When I was in third form I used to favour wearing my hair a particular way. It was center parted and then tied back into half pony tails. I did this for a couple of reasons; my mum had always done my hair this way, I was growing out a fringe and this meant I could tie the shorter bits back and someone had once commented I had a long skinny neck and wearing the back of my hair out helped with my self consciousness on that issue.
One day a friend and I got into a disagreement. I’m not sure who threw the first ‘punch’ but as 13 year olds our Arsenal was limited and I told her her fringe was stupid and she told me my hair made me look like baby spice. You’ll have to rewind to being a 13 yr old in the year 2000 to understand this was highly insulting. The spice girls were no longer cool. I was mortified and I never wore my hair that way again.
The feeling of that one comment as trivial as it was is something you don’t forget. It was essentially a strike at my appearance and in hindsight my comment to my friend had similar repercussions because I can recall she wore her fringe clipped to the side for the few weeks to follow. We never admitted to one another the hurt we had caused each other and as girls do our fight was quickly forgotten however the fall out was not because whether it was a conscious decision or not we both proceeded to change our appearance after that.
This morning Miss asked me to tie her hair up in two pigtails, infact she also wore her hair that way yesterday. This morning when I walked her to class however a girl from another class commented that ‘pigtails are so dumb’ as we walked passed. The comment was not said directly to Miss but there was no one else with pigtails around in that moment, the direction was obvious to Miss and myself. I had to contain my potty mouth as I was taken back to my hurt 13 yr old self and felt my heart plunge as Miss looked up at me. Once in class Miss asked me to take her hair out and change it to a pony tail. This was not a time to argue that she stand her ground and that her pig tails were fine, this was a time of silent commiseration as I took her hair out of the hair ties and redid it into one. This was a time for me to hug her and reply ok as she told me she will never wear pigtails again.
The point of my ramblings and the question I ask is this, why is it so ingrained in girls even at such a young age to comment on and attack another’s appearance? Why is it so easy for us at any age to pass judgement on another for how they look, dress or present themselves with no thought of the impact of our commentary?
I was raised not to be so callous yet as a 13 yr old girl it was my first call of defense despite having been subjected to it personally myself. How can we teach our girls to see past the outside and to encourage them to support and love the inner beauty of a fellow sister?