What Defines My Femininity?

In January 2020, I decided to shave off my 15-inch long 3B hair. 

Why?

Mostly because I like being uncomfortable and I wanted to put myself in a situation where I would be uncomfortable for a while and learn to grow from that situation. 

But it’s been a slightly difficult journey. Mostly because it’s been a hard time explaining to my very-Nepali family as to why I made that decision. 

The excuse I gave them was that I wanted to donate my hair. Which I did, but that wasn't the real reason.

I’ve been growing out my hair since the 6th grade and have been hiding behind it since. Almost everyone I was friends with in Nepal told me that my hair matched my personality. I let it grow and let it get frizzy as I hid behind it with my loud voice and my stubborn outlook in life. 

But then I realized I was always thinking back to stories from my childhood as well as things I’ve been told to do since I was young. 

1. Oil your hair so it grows long and healthy

2. Don’t talk back

3. Don’t sit with your legs wide open

4. Wear a skirt instead of pants

The list went on and on. 

4-year-old me with short hair and the incessant need to wear pants and be a boy made my teachers quiver in their saris.

Whenever I cried in school, my classmates needed to sing to me, “Nirdishtha is a boy, Nirdishtha is a boy,” so I’d quiet down. When I was home, I would pee standing up because I knew boys peed that way.

I didn’t realize that my femininity needed to be defined the day I was born. I just wanted to do what my uncles were doing. 

As I grew older, I was still more comfortable in jeans and a baggy shirt compared to skirts, but I had grown to love them. I still disliked the color pink but could appreciate little accents of it in things. 

So when I finally cut off all my hair, I felt the need to wear makeup and “girly” clothing to feel like a woman. I didn’t feel pretty really, just intrigued at the shape of my head.

But then I realized, I hadn’t worn makeup in almost 4 months and didn’t feel the need to start wearing it now. I still wore what I would normally wear, but I just didn’t have the protection of my hair to hide me or to add to my personality for me. 

I was told I was brave for shaving it all off and that I still looked pretty, even without hair. I smiled and thanked everyone who complimented me but I didn’t feel brave.

I don’t feel brave when I go around without my hair; I’m just existing. I don’t feel like I need to be complimented to ensure that I was still a woman, or that my femininity was still valid despite the fact that I didn’t have long, luscious locks.