Long hair on men is in. Maybe it’s because the beauty of the man bun continues to be appreciated. Maybe it’s because people aren’t comfortable going back to the barber yet. If it’s the latter, I had a head start; I just finished my 23rd month since my last haircut. Since May 2019, I’ve become a brother-in-law and uncle and COVID-19 entered our lives. And these same hairs that rest on my head have come with me the whole way.
When I was a first-semester sophomore, the newness of college was wearing thin. I was tired of the same old looks and needed a source of novelty. My hair was a part of my physicality and personality that I had yet to explore in length and depth. I figured this could be the best time in my life to rebel against inertia and take the long-haired risk.
I should take a moment to acknowledge the haters.
“I can’t speak to you if you have a man bun.”
“Do you want me to cut that for you?”
“Let’s sneak into his room with a pair of scissors while he’s sleeping.”
Look at me now!
Anyway, my friends assured me that they would not reduce me to man bun stereotypes (even when my family started to do so), and they’ve lived up to that promise.
Of course, the growth process wasn’t all smooth sailing. The infamous awkward in-between phase was not especially kind to me. I looked like a fool most of the time for no less than five months along the way, with stray hairs flapping off the sides of my head like wings. I got used to that look, but my extended family continues to be noticeably confused every time they see me.
As my hair got more tangled and seemed to shed more quickly, I learned that conditioner is my friend, even though I didn’t know what it was until I was well into high school. Taking care of luscious locks is no small task, and my respect for people who maintain long hair and manage to take good care of it has skyrocketed. Props to you all.
Now that my hair is long, I get to reap the benefits. Most days, I think the bun genuinely looks good. I also appreciate the versatility and agency that the length gives me; I can wear it up or down, with a baseball cap or with a bandana. I’m no longer confined to the boyish look I’ve had for most of my life.
I’m still uncomfortable wearing my hair down most of the time, though. Part of it is convenience; I can’t eat a bowl of cereal or brush my teeth or play pickleball with my hair flying around all willy-nilly. A different part of my discomfort comes from the same reason that one of my friends isn’t fond of naked parties; my hair is a gift, only to be shared with intimate eyes. I’m not showing this mane to just anyone. Something about the luscious majesty is special. It feels right for my chill vibes.
The world as I know it has changed a lot this year, and my hair has changed along with it. My hair has given me a sense of discovery and boldness. It’s forced me to adapt to frequent change in how I look, how I choose to present myself and how I need to care for myself.
I have a recurring dream that goes something like this: I see myself in a mirror, I get a haircut, I go home, I cry in the dream world and I wake up with watery eyes and a tear-stained face. But it’s nearing the time for my hairs to be cut. I’ll have to get over it, even if it feels like I’m going to lose part of my personality. I’m not over having long hair, but I am over having hair that’s this long. It’s starting to feel like I’m just growing it out because of inertia, which is exactly what I wanted to escape in the first place. Maybe a haircut is all I need to reach the exit velocity required to escape from my hair growth orbit.
Jonathan Jalbert | email@example.com