Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On radar and identity

I think it might be time to cut off my hair.

When I was with toad, she loved my hair short, and that worked for me, because I had always worn it short, and when I came out as a lesbian, I did what all the baby dykes were doing at that time in that area, and I got my hair cut with a one-guard. I wore variations of that cut for years.

I have a life-long issue with my hair. It’s thick and coarse with enough body to hold a curl and piss me off, but not enough to be called “curly” by anyone whose hair is actually curly. When I was about two, my family went to visit my grandfather’s sister, one of my favorite people in the world, and I was taken to a studio for photos. When my mom set me down on the carpet-covered boxes, the photographer said, “Don’t you want to brush her hair first?” and my mom, who’d already spent a bunch of time on my hair, did so, taking out all of her irritation on my hair, again. In the photos, I’ve still got tears in my eyes.

Having my hair washed was no better—it took a very long time and a lot of water to get the shampoo out and no matter how careful we were, I still usually had soap in there, which led to itching and general pissiness for one and all. Combine all of that with the fact that I was fairly certain my mother was trying to kill me when she washed my hair, and you can imagine how my hair looked most of the time.

Shortly after my brother was born, I found some scissors and cut all of my hair off. I have photos from the end of July in 1973—on the 20th, I had long, wavy hair; on the 23rd, my hair was maybe an inch long, with jagged edges everywhere. I loved it. My mom cried.

My memories of the rest of my childhood are that I had very short hair for the rest of my life, though the photos don’t reflect that. I spent a lot of time on ball diamonds and courts, and hair was a thing to be dealt with and kept out of the way as much as possible.

When toad and I split up, I started growing my hair. I have it cut and/or thinned regularly, because there’s a lot of it and if I don’t do that, I get headaches. I wear it in a ponytail most days because I don’t like it getting in my mouth. It’s about shoulder length, now, and I love the way it catches the light, the weight of it in my hands when I’m doing things with it. I love it that the Small Friends always want to play with it and put fancy hairdos in it.

I’m getting to the point, though, where I might need to be done with it again for a while. All the way through my early 20s, I had no breasts to speak of, really. By my mid-20s, I was a solid B cup, and stayed there for quite some time. A few years ago, I was suddenly a C cup. Now, I’m a D, and in addition to the hair changing the way men are looking at and treating me, I’ve got these breasts that seem to make guys think I’m theirs to cat call in a way I never have been before.

I miss flying under their radar. I miss being recognized by other lesbians as family—right now, I look like a straight chick. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are straight chicks, but it’s not who I am. I’ve always said that when I get pregnant, I’m getting my hair cut off because I want people to know that I’m a pregnant lesbian, not just a pregnant woman. But I’m running out of patience and I’m tiring quickly of being approached by men on their terms.

It’s time for things to be on my terms again; I just don’t know if changing my hair will be enough to make that happen.


Anonymous Grace said...

My guess is gonna be no. Hair length is something I've struggled with for a long time too, with similar thoughts, and having it short has never done me much good as far as getting guys to leave me alone. While I certainly got more attention for my hair when it was long (mine isn't as wavy as yours, but there is a lot of it when it's long, and I wore it very long for a few years), I mostly just got that attention focused on other body parts once I cut it. And, actually, I don't think I've ever gotten as much cat-calling and that type of crap as I did when my head was shaved.

That being said, I think the bottom line is that it is yours to do with what you will, and the great thing about it is that nothing you do is ever permanent.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I've been 12 or so, I have always let my hair grow for many years without doing anything besides washing it, and then cut it once from waist-length to ear-length.

Now I've had it quite short for two years, and I don't like having a hair-cut so often.

Also, I slightly think of my hair as symbolic for a part of my life, so one of the big cuts was after I left school, and so on.

3:21 PM  
Blogger alice, uptown said...

I suspect the D-cup will refute any action you take on the hair front. The only way around it is either age (trust me, in another 10 years, those whistles scarcely be a memory) or wearing clothing that hides your bustline entirely. However doing that -- which I do as street-smart dressing -- does mean I've given in rather than deal with the issue. Since you live in an area where cars are the norm, clothes might not be the same problem for you.

8:25 PM  

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