Light, Naked, Vulnerable

I’m doing it. Yes, I am. There’s no going back. That’s it; the boy-cut Mom used to give us was coming back. Remember when we lived in Vietnam and she always cut our hair short so we can run around like crazy boys? I look back the old pictures now and laugh at our innocent selves, completely naive to the way girls should look.

Then, we moved to the United States…but she kept giving me the same haircut. The kids at school did not look like me. The girls had long braids and flowing pigtails. No one else looked like a boy, except the boys. I hated it. Gosh, every time she took me to the barber shop, the tears came streaming down and the screams grew barbaric. Why, why couldn’t she stop; why couldn’t she understand? It’s already hard to make friends with the language and cultural barriers; why did she feel the need to make me a bigger outcast? Yet, she was relentless, chanting the chorus of “shorter, shorter” amidst my unceasing yelps. With the fall of every strand of hair, my face reddened; my arms flailed even harder but she wouldn’t stop.


One week ago, I walked into the barber shop alone. I showed the man the picture of my five-year old self. I then calmly walked into the seat. He wrapped the cloth around and snip



The strands of hair fell. I felt calm. Snip.

More hair fell.


I was still calm.

I looked up. I saw the five-year old Aitran in the mirror. I smiled, thanked the man, and walked out. As I breathed in the fresh air, I felt light, naked, and vulnerable, like the five-year me. I felt good. I felt accepted. I felt ready for Ecuador.