would eventually forget about her request.

Aellyn still wanted to shave her head.  Lucas-Stannad was actually okay with it on principle and had even written a book about defying gender stereotypes.  But as she looked at her daughter with her pretty hair, she struggled with allowing the girl to go through with her plan to lose it.  So she tried telling Aellyn that there could be some backlash from shaving her head.  People might think she was a boy or assume she was sick with some disease.  Aellyn's response was that that was silly.  Girls can wear their hair any way they want to.

If you click the link, you can see what the end result of the haircut was.  While I can see why so many people think hair is a big deal, Aellyn appears to be happy with her shaved head.  She's also still a pretty little girl.  Years from now, I bet Aellyn and her mother will look back on that experiment with fondness and maybe a few laughs.

Even though comments on stories like this one tend to make me feel sad for the human race, I went ahead and checked them out anyway (on Facebook).  Quite a few people said they would not have allowed Aellyn to shave her head and criticized her mom for not saying no to her.  One mom went as far as saying that her daughter knew not to remove the bow from her ponytail.  Another said "that kid looks awful."  More wondered who was in "control" of that relationship.  Really?

I realize I don't have my own kids so maybe I have no right to offer an opinion, but it seems to me it's just hair.  It will grow back.  In fact, having a shaved head may be a great thing for many reasons.  For one thing, there's less time needed for hairstyling in the morning.  As the weather warms, it may be cooler to have less hair.  And, if Aellyn is anything like I was at her age, having a shaved head may prevent certain hair catastrophes.

When I was five years old, some genius let me get ahold of a pair of scissors.  I gave myself a butcher of a haircut... cut my hair really short so I looked like a boy.  There are pictures of me with the weird hairdo somewhere, probably in my scrapbook, which is in storage now.  I think my mom was really pissed off about it, though she made me keep short hair when I was a kid anyway.  I hated short hair and wanted to grow it out.  Sadly, it won't grow past my shoulders.  By the way, I still cut my own hair.

Another time, I got gum in my hair after falling asleep while chewing it.  The matted, wadded mass of gum had to be cut from my tresses.  I'm sure there are better ways to remove gum now, but back in the late 70s, we didn't have Internet household "hacks".

When I was in the Peace Corps, I had (and still have) a friend who used to shave her head regularly.  At the time, I figured it was because she was gay (and at the time, she did have a girlfriend), but now that she's married to a guy and has grown her hair long, I figure maybe she did it for practical reasons.  I always thought it was interesting to watch her hair grow back until she'd shave it off again.  I never asked her why she shaved her head.  I figured it was none of my business.  She was attractive either way, though, and a lot of her appeal came from her personality.

Some people on the Today article commented that they wouldn't let Aellyn shave her head because they are "in charge" of how their child looks.  And that's fine, I guess.  But why should you criticize how another mother chooses to parent her child, especially when head shaving is essentially harmless?  The only way I could see this as a problem is if she's in a school that dictates that kids have to have "non-distracting" hairstyles.  You usually see those kinds of rules in private schools.  But is a shaved head really that distracting?  Sometimes girls have shaved heads because they have cancer and have lost most of their hair.

Seriously... check out a few of these comments...

uggg... really? that kid looks awful... who is in control of that relationship? a 6 ur old?!? I bet when the kid sees these pics when she grows up she will say to her mom "what were u thinking?!!"

I keep seeing "its just hair". Is this the same reason hair products are a billion dollar industry every year? No.. Stop being pc and speak ur mind. It does matter. It is a large part of identity and you should pride in your appearance. Geeze. Or we let the inmates run the prison. Lol. 

No children are not qualified to make decisions about their bodies. Are you guys cracked out ur head? This is how kids get pregnant and diseased by not having a parent that actually cares and instructs them how to act and to treat others.

On a different note, according to the Word of God, a woman, in this case a young female, the WORD says her hair is her glory! So the kid wants to eat Cheetos everyday and eat pizza pockets everyday then the child can make that decision as well?  

Also on the topic of what 1 Corinthians says about hair being a woman's glory. Paul is talking about how believers should look and behave in ways that are acceptable within their culture. Short hair was a sign of prostitution in Corinthian culture. He wasn't saying people should assimilate all cultural practices, but that believers should avoid appearance and behavior that could harm a person's credibility as a Christian. He wrote the letter to the Corinthians to help them live a Christian life in a corrupt society. Also the end of that section says "if anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice - nor do the churches of God." Meaning it wasn't strictly forbidden, they just didn't have any other practice.

I could probably sit here all day and add even more comments.  I was heartened to see that a lot of folks thought it was okay that Paige Lucas-Stannad let her daughter shave her head.  While I don't think things have changed for the better in terms of how kids are raised nowadays, I do think it's good that we're embracing different people more.  It may have seemed simpler when I was a kid and we didn't hear so much about things outside of the norm.  However, if you happen to be someone who is different trying to fit in with rigid societal norms, things aren't "normal" for you.  Growing up different can be hell.

At least kids today have the chance to be exposed and get used to people who don't fit into a certain group.  Perhaps they even develop some compassion for them.  Aellyn may not actually be "different" in terms of anything but having a shaved head right now, but this experience could turn out to give her a profound taste of empathy.  Or it may even teach other people that different isn't necessarily bad.  Green eggs and ham, anyone?



Incidentally, Dr. Seuss is Bill's ex wife's favorite author...  Too bad she didn't learn more from his wise tales.

When it comes down to it, in a world where we're constantly worried about which restrooms transgender people should be using, I think the decision to let a six year old shave her head is pretty small potatoes.  I'm sure this mom knows her daughter well and was able to predict how her daughter would react to her new look.  Kudos to Paige Lucas-Stannad for listening to her daughter, letting her make a choice about her appearance, and most of all, letting her be influenced by her father.  If it turns out Aellyn hates her look, she can always change it.  And yes, hair DOES grow back in most cases.

Link to original blog post that inspired Today.com's article.

2 comments:

  1. Paul was sexist, and his writing s reflected such. People often confuse what Paul wrote with what was in the gospels or what Jesus said. Big mistake. His thoughts about hair and crowning glory was just one more example of Paul's sexism. It's a bit weird, besides, as did women really wear short hair in Paul's time?

    i was close to cutting my hair and shaving my head the time mrs. Moore made a big deal about my messy hair in my school picture when I was almost ten. i don't think I would have been doing it for the right reasons, but it almost happened just the same.

    The one thing I might have encourage aellyn to do had I been her mom was maybe to wait for summer break, but in the end, i'm not sure what a parent should try to stop such a thing.

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    Replies
    1. It doesn't sound like anyone who knows her personally had a problem with her shaved head, anyway.

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