long hair for boys?

by gurumommy on December 28, 2010

in hot topics

According to this recent NY Times article the ‘long hair skater boy’ look may be ‘cool’ to parents but  is anything but to many young boys.  Boys being mistaken for girls prompts many to beg for a haircut!  Hilary Stout writes:

KAZ CARTER-McGINTY was in the barber’s chair (a red one with a steering wheel) for the first time in his life on a recent Saturday morning. He is 2. Kaz’s hair, light brown and silky straight, fell almost to his shoulders in the back. The bangs in front had previously been cut by his mother, Miko McGinty, who now stood, camera in hand, giving instructions that are a familiar refrain to stylists at the shop, LuLu’s Cuts & Toys in Park Slope: “Keep it kind of long.”

In certain New York City neighborhoods (Park Slope, TriBeCa, Williamsburg, to name a few), you may have noticed a surge of little boys with long hair, contemporary Little Lord Fauntleroys or mini Mick Jaggers or tiny surfer/skater dudes, depending on the cultural reference of the adult observing them. (Two mothers interviewed for this article independently cited a Florence-Henderson-as-Carol-Brady shag when searching for a way to describe a particular cut sported by little boys they know.)

They are by no means a majority — ears and the back of the neck are still in prominent view on most little boys. But long (particularly long, layered and shaggy) is a look growing in popularity for the 8-and-under set.

“Everyone who is having babies today, or in the last five years, grew up in the 1970s listening to ’70s rock and they want their kid to look like their favorite rock star,” said Brigitte Prat, the owner of LuLu’s.

“I’d say that about 50 percent of the parents are asking for longer haircuts when it comes to boys,” said Stephanie Soltis, a stylist at Mini Max Toys & Cuts in Brooklyn Heights.

The look has been popular in Hollywood for a while. Ryder Robinson, 6, has tresses creeping toward his shoulders again after his mother, Kate Hudson, took him in for his first major haircut last April. Cindy Crawford’s 11-year-old son, Presley, has lustrous long golden locks. Gwyneth Paltrow’s son Moses, 4, had shoulder-length hair through much of toddlerhood, until he was shorn in Spain in 2009. Pax Jolie-Pitt, 7, had a similar long, straight ’do that seems to have been lopped off in recent photos.

For the cultivation of a small Samson is not without its complications.

Until a few months ago, Aimee Kellner’s 5-year-old son, Merce, had honey-blond curls that fell to the middle of his back. “I loved, loved, loved his hair,” said Ms. Kellner, a co-owner of a new line of clothing, Miha.

About six months ago, Merce rebelled. He told his parents he wanted to cut off his hair — too many people kept mistaking him for a girl. (His 7-year-old sister, whose hair was shorter than his, volunteered repeatedly that he looked like one.)

Ms. Kellner resisted. “His features are very masculine,” she said. Then she reluctantly relented. She agreed to a mohawk and described how she had watched with tears in her eyes as his golden hair fell to the floor.

“I loved his long hair, I thought it was really cool,” Ms. Kellner said, adding with impressive self-awareness: “It kind of fit with our family image. Or the image I had for our family.” She said she had resisted cutting it “until it clicked: ‘Hey, this is not my life. This is him.’ ”

And she’s learned to love the mohawk. “I’m kind of partial to those funky haircuts,” she said. “It was a my-little-boy-has-grown-into-a-big-man kind of experience.”

As any grown woman knows, a hairdresser has to be part shrink, and stylists who specialize in little children seem to be no exception. Ms. Prat said she’s consoled sobbing mothers who clearly don’t want their child to grow up (short hair makes little boys look older, everyone agrees). And she has observed balding men who may be wanting to live a little vicariously by keeping their son’s hair on the long side.

Might some parents be subconsciously trying to relive their own youth?

“Yes, absolutely, for sure!” Ms. Prat exclaimed.

Stylists can also be dragged into the crossfire when Mommy and Daddy have different ideas about length. “They say that couples always fight about taking out the garbage,” said Geraldine McKeon, a veteran children’s stylist who now works at LuLu’s. “I think it’s their child’s hair.”

The child, meanwhile, usually just wants what’s comfortable, Ms. McKeon said. She has many tales of little boys ruining the shaggy-to-the-chin look that their parents had in mind by grabbing a pair of scissors and chopping some bangs in front so they can see. She is called on to minimize the damage and neaten up the look.

Any parent of a long-haired boy will admit that gender confusion is an issue. Of course, they are an enlightened demographic who dismiss such concerns. “I think that most of the parents visiting our store strive to challenge gender roles at times and do not wish to stick to such strict definitions of what is gender-appropriate,” said Ms. Soltis of Mini Max Toys & Cuts.

But the kids’ antennae may be more sensitive. Zane Riemer, a third-grader in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, was “really into the whole long-haired skater boy look,” said his mother, Rukshinda Rivzi. But despite his mother’s urgings he didn’t “dare to” pull his shoulder-length locks into a ponytail, she said.

Just the other day Zane took a different tack to keep his hair out of his eyes (and make sure everyone realized he was a boy). He got a haircut.

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