[Random] Thoughts,  Black[ness],  Queer[ness]

“too butch.”

content warning: homophobia, mention of sexual violence

as the clock counts down to me sitting in a hairstylist’s chair to get my hair chopped off—a clock that started its countdown years ago in my head, but has only recently been given a definitive calendar date of May 18th, 2019—i’ve on-and-off made an effort to help my mom ‘get over it.’

not that i give a damn what she thinks of my hair, mind you, but i’ve got a point to hammer home with her and i’m a persistent fuck. this same woman, who was set against me locing my hair, to begin with, has in recent years been vocally against me doing away with it in favor of very short natural hair. in spite of my lack of fucks to give, her hair insecurity—in the present and throughout my childhood—does piss me off.

but i digress; that is a topic to delve into another time.

[but] you[‘ll] look like a boy.

– my mom, since forever

in my eagerness to be free of my locs, i’ve been accumulating photos of hairstyles that i like for years now. it’s only recently that i gave into the pressure put upon me via Google image searches & Pinterest to create an account on the latter site and start a ‘board’ or collection of inspirational hair photos. it’s been really helpful for me both in terms of organization and visualization, but this past weekend it came in handy as a functional link to give to my mom as clarification, visualization of what i had in mind when i said that i was going to go “short”.

time to push the envelope a step further.

twenty minutes of hair banter later, so far, so good! over a year of repeatedly throwing the idea of me having short natural hair at her had successfully afforded me our longest discussion of hair without a conversation killers yet!

pointing out specific photos of styles that i’m currently leaning towards, but still undecided on, i decided to solicit her opinion on them specifically. one thing lead to another and we ended up navigating away from my Pinterest board to the Instagram of the specialist salon that i have an appointment with, Mr. Naturalz. it’s when i brought her attention to this photo, in particular, is when the inspiration for this post—yet another in an ongoing series of awkward conversations—took place.

[ DESCRIPTION: screenshot of an Instagram post showing a side shot of a black person with a short, tapered cut on natural hair posted on @mrnaturalz Instagram. ]

“what do you think of this one?”, i asked before verbally describing the picture to her, effectively directing her attention away from a hairstyle that she liked, but that i had zero interest in. once she’d found the picture in question, it took her all of a second to respond.

“i don’t like that one.”

“wha, why?” i asked, genuinely confused. we’d looked at so many short hairstyles in the past twenty minutes that i saw no particular reason for her to straight up reject this one, which wasn’t all that different from the others in my mind. “it’s super simple and na—”

“it’s too butch.”

“too ‘butch’??” i repeated, incredulously, although she didn’t seem to notice. she had already moved on, suggesting a different photo for me to look at, but i couldn’t move on without knowing.

“wait, wait, hold up—you said ‘butch’. how do you, of all people, know that word?” i mean, seriously. how the hell did my Christian minister of mom know that word while being seemingly oblivious to everything else LGBT??

she scoffed at my surprise. “college. i was young too once, you know.”

yeah, but that didn’t really answer my question. “but why? how did you come in contact with that word in college? in what situation? under what circumstances??” GIVE ME DETAILS, WOMAN!

she seemed to brush off my questions, randomly commenting on other things, until she finally answered, knowing that i wasn’t going to let up until she did.”

“the warned us about the dykes and the butches—”

“warned you??” ogod.

“—yes, warned us. in the dorms.”

“seriously??” i said in disbelief, except… not really.

“what? it was the 70’s. that’s the kind of language that people used back then.” she added defensively.

“i’m not offended by the language, just the context. why did anyone feel the need to warn students about dykes and butches in dorms??” i could venture a guess, but i don’t want to assume. i need to hear you say it. i need to know your internalized context for this word.

“what? you think girls didn’t get raped in the dorm showers??” she said all too matter of factly. ogod.

“…the hell?”

“showers then weren’t like showers now. they were six stalls to a room—”

“we still have changing rooms & locker room these days, mom, and that’s beside the point—”

“—there weren’t any curtains! anyone could see you, there was no privacy,” she said, again defensively.

but as far as i was concerned, that conversation was over and i let her know as much. knowing my mom and knowing me, if we delved into it any further than that, i’d get pissed off, which means that i’d get snappy with her, which wouldn’t have helped anyone or anything, so The End.

to me, the photo that started the conversation was simply another photo of someone with a short hair cut; one that had warranted no cause for pause before drawing my knowingly homophobic mom’s attention to it.

to my mom, there was something about the photo—or rather, the person in the photo—that distinguished what she saw in it from what she saw in others. the person’s attire? their face? the absence of “female-coded” accents in their self-expression?

i don’t especially care.

as reluctant as i am to admit it, knowing that something about that particular hairstyle—in addition to whatever else—read “BUTCH” to my mom… adds to the style’s appeal for me?


you’d think i was a teenager rebelling against a parent rather than a decades-past-teenager rebelling against The World…

…simply by doing whatever the fuck i want with the hair that grows naturally out of my head– fucking anti-black, binarist beauty standards.

YouTuber and Blogger, Vesper is an American expat currently living in Japan.


  • aceadmiral

    Is there a particular look on your pinterest board you’re leaning towards? They’re all pretty sweet, but I imagine ones with lines or colors require a lot of time and maintenance…

    • Vesper H.

      i’m reallllly struggling to narrow down my decision. i do know that i won’t be coloring my hair, doing any linework or anything like that as the ultimate goal is for the trip to the salon to be a launching point for me to learn to maintain my hair myself. to be honest, i’m seriously tempted to buzz all of it really low (if not off entirely) out of choice overload / decision paralysis… that and the style in the post aside, though, i’m also considering [ this ] and [ this ], but at this point your guess is as good as mine as to what i’ll end up going with.

      still thinking about hair yourself…?

      • aceadmiral

        I suppose you could do choice 2, and then if you don’t like it, buzz it off to choice 1? (I don’t know how long your hair takes to grow, but I’ve had friends before who complain that it takes forever?). But if you’re looking for instruction on how to take care of your hair, I’ve kind of fallen into curly-hair YouTube (I can’t explain it; my hair is stick straight lol), but there seem to be a whole bunch of really good resources! I shared them with my brother’s fiancee and she said so anyway… (why am I telling you this I’m sure you already know)

        I was actually thinking about long hair more in a general sense in that I haven’t been to a salon in *checks notes* ten years (+I’ve been steadily growing it out since I was 5), and a lot of people in my life get on my case because 1) it’s so unruly and I don’t really know how to take care/style of it (where is straight-hair youtube, please, someone, tell me the keywords), I therefore wear wigs basically every day, so it’s a lot of work to maintain for basically no reward (unless it is time to go to the Renn Faire or be Sailor Moon), but more germane-ly to a conversation with you 2) It kind of… clashes with my whole aesthetic. Like, even my gender-expression-resistant dad keeps asking me why I don’t just cut it all off, and I can’t account for why not at all. So, even though our hair situations are different, as a fellow long-term-long-hair-haver, I was wondering what your thoughts/feelings were on the subject and if you had any whys or wherefores.

        • Vesper H.

          i might try that (second style first, first style if i don’t like the second)…. decisions are the bane of my existence, i swear. but yeah, black natural hair YouTube totally has my back in terms of resources, thankfully. i wish i had keywords to suggest to you for straight, long hair…. surely it’s out there? hmm….

          on the topic of long hair, aesthetics, styles & feels… yeaaahhhh…. i’ve been conflicted about my long hair and my aesthetic for a long time. even more so, i feel, because of my hair being loc’d (as opposed to loose) and how t.h.e.o.r.e.t.i.c.a.l.l.y. loc’s, regardless of length, are considered to be a unisex hairstyle, and yet especially after being on T for a while and my voice lowering as a result of that, it has felt like my hair is the biggest factor in people continuing to assume i’m female….

          unfortunately, black natural hair YouTube hasn’t really been very helpful for me in styling my locs as no one on there has locs as long as mine / are interested in doing the kinds of styles that might interest me….. so i’ve mostely been on my own in that regard. but long locs are more versitile than long loose straight hair, i imagine (although they rule out wigs as an option)….. and people’s offhanded comments of “why don’t you just cut it??”– god, that really fucking annoys me.

          …..i have a lot of hair feels and a hair related video/post that i’d like to get out sooner than later, although i’m not sure it’d touch on your situation at all…. but yeah.


          such a pain in the ass.

          • aceadmiral

            You know, I was trying to think if I’d ever seen a man with locs past his shoulders, and now that I think of it, I did know a guy who had them down to mid-back—and he did The Thing! Oh, The Thing.

            So, have you noticed that 95% of men with long hair wear it half up? And like… it’s perfectly “masculine”? Now granted, basically all of these men also have beards but… I know what I look like when I do that, and it’s not masculine. There’s gotta be… some trick to it…. I mean, maybe it is the beard, and I’m just shut out of it (like sideburns ;_;), but gosh. Why do they all do that, and why does it *work*?

            But yeah, I totally hear you on all of these things and I look forward to seeing your video on the subject!

          • Vesper H.

            i have noticed that a lot of men do tend to not wear their long(er) hair down without some modification to it, but 95%…? hmmm…

            either way, that ‘strategy’ doesn’t work on me either, so you’re not alone. i’m pretty sure that it works so well for men because of other ”contextual clues” that they intentionally use to offset a hairstyle that some would otherwise see as emasculating them, ie. facial hair, tattoos, bodybuilding, posturing, etc. women with very short hair / shaved heads do the same thing in reverse, imho, as can be seen in my Pintrest board. they intentionally wear big earrings, put extra effort into doing their makeup, dress extra femme to offset a hairstyle that some would otherwise see as masculinizing them….

  • aceadmiral

    ((ohhhhh my goshhhhh this man is making me so mad right now. is it the backwards baseball cap? because that’s really outside my aesthetic but maybe that’s what I have to do since youtube decided to murder me by suggesting this video [It also suggested a channel called “Fabulous 50s” which is a make up channel for “mature” women so I guess what this really is is a victory over the algorithm. Age? Gender? Race? Who wants to know (ง’̀-‘́)ง???]))

    • Vesper H.

      ((oohhh, hats. accessories, yaasss. baseball caps can fuck off, but i’m going to really miss wearing my assortment of hats if they stop…. ‘working’ post-chop. i really do think that the ‘right’ style of hat (for you) might at least give your aesthetic a little push towards androgyny, if nothing else?))

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