Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chop it Off

I cut my hair again.

Real short.

Short like a boy short.
does have that feminine vee, though. And
good LORD does my hair look red here
I am not as attractive as traditionally defined as I was with longer (albeit still short!) hair.

That's kind of the point.

I feel like I've spent my whole life not being comfortable in my skin. I was extremely awkward and shy as a kid, suffering from debilitating anxiety (the kind of anxiety where my mother had to go to school with me in 6th grade, because I refused to go to class on my own), not helped by the arrival of acne in middle school. I was not popular with the guys, which probably contributed to my entering a sexually abusive relationship in college, the repercussions of which I continue to deal with. Over the years, I've become more confident: I'm an intelligent, relatively capable, generally nice person, and while I have my fair share of issues, I like Marilyn Monroe's quote: "...if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." I believe I am worthy of respect, love, and equality (and have found a fantastic partner in the boy). But I am still not completely comfortable in my skin.

I wear foundation because I feel like I have to. I hate my skin. It's been an acne-filled mess for 13 years, and I am thankful to foundation for allowing me to present a face that is more conventionally attractive. I think I love makeup because, while all sorts of societal pressures make me feel bad about going out with visible blemishes, having fun with color is one way I can re-appropriate my face and make an otherwise onerous duty fun and an expression of self. Experimenting with colorful eyeshadows is a more recent way of doing so––bright green eyeliner and purple eyeshadow is not traditionally attractive, considered even "hookerish" (though the boy is a big fan, what a lucky girl am I!), and in embracing bright eyes, lips, and cheeks, I can feel like I am subverting the expectations of what wearing makeup should be for. I'm torn between wanting to make myself blend in, as if that can help me avoid future harassment or assault*, and wanting to stick out and embrace my identity, flaws and all. Someday, I hope to be able to go out wearing only ridiculous eyeliner and bright red lipstick, without the protective barrier of foundation, but I am not yet at that point.
*This is blatantly untrue. The only thing that can prevent harassment and assault is the perpetrators, and anyone who says otherwise is dismayed at that unfortunate truth and wants to make themselves feel safer in a world lacking in safety by blaming victims. The fact is that no one is immune from assault, and it is never the survivor's fault.

So instead, I decided to do something that completely voids one form of security, by chopping off my hair. I want to look in the mirror and respect the woman I see there, not because she looks nice, but because she is confident and comfortable as herself. Getting rid of my hair forces me to confront my bias that I should only go out when I look as close to conventionally attractive as possible so as not to ruffle any feathers. I've always admired women with extremely short hair for not being "the norm", for flouting expectations of femininity. I'm not sure if I can say I'm proud of myself for doing this––it's only a haircut, after all, and I'm hardly the first person to go super-short––but I'm proud of myself for trying to become less reliant on the evaluations of other people. I am more than my hair and my face and my body: I am a complete person, with dreams, ambitions, shortcomings, fears, baggage, talents, beliefs, experiences. And if you don't like my hair, that's fine: I didn't do it for you. I did it for me.
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