I’ve never dyed my hair before. At one point in my life, I often identified my hair as my best feature. It’s a dark mass of curls, lively but not unruly. It can very easily be tamed with some water and a mirror. When it started falling out and thinning a couple years ago, I had to find a new best feature. Luckily, I’m pretty fucking hot.
But back then (and perhaps still now), I had a pretty intense attachment to my hair. It was a point of pride, probably because I spent a lot of my young life hating myself and the way I looked. For much of my childhood, I endured being made fun of for this or that, being told I had a “butt chin,” or some jibe about my stature. So it was indeed a cruel twist of fate to then have the hair taken away.
I had a pixie cut when I was in the 2nd grade and an asymmetrical cut in the 7th, but otherwise I stuck to the classics. I never had much of a desire to experiment with fashionable coiffeurs, perhaps because I felt I had pigeonholed myself too much to be allowed to try new styles, or maybe because I liked my hair and I’ve always been a big believer that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I cut all my hair off a couple weeks after Smith sent us home last year. Going to a women’s college, it was only a matter of time, and everyone knew that but me. But I liked my long hair. It was flowing and shiny. I felt like a revolutionary boy on horseback. But it was also incredibly fine and sensitive, and more kept falling out everyday. I couldn’t put it up in a ponytail for more than a minute without it getting tangled into a rat’s nest. So I cut it all.
I never used to get people who got tattoos or piercings, or dyed their hair or shaved it all off on a manic whim. I understand them a bit more now. I’m trying to let a looser lead on the image of myself in my head. I don’t want to hold myself so tightly to the idea I have of who I am that I never let myself find a better me.
What’s funny is that my short hair actually makes me feel much more feminine, though it also makes me much more uncomfortable to dress femininely. I feel like a dyke in lipstick when I wear a dress now. I look like I’m really into owls and chicken-print tea towels. So I perhaps still have a bit more leash I could let out.
On an only tangentially related note, I got my fourth and fifth concussions last month. My gal pal told me that if this happens too many more times, my head will be squashed completely flat (which could eliminate the hair problems altogether). I’ve been working for my father doing construction this spring, so I would often still be wearing ratty work clothes when I visited the osteopath for my head appointments. (A funny side effect: I’ve actually started to believe in homeopathy; I just can’t tell if that’s because the treatment helped, or because I’ve suffered brain damage five times.) It’s very funny to roll into the osteopath’s office in those clothes, because everyone else there is Waspy as can be. It’s prim and proper little old ladies and sand trays and dirty old me towering above them all.
I am obsessive and compulsive in many ways, so being in bed for several weeks post-concussion really cramped my style. My mother chastised me for spending too much time out with my friends, but I knew that even if I was home, I wouldn’t be able to let myself rest, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from completing whatever tasks popped into my head.
More than that, I’ve realized that Covid has further trimmed my already short attention span. Like many of my friends, I can’t even watch TV without also being on my phone. And now I need even more constant stimulation. Despite my head injury, I’ve been spending an average of four hours a day on my phone — down from my normal six-to-eight — I’ve vacuumed at least thrice, and got two haircuts. Life is in the living.