In the last 2 weeks, I have been mistaken for a man four times. Four times! Okay so the first time was by a young boy so I will let that one pass. The second and third, by people on my Instagram account. They thought that a picture of me and my husband riding bicycles was a picture of a same sex couple. You can take a look at the Instagram picture here.
The fourth time, a vendor in my new neighbourhood. I walked in to his shop pushing my infant in a stroller, he looked up briefly and addressed me as ‘sir’. I Did a quick scan behind me just to be sure. Yap! He was addressing me. I responded and waited for him to realise his mistake and address me correctly but nothing. Sure my voice was raspy from a case of laryngitis but I did not think I sounded like a man. So with a little annoyance in my voice, I said something else, and then he looked up for more than two seconds and laughed. ‘I am sorry’ he said. ‘I thought you were a man. The short hair threw me off.’ After a slight scoff I asked him, ‘you based my gender just on my short hair?’. ‘Well, you don’t see that many women with short hair’, He said. ‘You need to get out more sir’ was my answer. After a short laugh, we engaged in more conversation. He wanted to know if my short hair was because of some tradition or custom. I explained that it was purely a matter of choice. I wear my hair short because it suits my lifestyle. I went on to explain that where I come from, women wear their hair many different ways, long, short, curly, straight, braided and the options are endless. I explained that our hair does not define us and its merely an accessory. As he handed me my change, he told me that I wear my short hair well but he still prefers his women with long hair. I smiled, aware that my infant was getting restless in her stroller and I had limited time to finish my errands.
As I walked away, I could not help but find India Aries song ‘I am not my hair’ on my playlist and rock to it all the way home. However you wear your hair, here is a video of India Arie reminding us that we are more than meets the eye. Have you been mistaken for a different gender because of the way you wear your hair? how do you deal with it? I would love to hear your comments and stories.