Spotlight on South

Robin Woitesek, guest columnist

Twelve inches. In my freshman year I cut off twelve inches of my hair and never in my life had a number meant so much. It’s amazing how changing one part of yourself makes the world look at you in a new way.  “Why is it so short? You look like a boy.” I was beginning to think I had made a mistake. These questions resonated with me, and the world around me changed.

I went out with my mom and my sister for dinner. I sat on one side of the booth and my mom and sister sat on the other. One of the waiters came to take our order. He turned to my mom and sister and said, “Good evening ladies…” He turned to me, “and gentleman.” My heart sank. This was the first time I was mistaken for a boy and I was shocked. Once he left I asked my mom if she heard what he said. She responded with, “Yes and I think he called you sir because it’s dark, you don’t wear any makeup, you have short hair, and you don’t look very feminine…”

That one word stuck out to me. Feminine. I never thought of myself as “feminine” or “non-feminine,” I was just always me. I bought clothing from both the men and women’s section and I never gave anything like that much thought. Now it became the only thing that was important to me. I tried to look more feminine by wearing tight clothing, changing my hairstyle, wearing makeup, but nothing worked. I fell into despair and I began to see myself as ugly. This was a dark time for me. I only saw what they saw, the ‘ugly’ appearance and not the person inside, and the short brown hair that I was at first so excited to unveil to the world became the part of me that I resented the most.

Throughout the years my hair went through many different phases; the bowl cut, Justin Bieber hair, hairband, no hairband, pixie and finally I decided to dye my hair. Once I dyed my hair everything changed. I no longer resented the way I looked anymore because that crimson color drowned out everyone’s criticism and the hatred I felt for myself. I grew to love myself again and I felt even more free to express myself. I even cut my hair again and got an undercut which I absolutely love and would never take back.      

This story isn’t supposed to make you feel sorry for me, but instead serve as a lesson that has been taught for decades and yet has to be taught over and over again. I know there are those who focus solely on their appearance and to that I want to say, you are more than what others think. You are more than what the mirror reflects back at you. Once I realized that I was more confident and fun to be around. I didn’t care what others thought about me and it’s helped me be the proud weirdo I was meant to be. As Lady Gaga once said, “I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.”