For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.
When I was 16-years-old, I shaved my hair down to a quarter of an inch and bleached it. I’d skipped out on school to visit my friend Justin, who’d run away from home. While talking with Justin and his friend Michael, the two flamboyantly gay boys convinced me that I needed to cut my waist-long hair off. Michael kept telling me that I was hiding my beautiful face from the world with the unruly rat’s nest I combed maybe once a week. For a moment, I was a gorgeous woman surrounded by my stylists.
I followed Michael up to his bathroom and braided my hair. Then we cut it off. Justin was laughing the whole time. Michael did the cutting and brought out the shears. When it was all done, I was disappointed. Disappointed because my hair naturally lightens in the sun and near my scalp, my hair was dark. So we solved that with bleach. They both pronounced me as fabulous as Annie Lennox.
Moral of the story: boosting my self-esteem in a non-sexual way is the best way to convince me to do about anything.
When I got back to school, for creative writing club, my friends thought my hair was great. My mother, however, did not. Her anger and yelling came from the perspective of being my mother and the keeper of my hair. She was the one who was supposed to keep other kids from making fun of me. (Sorry, mom, but the other kids had already been calling me ‘lesbian’ during P.E. class, a long time before I cut off my hair or came out.) My mom was the one who was supposed to teach me my gender performance.
You see, I don’t wear makeup and I still have problems combing my hair regularly. And when I was a kid, I refused to wear dresses or pink. My mother made every possible attempt to tame me and my hair. She curled it, crimped it, hair-sprayed it. She put barrettes in it and made me sit in front of her after my baths to comb it out. When I was five, she was busy and had my maternal grandpa brush my hair out for her. I have never felt so much pain in my life. And from them on, when I didn’t behave for grooming, she’d threaten to have grandpa do it.
A couple of times growing up, my mom home-permed my hair. Not only do perms look bad, they smell like the whole family ate beans and air-locked the room. I’d lay down on my mom’s counter and stick my head in the sink while she doused me with chemicals. My scalped burned and itched. One time, she did it twice in a row when the first time didn’t take. I don’t know how my hair didn’t fall out.
When I shaved my hair all off, my mom yelled at me the entire 5-mile car ride home. My father didn’t talk to me for two months. I had to wear a hat to church for Christmas mass. My mom seethed in a polite way when the old ladies complimented me on my adorable hat. My grandpa rubbed my head and told me that I felt like his dog Fred. And my great-grandma thought it was darling.
Until last year, my passport featured my short, short hair. And I was always afraid they’d make me stay in Canada. (Or was that my plan all along…?) When people asked for pictures, my passport was my go-to photo. I’d had friends share their own hair cutting stories and lovers giggle at me. My family, or at least my mom and grandparents, now think me shaving my head is the most hilarious story to tell at family gatherings. (See Thanksgiving when during dinner, my grandma recounted the tale for my cousins who were too little to remember.)
The truth is that I still do not know what I want my hair to look like anymore than I did when I was 16. I’m lazy. I let it grow. I don’t like spending what I consider excessive money on it. On a good day, I brush it between red lights on the way to work. On a bad day, it looks like I slept on it because I did. It’s gotten out of control.
On December 18th, I have an appointment to have my hair cut. But I still don’t know how I want it done. It’s down to the bottom of my ribcage, and the only thing I know is that I don’t want it this long and I don’t want it above my ears. Help me, friends.
If you want to see my hair combed or you laughed at these photos of me, donate to GeekGirlCon, a convention focusing on geeky women and one I would like to have some kind of hairstyle at. It would be nice not to have to cover my tangled hair with my Jayne hat.