I’ve been talking about my hair with a lot of people recently, because I have been travelling and meeting people a lot (as well as doing essays but lol YOLO that’s what train journeys are for right?). A lot of these conversations have revolved around the fact that I’m now different because I shaved my head and have done something that some people will never do or experience. Now, I’m “not like other girls.”
And yes, this is true, I am not like other girls because I am not like any girls because I am only like me since there is only one me, right? Which means that everyone is not like other girls.
But it’s not meant like that. It’s meant as a compliment. And I kinda don’t understand why.
This “compliment” puts down other girls, and puts me above them. The sentiment implies that there is something inherently wrong with girls, and that by being different from them I’m better. Choosing to shave my head hasn’t put me above anyone. Nothing I do puts me above people. The same applies for “not like other boys”, “not like other students”, “not like other (insert group stereotype here).” So it’s not a compliment. It’s a backhanded criticism. And it’s a sentiment that has crept into everyday thinking.
I think the idea ultimately stems from wanting to celebrate diversity and being different, which is definitely a good thing. However, this can celebrated without stereotyping everyone else and putting them down, right?
We are all different and that’s the point. No two people on the planet are exactly the same and that’s the beauty of it. We are all human which unites us, and beyond that we are all different. There shouldn’t be any categories, any stereotyping, any assumptions of anyone because if we are all different then none of those categories, stereotypes or assumptions can be true.
We are all the same, in the fact that we are all different. And we are equal in the fact that we will never be the same. Therefore, we are all united.
Judgement comes so easily. It’s so much easier to judge someone and move on, than to bother thinking about who that person is and what their story might be. I’ve realised that even assuming that people are judging me, is me judging them for being judgemental. Judgement dehumanises myself and others. It places me on a pedestal, and others below me, leaving me with a warped view of humanity. Judgement based on worthless differences, PARTICULARLY about the way that we look, are the root cause of so many problems in this world.
I have never really felt like I was on the outside of anything. If anything, due to my upbringing, I’ve always been a kind of chameleon who is able to morph until I fit in anywhere. Thus, the feeling that of being an “outsider” because of my “different” hair has been completely new for me (even if it was just a perceived difference and outside-ness). Feeling this has made me realise that it’s just as easy to judge from the outside looking in, as it is from the inside looking out. It’s a lot easier to be defensive when you feel different, ready to pounce on anyone who you have perceived to have judged you. Or in my case, ready to explain that this isn’t really my hair, I don’t usually look like this and hey, it was for a good cause I promise! But people aren’t judging me, and even if they are, does that mean that I should therefore judge them? As the old saying (that my dad was always so fond of telling my brother when we were fighting) goes- two wrongs don’t make a right. The cycle of judgement that I so swiftly created for myself is completely ridiculous.
I realised that rather than being defensive or ready to judge back, I should be focusing on being loving. I don’t need to justify the way I look, because in justifying it I am acknowledging the judgement. I need to focus on being loving and engaging in conversations about how awesome it is that we all look different. Focusing on love automatically makes me less judgemental, and makes me assume the best of people rather than the worst.
I genuinely feel that I’m already less judgemental and more welcoming. I’m more open and attentive to what people have to say, rather than approaching conversations with me pre-conceived judgements. I once read about a person who didn’t overlook the differences in people, but that he just didn’t know that they were there. Imagine what a blessing that is. That’s what I aspire to. To be so incredibly loving, that I don’t even see the differences between people, I just see everyone as another person with whom to share my love.