The wavy, reddish-brown hair that dances down Rowan Nelis' face might have once been the envy of most schoolgirls.
In fact, strangers approach Rowan all the time and say: “She looks so nice. She has such lovely hair.” Instead of thanking them, “all I do is correct them and give them the evil eye,” said Rowan, an 11-year-old boy and articulate representative of a new long-hair crowd.
Four years ago, Rowan, of Highland Park, decided to grow his hair.
“I hate going to the hair cutter — it sucks,” Rowan said. “I like my hair the way it is.”
Rowan isn't alone. Look down the street or on the sports fields of any city or suburb, and you'll see more and more boys trading a Justin Timberlake close-cropped look for the laid-back style of rapper Lil Wayne or the variable-but-lengthy locks of last year's “American Idol” contestant Sanjaya Malaka or even the “non-cut” currently popular with certain celebrity sons.
Flip through People or Us Weekly, and you'll spot actress Kate Hudson's son, Ryder Robinson, or singer Celine Dion's son Rene-Charles Angelil, both sporting below-the-shoulder tresses.
And let's not forget TV. The Disney Channel features longer hair on the boys from “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and “Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream.”
Rowan spurns such pop-culture saturation: “I don't really watch TV that much. I don't care what happens in the movies.”
He simply likes his look.
On the other hand, his sister Morgan, 8, isn't a fan. “It's annoying; he'll spin it around.” For mom Liz Nelis, hair is not something to worry about. “I think of all the things kids can do, it's OK. As long as it's not keeping him from doing things.”
Rowan's only complaint is that “my hair gets stuck in the back of my chair at school.”
Charles Siwinski's blondish, curly hair falls to the middle of his back.
The 8-year-old is a drummer at the Paul Green School of Rock Music in Highwood, where he plays mostly music from the Doors and his favorite band, Led Zeppelin.
But Robert Plant's epic mane wasn't Charles' inspiration for growing his own.
“My dad wanted me to grow it, and I really liked the idea,” Charles said. Mom Lauren Siwinski explains that her clean-cut husband is “an art guy who likes whatever is different and not mainstream.”
Charles said he receives a lot of comments about his hair. “He gets directed to women's bathrooms all the time,” Lauren said. “But it doesn't bother him. He's confident.”