Care and Feeding

I’m Afraid My Daughter’s New Haircut Will Make a Dangerous Political Statement

It’s not the buzz cut itself that’s the problem.

A person in a jean jacket holds a piece of their hair away from their head.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Photo by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My daughter is a strong, smart, confident girl. She mentioned getting a buzz cut recently, and although she’s always been allowed to wear whatever she wants, this gave me pause.

Not because I care what she does with her hair, but because she dresses in the modern way kids are doing grunge/punk from my generation, and I worry that with buzzed hair she’ll look like a skinhead. When I explained neo-Nazi punks to her she dismissed it as Nazis “appropriating” punk looks, and although I tried to explain, she was adamant that Nazis are the opposite of what punk and counterculture stand for and nobody would think she was one of them. With the rise of Nazis and fascism in the mainstream, I’m hoping you can tell me if the skinhead look is still a well-known thing, or if I’m just old and everyone thinks Nazis look like the Charlottesville college boys now. My friends my age understand what I mean without me having to explain, but she genuinely seemed surprised. I want her to be mindful of how she impacts the world and other people, which white kids especially don’t always have to be. Hopefully this is a silly question and I’m just old.

—Not As Post-Punk As We Could Be

Dear Post-Punk,

It’s not a silly question, but I think your daughter is right about this. Yes, there are people who will judge her for having a shaved head, but she knows that comes with the territory of living the punk lifestyle. Most of that judgment will come in the form of others thinking she’s “weird,” but I certainly don’t believe people will think she’s dangerous. Nowadays, dangerous white men look more like clean-cut Connor from the suburbs than a tatted-up skinhead.

I’m judged negatively due to being a Black man all the time, but at this stage of my life, I’ve proven so many people wrong that it has become second nature to me. However, it takes extremely thick skin to deal with that on a daily basis, and I hope your daughter is up for it, because not everyone can handle it. If your daughter is built for it, then she should use her inner confidence to display to the world that what’s inside her heart is what truly matters, and that the people who take the time to get to know her will be better off because of it. That’s how I go about my life.

That said, I’m glad you informed her of how some in older generations may conflate her looks with that of skinheads or Nazis, but I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal. Trust that you’ve raised a smart, thoughtful young adult who wants to express herself in her own way. She may receive some side-eyed glares from unenlightened people, but the ones who really matter will always have her back.


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