What's the big deal about a haircut? A lot, it turns out. Teen Mom 2 cast member Jenelle Evans can be seen in a preview clip for an upcoming episode getting incredibly angry when she discovers that her ex’s new girlfriend gave their son his first haircut.
Evans explains to her friend Tori that the reason she’s so upset is that she wanted to be there for it and take pictures of it. For Evans, it’s such a serious violation that she tells her ex, Nathan Griffith, over the phone that he’ll have to take her to court and get visitation if he wants to see his son in the future:
While some people may think this is a strong reaction to a haircut, it's not entirely out of line. Like Evans says, a child’s first haircut is a big deal. It’s usually a decision made by all parents, together. Maybe they document the event with a photo or save a lock of the child’s hair. It can be devastating to think that someone else made that decision for you, particularly if that someone is the new partner of your ex.
But there’s even more to the decision to cut a child’s hair than just the sentimental aspect of it. For many parents, cutting a child’s hair is a big deal because it involves the issues of bodily autonomy and consent. When a child is too young to understand the implications of a haircut, they are not able to offer informed consent to having it done.
Making decisions about what happens to a child’s body for them is a violation of their bodily autonomy. For some parents, haircuts are on the same level as ear piercing — they plan to wait to cut their child’s hair until their child is old enough to ask for it or indicate in some way that they’d like it to happen.
When we make decisions about their body for them, we send them the message that their body is not their own. If we hope to teach our children bodily autonomy and the concept of consent, that means allowing them to control what happens to their body and when — even when it comes to something that might seem as trivial as a haircut.
Whether or not this was where Evans’ head was at when she got upset over her own son having his haircut without her knowledge, it’s still an important part of the conversation. Deciding to cut a child’s hair is actually a bigger deal than it may seem at first. The mantra “your body, your choice” is one parents everywhere are trying to practice in their homes, and that choice applies to everything from the clothing they wear to the decision to pierce their ears and, yes, even to haircuts.
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