Perspectives From a Man Bun-er


Jonathan Stafford

Expressing yourself can be both a blessing and a curse.

When I go home to my relatively conservative family on the East Coast, there is rarely a dinner where my man bun and bright attire aren’t mentioned. When I look around Boulder, I consider the way I present myself normal, mainly because here in our lovely bubble, having long hair, wearing intentionally torn clothes, and expressing yourself in unique ways is the norm. Being inexpressive is often looked down upon. We stand out like a sore thumb in a bland world, getting sideways glances, looked up and down by every older man on the street, silently judging us from behind thick glasses. 

It’s frustrating being uncomfortable whenever you leave town, but one must recognize that it is something young people everywhere have dealt with for as long as anyone can remember. Just because I’ve personally experienced it coming out of Boulder doesn’t mean it isn’t a widespread issue. My dad’s parents hated his rock music and mullet; my grandfather’s parents berated him for following the Grateful Dead on tour. This isn’t just a town-to-town judgment; it’s a generational gap. 

So where is the disconnect? Do you turn 30 and then lose your sense of fun?

When a senior citizen yelled, “get a damn haircut” at me on The Hill last week, this question rang through my mind (after I threw some choice words back at him). These incidents happen to me often, no matter where I go. I recently went to California to tour colleges, a place is known for being open and accepting, and I still heard an elderly couple bickering about how I was dressed. My hair while at In n Out (In n Out! What do they want, a tux and a blazer?) But then it dawned upon me; I, too, get annoyed at the enjoyment of the younger generation. I find people talking about TikTok extremely annoying. Why? Since I don’t have it, I don’t understand it, and I thus don’t want anything to do with it. Just the mere presence of anything related to it bothers me. This realization led to my conclusion about why there is a constant cycle of judgment, year after year, generation after generation. When we dislike or don’t understand something, we often disdain it and everything surrounding it. Unfortunately, with one realization came another; prejudice is ridiculously hard to stop. So is there even a solution to this problem? Not necessarily, but there are ways to deal with it.

Take it from me, a kid who wears bright blue shirts, peach-colored shorts, and braids his hair back because he was always jealous of his older cousins for being able to do the same—a kid who is called “too feminine” by many members of his family. 

While it’s not as simple as just not caring, you’d be shocked at the difference that comes with shrugging off the negative comments. There will always be judgment, and it doesn’t necessarily matter what you are doing. Someone will always look down on you for whatever reason. So who cares? As long as you are happy and confident in what you are doing, nothing and no one else’s opinion matter. After all, are you dressing the way you do for other people? Or are you doing it for yourself? Does the random old guy on The Hill’s opinion matter to you? Or does it just make you angry at the moment? Ask yourself these questions next time someone judges you for expressing yourself and judges you for being you. Don’t allow yourself to be torn down by anyone– allow yourself to fly free, and remember, never let the pressures of the “bleh” that surrounds us take that freedom away from you.