I was shocked at a dinner party when a friend said that she was beaten for cutting her own hair when she was a little girl. And when another friend declared that she would have beaten her too if she had been her daughter and done that.
I was never beaten, for any reason. I used to cut my own hair all the time, and I never got into trouble for it. I cut it down so far to the roots when I was in the second grade, that those who didn’t know me kept calling me “little fella”.
I didn’t really care. I enjoyed cutting my hair. I never liked straight bangs and worked hard to get them uneven. I used to lock myself in the bathroom and snip away. I still do.
My friend Madeleine once cut my hair at the train station with a pair of craft scissors I just happened to have in my purse.
Cutting your own hair and drawing on yourself are similar activities of self expression.
My son has always loved to draw on himself, his clothes and shoes with ball point pens and markers. Why not? It’s such a harmless and primal activity that many adults just get so worked up about! Almost all the clothes that you buy these days for kids have writing all over them anyway. What’s the big deal? As long as you have one “good” set of clothes for when you have to dress up, why not? I’d much rather see my kids advertising their own artwork than advertising some corporation.
Last year, in seventh grade one of my son’s teachers told him angrily she never wanted to see any drawings on him again, after she spied a “tattoo” on his arm. I called her and told her that it was fine with us, as long as he wasn’t drawing on himself when he was supposed to be doing something else.
I learned years ago as an art teacher, and as a lifelong promoter of creativity and self expression that when you step in to interfere with a kids activity, think to yourself “Why not?” and if there is really no good reason why not, then stand back. This is especially true in the art area.
For instance why not let a kid take a watercolor brush and dip it into every color and mix all the colors together to make brown, then rub the brush and water all around until the paper rips? This is what many kids do when they first start to paint. Why can’t we just let them do it and find out for themselves what will happen? Adults just love to butt in. It’s hard to hold back, but we must!
Why not let a kid sit and cut their drawing into a million little pieces with a pair of scissors? Why not? So what? Or staple it all over, or cover it with tape? Why not let them ruin it if that is what they choose to do.
Kids do get “stuck” on colors once in a while, and that is all they WANT to use. Make all the colors available to them but let them use one color! It’s OK! Why not? Picasso did it!
Here’s a photo of me as a young girl with a self inflicted haircut.