Why does everyone care so much about boys with long hair?

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

Little boys with long hair is a divisive issue, which may strike you as strange, because there aren't that many of them around.

But for some reason, lots of people have an opinion on the topic.

Take Katie from Melbourne as an example. She's a mum of a seven-year-old boy who has yet to have his first haircut. Alex rocks a ponytail that reaches the middle of his back, and he loves it, but Katie says she hears other people's opinions on it regularly.

"My mother-in-law is horrified by Alex's hair," Katie says. "I hear about it every time we see her – which is at least once a month.

She's very passive-aggressive about it, so rather than asking me why we haven't cut Alex's hair, she'll just say directly to him but so I can hear: 'Do you still have that long hair? Why do you parents want you to look like a little girl?'

"It makes my blood boil, but I'm leaving it to my husband to handle her – I don't trust myself to keep things nice."

When it comes to strangers, Katie is more forthright, telling them that she allows Alex to make his own decisions when it comes to his body, and that he's very happy – and then she thanks them firmly for minding their own business. 

"I made the decision early on that I wanted to offer Alex the respect of making his own decisions when it comes to his body, so letting his hair grow was just one way to do that," she says.

"There's no health or safety reason for a child to cut their hair. He wears it up neatly for school, and he's happy for now. I really don't see why anyone else is so interested. And as soon as Alex says he wants it cut, that's what we'll do."

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Gold Coast mum Shelly says her son Axel was four when he told her he wanted to grow it. 

"Axel's dad has long hair, so it wasn't a huge surprise that he thought that was pretty cool," she says.

"I had no reservations about letting him grow his hair myself, but I was aware that he might be judged a certain way by some people in the community."

Shelly says she let Axel's hair grow to around his shoulders, thinking he'd soon get sick of it, but he didn't.

"That's around when he was starting school, so I checked with them that they were okay, which they were, and I talked to him about what people might think and he was totally prepared to deal with that.

"I figured if worse came to worst, we could cut it any time."

Shelly says Axel, who is now six, sometimes gets comments from strangers about being a pretty little girl, but he's comfortable correcting them.

"He sets them straight pretty quickly," Shelly laughs. "He thanks them for saying he's pretty but that he's happy being a pretty boy."

Shelly says she's happy to let Axel challenge old outdated community standards.

"That whole idea that boys should look a certain way is so old-fashioned," she says. "I'm really proud of Axel for being himself, and I hope he continues to challenge expectations and walk to the beat of his own drum."

As for those who think little boys should have short hair, Axel has the best advice: 

"Why don't they just choose how they want their hair and let me choose mine?"