By Stephania Silveira Hines
I've lost count of the number of visitors who commented on my hair since I gave birth. Whenever they see my exhausted face and the powdery traces of dry shampoo on my oily scalp, they can't help but say:
"Wouldn't it be easier if you had a haircut?"
It's not just my friends. As I browse the web for some tips on what to do when the baby poops green, I'm bombarded with articles showing hairstyles for mums. And none of them is past shoulder length. The internet is also begging for me to chop my hair off.
As a sign of protest against this unwanted piece of advice, my hair has never been longer.
My baby won't steal the last bit of my identity.
Being a mother already ruined my wardrobe with the dull nursing dresses and giant knickers. It made me give up my nightlife of wine and fun conversations with friends. It made me forget my '100 places to visit before I die' list, my Saturday afternoons at the beauty parlour having mani-pedi, my five minutes of peace looking at my phone in bed, my date nights at the cinema. It made me cancel my dance lessons, my therapy sessions, my writing courses. It replaced my minimal decor with colourful baby mats and chewy toys. It broke my bank account. It made me turn down a dream job. It made me RSVP 'NO' to a friend's wedding. It made me miss my dad's funeral. It ruined every single one of my meals so far. It has deprived me of sleeping more than four hours for the last five months.
If I cut my long hair, I'd also be cutting off what's left of my personality.
The only time I cut my hair short was when I was dating a Brazilian guy who spent most of the time comparing me to his ex-girlfriend, who was a supermodel. He kept telling me that I was not as fit as she was. He mentioned he loved her short hair, and so I went there and cut it off.
As my curls dropped to the wooden floor of an overpriced hair salon in São Paulo, I felt like Samson losing his power. It looked good, but moments later, my soul was being swept away by a cleaner in a white uniform.
I'm not myself without being able to play with my hair. Flicking my fingers through my locks, tying it up and down, braiding it: it's all part of my DNA.
I look at the actress Sonia Braga and I think: that's exactly how I want my hair when I'm 60. Long and wavy. I don't want the typical 'mature look'. I don't need to have a bob or a pixie to prove to myself or the world that I've grown up.
Maybe I love my long hair so much at the moment because it's the only thing in my postpartum body that remained intact, that didn't stretch or get swollen.
And yes, it's hard to raise a baby with an over-the-shoulder hairstyle. My girl is at the stage where she pulls it so hard it makes me cry. But what is this pain comparing to what I've been through to bring her to the world?
As people say, it's important for parents to set some boundaries.
My daughter, I love you, and I've given you my whole life.
But my hair? My hair is mine.