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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Before I cut my hair, it was my most prized possession. I know everyone feels something similar, but it was a feature I was confident about, something I could rely on, even fidget with when I was anxious. It was my favorite accessory, but it never really felt like me. I would spend hours styling it, and for most of my childhood I was perceived to be very feminine. I would come home after school and tuck it up into hats in my room, trying to imitate the look of short hair “just because I was curious.” I was too scared to take the risk and cut it all off, out of fear that I wouldn’t like it, or that it would ruin something I came to realize I relied so heavily on for my self esteem. Or that the people around me would see me differently. Nonetheless, the dream of short hair and the desire to be perceived closer to how I saw myself didn’t go away. 

For years, I spent a lot of time and money coloring my hair, trying to change up my look and then bleaching it again to satisfy the urge to look different somehow, but it was never enough. I realized that I was keeping my long hair around because it was what everyone expected of me, not because I really wanted it. Something I have experienced a lot as a nonbinary person is being expected to essentially “pick a side.” Will you be masculine or feminine? Will you have makeup and long hair or a fresh face? Growing up in a smaller, largely conservative town, I had no queer influences to look up to for guidance or inspiration, and leaned into femininity because it was easier to do than explain.

It took me a long time to become comfortable enough with my gender identity to tell others, and even longer to be comfortable finding ways to affirm that for myself. A large part of that was coming to college and meeting people who really respected and saw me for who I was, not what I was expected to be. It helped me find the words to describe how I felt, and the validation that I was allowed to feel that way. The day I cut my hair was such an exhilarating experience because it was the first time I felt such full autonomy over my own body. I had spent months scrolling through Pinterest looking for the perfect style and ways to deal with the grow-out process; I was prepared. I went to Great Clips with a friend who was there to support me the whole time, and the knowledge that I could make that decision for myself made me feel so powerful. 

I now realize that I don’t have to explain my choices to anyone, and I don’t owe others an explanation about things that make me feel good. Through cutting my hair, I have been able to explore a whole new range of styles, and have become so much more open to changing up my look. Beyond that, the idea that “it’s just hair” has so much more meaning now; I really KNOW that it will grow back, that everything can be fixed, and that honestly, I can pull off a lot. Most importantly, I no longer feel the attachment of other people’s opinions and expectations on my appearance. My vision is who I am. My decisions about myself are final and not up for debate. 

Since cutting my hair, I have shaved it in multiple places, continued to switch up the color, and it’s now getting long enough that I can do a few (short) updos. For me, this was about gender, but I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to break free from their attachment to their appearance and for anyone wanting to live their true selves authentically.

Alexis is currently a junior studying human biology at MSU. They enjoy longboarding, crochet, and experimenting with fashion when they aren't studying organic chemistry!