Someday soon, I will return to writing blog posts about poems and art that I like. I might also scan the X-ray of my lungs the French government gave me as well as some drawings in my journal.
But right now, we need to talk about hair. I’ve been going through my biannual hair crisis, which is almost always linked to my sometimes-more-than-biannual gender troubles.
To preface: I absolutely want to emphasize that I get a very real, deep pleasure from the theatricality of excessive, exaggerated femininity–hence my longstanding appreciation of silent film stars and drag queens. The rituals (putting on make-up, pulling my tights as taut as I can, coordinating fabrics, etc.) associated with this sort of gender expression are incredibly important to me. I love these rituals not because they let me parody oppressive gender roles–for me, identifying as femme has little to nothing to do with satire–but because on a very basic, practical level, I get a sort of hedonistic delight in so deliberately and consciously constructing myself. Am I silly if I get a rush from pretty old dresses and bright red lipstick? Maybe I am. But more often than not, going through the motions of these rituals lets me reclaim femininity as a conscious choice and helps me redefine my body as a space of personal pleasure. To illustrate this more clearly: when I still had severe problems with anorexia and bulimia, dressing up was sometimes the only way I could feel comfortable in my body. It was a kind of retreat from the ravages I was putting myself through.
Put simply, I started doing this for myself because I loved how playful and creative it made me feel. I still do it because it continues to make me happy. I think there’s something subversive about that.
The problem is that sometimes being hyper feminine makes me feel like shit. Some days it just doesn’t give me the same kind of thrills it gives me on other days. I can’t really explain why, but I know I’ve always been like this. As a child, I alternated between phases where I loved wearing fairy tutus and frilly communion dresses and phases where I just wanted to wear dungarees. I grew up watching Shakespeare plays and always, always loved Rosalind because she seemed so effortlessly herself as both Rosalind and Ganymede. I know that all this sounds so reductive and essentialist, but that is honestly what my experience of childhood was like and no amount of enlightened gender consciousness can change what I was when I was younger.
I don’t know what any of this means anymore. I’ve been reliving a lot of old, painful memories and everything just makes me even more confused. I don’t know what the fuck I am or what I should do about these different impulses.
A week or so ago, a man who works at the quick stop next to my apartment very insistently followed me from the métro to said quick stop, begging me for my phone number. I had a pile of glitter in my hair and he told me that I was pretty. I feigned a more exaggerated American accent and pretended I didn’t understand him. The next day I was supposed to go meet some friends but was feeling too crazy to socialize. I kept fantasizing about cutting all my hair off, cutting it short like Annie Lennox or Jean Seberg. I imagined what this sort of haircut might look like with my dresses and I imagined what it might look like with more masculine ensembles I don’t own. All of the images in my head were so gratifying that I was very close to getting a scissors and doing it myself.
This is way longer than I expected it to be, so I guess I should get to the point, which is, should I cut off my hair? A part of me feels conflicted and guilty about all of this & I really don’t understand why that is. Maybe I should wait to cut it off until I understand what is going on with me? I’m very, very, very attached to my curls and I think it’s because they let me play up different kinds of femininity that I truly love and enjoy. But a part of me also wonders what it might be like if they were gone, just for a little while.
If I were to cut it off, I think I’d end up cutting it a bit like this:
Would that look weird with curly hair? I have no idea. Which is why I am asking for a little bit of input. I apologize in advance for being so melodramatic. I know it’s just a haircut, that hair can grow back, that I don’t have to fix myself to anything. I know, I know, I know, but I can’t help being neurotic about this.