A YOUNG Grafton woman has hit back at verbal abuse she has received at work - all over a haircut.
The 19-year-old, who is studying journalism at Southern Cross University in Lismore, shaved her hair short in December.
Speaking to The Daily Examiner on condition of anonymity, she said she never expected to attract so much negative attention from people in Grafton over something that was her business alone.
She said all of those who made the comments were strangers; usually a male aged 18-20, and usually while she was at work.
On average they happened every three days.
"I get comments like 'Do you have a dick?' 'How are your hormones now?'
"I always get the 'Why did you do that?' It's never in a way that they want to actually know - it's always a bad thing."
When she made the decision to chop her hair off, it wasn't something she thought too much about.
After dyeing it for years, it was damaged and brittle and the easiest option was to start over.
"I just thought yup, I'll just take all my hair off and start again. It kind of blew out of proportion a little bit," she said.
"It wasn't a big thing."
She thought the abuse pointed to a bigger issue of narrow-mindedness in our society, one that needs to change.
"I can definitely see people seeing it that way; they have a very set way that they think girls should look, and it's like anybody who challenges that is automatically the most horrible thing on earth," she said.
"It's not Grafton-centric because it happens all over the world, but there is a lot of it here. It makes me really angry that people can't accept that I decided to cut my hair off. I'm a person."
Greenway Cottage social worker Jodie Johnson applauded the teen for hitting back at the abuse by standing up to it, and said it would help if others did the same.
Psychological abuse such as what this young person has faced can be potentially damaging, especially if it occurs over the long term," Ms Johnson said.
"Verbal and psychological abuse is like water dripping on a rock - over time the water will erode the rock.
"A person could hear 10 positive things about themselves but it's the one negative hurtful comment which will stick."
Verbal abuse frequently went under the radar by being disguised as humour.
For those who have hurled abuse at her, the young Grafton woman had a few words: "Stop being such idiots. Think about what you're saying and how it can affect someone."