The Columns

‘Freely and Unapologetically Myself’ Jordan Goldstein’s Washington and Lee journey can be followed through her love of music, her adventures on the stage — and the length of her hair.

— by on January 4th, 2018

“Washington and Lee has given me the freedom to not just discover my passions, but to find out who I really am.”

Jordan Goldstein ’18

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Majors: Music Composition, Global Politics

A large portion of my Washington and Lee experience has had to deal with one large experiment: my hair. This may seem confusing, especially since I’m not sporting much of it at the moment, but hair is a crucial part of our identity, how we present ourselves to the world, and how the world perceives us. I spent all of high school with the same auburn, waist-length locks, and they often became a more defining feature than my personality, which was off-putting to say the least. I occasionally would float the idea of cutting it short, but most friends freaked out at the idea, saying I wouldn’t be Jordan anymore.

That issue didn’t exist once I got to W&L, and I was incredibly excited to be defined by anything but my appearance. Sophomore year, I went for a dark brown bob. Some may call it an emotional haircut, but the plan had been in the works for years, and I finally felt like I had the chance. Shortly after, I went on a Birthright trip to Israel, where I met and became friends with people I barely knew before and I started coming to terms with my own bisexuality. Through W&L, I toured Ireland, took on my first role in a straight play, sang with the jazz band – I felt reborn. A literal curtain had been pulled back, and here I was! Addicted, I took it to the next level that summer and got a pixie cut.

Initially, that cut was uncomfortable. I got long stares and confused expressions, and I wore more makeup than usual because I felt the need to make up for something, even if I wasn’t sure what that was. Having less hair is revealing, physically and psychologically. Junior year and the power of the pixie led to my friends supporting me in coming out as bisexual, my music professors supporting me in discovering conducting as a passion, and the crazy idea that I could write a musical in four months. Only at W&L, right?

Taking the dead weight off my head opened me up to taking further advantage of the liberal arts college experience that lets me be a multifaceted and complex human being because I was more me and less … well, hair. This brings us to now, my senior year, and a continuation of this trend.

Being cast as Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family” gave me the perfect excuse to tackle the ultimate step in this project. I shaved my head on October 21st and haven’t looked back since. I may be distinct-looking on campus, but I’ve never felt more freely and unapologetically myself. Learning to be comfortable in my own skin, even as people stare or question why I would do such a thing, has shaped a more confident and bold self. Most comment on how this shows my strong commitment to my role, which was part of the decision, but the drastic change wasn’t purely about the character. Fester wasn’t that much of a stretch for me to play: he’s a bit mischievous, but has a big heart, chasing his dreams and trying to help others reach theirs as well. He’s a piece of queer representation in the show, and the ease with which he and the other characters deal with his ambiguous sexuality and gender has helped me become more settled in my own, and I have begun coming out as a non-binary individual at W&L.

I can’t really be called bald anymore, but the strength of my identity remains. Washington and Lee has given me the freedom to not just discover my passions, but to find out who I really am. I’ve made my academic career into one big study of my identity, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

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