A Word on Lesbian Hair...

The other day I was filling out yet another FaceBook questionnaire when I ran across the following question:

"15. Do you like your hair?"

This inspired me to begin a whole blog, because the topic is actually quite broad when asked of a lesbian who is not of the L Word variety.  Heck, for all I know, it’s a broad topic when it is asked of an L Word variety lesbian.  But I’m not one, and I’ve noticed an extreme deficiency among social commentaries from my end of the block when regarding lesbian hair.

Oddly, there is no shortage whatsoever coming from heterosexual and gay men on the subject, at least according to Google.  This I find ironic and ridiculous, since no man – gay or straight – has any personal experience whatsoever in walking through the world as a lesbian of any kind, regardless of what some of them might say, and certainly not as a lesbian with hair.


So I’ll begin this new Lesbian Hair Blog (sounds like its own cut) with an abbreviated version of an email I sent in search of a new hair stylist after spending approx eight years of my life cutting my own hair out of the pure frustration and emotional distress of having to deal with wearing other people’s ideas of what I should look like on my head (certain specifics have been altered to protect the innocent and personal privacy):

‘From: XXXXXXXXX@aol.com
To: info@XXXXXXXXXXX.com
Sent: 9/14/2008 3:40:18 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: haircut appt - from Kate West


I'm Kate, and I'm looking for some information on your salon.  I was searching on the web for places for people like me to get a good haircut...

My self expression is far more in the world of Ellen than Angelina Jolie - this has been a problem for me forever in terms of finding a good stylist/artist to help me with professional haircuts.  For the last several years, I've just used clippers at home because I got tired of paying for haircuts and then going home and "fixing" them to avoid looking like somebody other than who I am when I look in the mirror.  That's not to say that I prefer a buzz cut, more to say that I prefer a buzz cut over a costume 'do.  

However, what I'd really like is a professional haircut by a skilled individual who knows how to match style with personality.  And no, that doesn't mean I want a "mullet" or a "flat-top," LOL! 

Though I have done the crew-do with spikes, and though I received many compliments on that look; and though I did have a mullet in 1985 (so did Mel Gibson - what are ya gonna do...) - it's time for me to quit hacking away at my own hair:  I'm going to my brother's wedding next week, and have let my hair grow in anticipation of a real cut. 

However, maybe this email sheds a little light on why so many women in my community are walking around with bad hair... 

Okay, you win.  Horrendous hair.

But just like anyone else, it can be humiliating and shaming to leave a salon with the wrong culture carved upon your head like a beacon shouting "I don't fit!"  As every human being knows, we all have to deal with that enough one way or another in our lives.  Add that to girl culture - and I don't care what kind of girl you are - suddenly locking yourself in the bathroom with a pair of scissors seems like a frighteningly sane idea.

Now, I realize that most people would never send an email with this much information regarding a simple haircut.  But, as you know, the only truly "simple" haircuts are the ones done at home - NEVER a good plan, but sometimes the only emotionally sustainable alternative.  The way I see it now, the more I communicate with a professional, the better the professional can find a good match for me.  That's why I didn't just walk-in.  I'm offering you an honest profile, and I'm trusting your professional judgment. 

Here are some fun facts about me:

I'm going to my brother's casual wedding on the beach in a week, and have been asked to offer a toast.  I'm a 39 year old writer who has made a living as a kitchen & bath designer.  I give you my age because I know that helps with context for some.  I've also spent a little time in the shop doing woodworking and cabinet making.  While I can design a fabulous kitchen or master bath suite, I'm not skilled in the hair maintenance department at all.  Even if I were, I'm not the type of person to spend a lot of time in front of a mirror.  The last time I wore a dress was around 1992, and I've no plans to go that route again.  So there it is.  I'm putting myself in your hands in the hopes of building a new and beautiful relationship with a great stylist...


Kate West’


"Roger," we'll call him, called me back the next morning with a wonderful attitude.  He spoke with me for a good half hour, and I felt like I'd finally found someone who would listen, who would appropriately evaluate, and who knew the ropes of Lesbian Hair.  (No pun intended.)  He asked me how it felt to walk into a new hair salon the first time.  I told him the truth:  usually whoever is at the receptionist's desk eyes me up and down with a look of startled horror on his/her face, and immediately hands me a book with a bunch of crazy women's hair styles in it - none of which I've ever actually seen on any regular woman walking around in the world. He laughed, understanding, and reassured me that I would feel welcome in his salon.  

So I went.  

And the receptionist was extremely welcoming and treated me very well, indeed.  And then he handed me one of those books with a bunch of crazy women's hair styles in it - none of which I've ever actually seen on any regular woman walking around in the world.  

In spite of that little detail, I decided to stay and see what would happen.  The receptionist, after all, was not Roger, and had not shared our conversation. So I decided to give Roger three chances, recognizing that a first cut is not necessarily a reflection of the potential stylist/client relationship that can be built between a good stylist and his or her, well, clients. I also know that my hair is not easy, as it's full of weird cowlicks and random undercurrents of kinky, coarse black stuff (apparently, that's my personal genetic answer to grey - looks more to me like somebody been dippin' up in the family tree, but...)  - and great stuff like that.

So, the first time Roger cut my hair, he gave me Ellen’s actual haircut.

That was not a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong - Ellen’s hair is fabulous.

On Ellen.

I am not Ellen.

Nor do I look like Ellen.

Nor will I ever.  Look.  Like Ellen.

God bless her, 'cause if I do look that good at her age, I'll be prayin' thanks, and you can believe that!

But I look more like Starbuck, or Rachel Maddow lounging in her living room (not at work) - and I'm talking clothing & presence, not actual facial appearance here.  I'm talking, when I walk in the room, nobody thinks I've got a boyfriend - even though Leah DeLaria does make me look like a ballerina.  

I only used Ellen in my email as a safely humorous way to say, “I’m an openly gay woman, and don’t want to look like Angelina Jolie when I leave your salon.”

I was not trying to say, “I’m an openly gay woman, and, as you know, we all want to look like Ellen clones.”

Let it be known that I was also not trying to say, “I am an openly gay woman, and none of us look like Angelina Jolie.”

Thank the good Lord that some of us do!  I can certainly appreciate that fact.  I just don’t happen to be one of them.  Fortunately for me, even though the tides of time are changing in that department, there have been a few women in my life who looked enough like Angelina Jolie and who have enjoyed my attention, that I am not about to go around 'dissing Angelina Jolie in the Lesbian Community. No worries there.  

Oh wait.  That's a whole other blog....

Anyway, I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d said K.D. Lang in that email instead of Ellen … might have at least ended up with a haircut that was closer to my actual personality…

So there I was with Ellen's haircut, heading off to my brother's wedding, wispy, fluffy, windblown locks and all.  Being that I wasn’t born and raised in Los Angeles, home of the windblown hair cut, I have no desire to look like my head is stuck in a wind tunnel – unless my head actually is stuck in a wind tunnel – but not while standing in the living room, and definitely not at my brother's wedding.

But I promised myself I'd be fair to Roger, and gave him two more chances.  Roger gave me two mediocre cuts, both with the fluffy wind-tunnel back, the third with a puffy top and a shape that was a frighteningly close cousin to a mullet.

...Apparently, one reason why so many lesbians have mullets in this day and age is the failure of gay male hairstylists to refrain from stereotyping their own sisters into the mullet box.  This means that even those of us who try to present ourselves with decent hair have no chance because the so called “experts” in the field of hair continue to assume that,

if we don’t want the poof factor on top, we must want the mullet.

Might be time to burn another bra in an effort to break the glass windblown mullet poof ceiling.



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