Long haired lovelies: Why do boys with long hair STILL upset polite society?
'He'll get picked on!'
'He looks like a girl!'
'It's so scruffy on a boy!'
These are just a few of the comments levied at my seven year old son in the past couple of weeks, and throughout his life, really. All because he has (and always has had) long hair.
William's mane is his crowning glory. It is thick, wavy and abundant, and the most gorgeous shade of blonde. Admittedly, without a careful blow-dry and regular brushing throughout the day, he can bear a passing resemblance to a very woolly sheep nestling in a haystack, but on the whole, it is long and flowing and lush to look at.
And what's more, he loves it and gamely weathers the occasional gender mix up or calls from old crones in the Post Office for it to be chopped off, but then he has never known it any other way - he has never had short hair in his life (apart from when he was born, obviously).
So why is it then, given that he likes it and I like it, do other people have such a problem with little boys with cascading locks? Even a close friend once commented that she was sick of seeing 'those awful middle class yummy mummy types encouraging their sons to have ridiculously long hair.'
I remember seething when a picture of Fiona Phillips and her sons was published in a national newspaper last year and most of the comments on it were scathing criticisms about the kids' hair cuts - or lack of them.
I just don't get why in 2010 we are still so horrified by the sight of a male with a shoulder length hair-do.
'Boys' hair should be tidy and short,' says my friend Sally, bemoaning the fact a child at her son's school has long blonde hair and 'looks like a teenage girl'.
'If you ask me, It's just mums wishing they had a girl,' chips in her mother, Valerie, adding 'I feel sorry for the children.'
I asked my work colleague Heidi, herself the parent of a long haired little boy, if perhaps we did subconsciously long for a daughter. She snorted with derision.
'Nonsense!' she said, 'That's totally ridiculous. My five year old son has surf dude hair and doesn't want it cut, it's his choice and I've reached the conclusion that at this age it's one area where I'm prepared to let him call the shots.'
So does she see any downsides to her son's Samson like barnet?
'Well,' she confessed 'I DO sometimes wonder if a shorter haircut might endear him more to teachers at school - his long hair can sometimes make him look a bit neglected, so from that point of view, I do worry.'
Ah yes, school. It was once gently suggested to William that he had a more 'sensible' hair cut after he'd banged his head in the playground and was swiftly dispatched to the school nurse.
'You need this all cut off!' she proclaimed, her hands trying to make a path through his thatch to examine his scalp.
'Why'? he asked,
'So I can see your head properly,' she replied.
'But,' said my son, out of confusion rather than smart-Alec-ness 'You don't normally have to look at it'.
Obviously hair extremities are one of those rites of passage every youngster goes through, and my long hair loathing pals are all convinced that William will rebel by demanding a shaved head the minute he's allowed to the hairdressers unattended, much in the same way I staged my own hair-based protests throughout my formative years. But somehow, knowing my son, I doubt it. Fingers crossed, he'll carry on loving his long swishy hair and let it grow ever more abundant.
And if he doesn't? Then I'll just exercise my parental right to start calling the 'you're not going out with your hair like that' shots.
What do you think?
Do you like long hair on little boys, or should it be a short back and sides all the way?