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I’ve been growing my hair longer for quite some time: My goal is to reach my elbows. I like the aesthetics of having long hair, and since my hair is really thick, I like the weight that I get on my head from it, much more fun to swing my head around with long hair.

I didn’t think that my hair would be such a big deal to other people, but since the growth is noticeable from the time that I wore it super-short, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments for growing it out. At least seven people have told me I look much better now, and my dear sister even called my old hairstyle my ” butch dyke look”. I also get much less offensive and colourful compliments telling me how much prettier I look with this hair.

But that all vanishes when I discuss my plans to grow it longer, to elbow length. The compliments change into horrified gasps and warnings to not do that. I’ve been admonished that at that length, I would look like a “hippie chick”, that I would look twice my age, that my hair would make me look heavier, and that I’d just look like a gypsy.

This has me very confused and bewildered. Is there some secret society that dictates the length which women must have their hair at in order to be accepted by the mainstream? I really don’t get why my long-ish hair would be considered so much more radical than the medium length I have it at now, or why my short convenient cut was considered such an object of ridicule (Only after I got rid of it, I might add, my sister and mother just gave pained smiles when I first came home with it)

I’m not letting it bother me, and I intend to go through with my growth plan, but the fact that the length of someone’s hair apparently says something about them (“Butch Lesbian” versus “You’ll look like a hippie!”) more than their actual, you know, words and actions, continues to baffle me.