Paige Lucas-Stannard first hesitated when her six-year-old daughter, Aellyn, asked if she could shave off her hair. She told her daughter yes, hoping she’d forget about it later, but Aellyn kept talking about it, leaving her mother with a decision to make. Should she let her daughter shave her head? Ultimately, the choice became clear to Lucas-Stannard — of course, she would. It’s no secret that long hair is a symbol associated with both beauty and femininity, while very short hair is typically considered boyish and masculine. Lucas-Stannard is particularly well-versed on these gender stereotypes; she's the author of Gender Neutral Parenting, a book that helps parents recognize and discuss gender bias in parenting techniques. She also covers topics of feminism, raising children without conforming them to gender stereotypes, and natural living on her blog, Baby Dust Diaries.
Perhaps one of the most challenging stereotypes made about women and girls is that their beauty exists for others to consume. Lucas-Stannard explains on her blog that if she were to have convinced her daughter not to cut her hair, it would have sent the following message: That her appearance is important TO ME and that she exists for the consumption of others. That how others view her is more important than her internal voice, sense of adventure, and inherent value. That her decisions should be made based on external 'rules' and not her own sense of what is right or wrong for her. “We should encourage people to be true to themselves and who they feel they are authentically,” Lucas-Stannard continues. “Then, no energy would be spent crying over cut hair in a beautician’s chair. Energy that can be spent making the world a better place for all.”