your input requested

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.

6 Comments to “your input requested”

  1. I think you should do it.

    There’s something not destructive, but powerful about cutting your hair off. I don’t know how it will look, either, or if you’ll like it, but you’ve been thinking about this for a long time now. The only way to find out is to do it. The worst that can happen is that you hate it, and you suffer through the awkward growing-in stage– which I imagine would be kind of afro-like, which might be awesome.

    The thing about curly hair when you cut it really short is that it doesn’t look curly anymore. I see this with curly-haired men all the time.

    Do it. Do it. Fuck it, do it.

    p.s. I LOVE YOU

  2. I second what Audra says. Because the best thing about hair is that it grows back.

  3. The only advice I would give you is this:

    1) Wait at least three days. If you think about it for three days and every day you’re still happy with the idea and keep thinking more and more about how awesome and fun it would be then totally go for it. I do this as an ultra-curly haired lady because (especially in summer) there are times I want to cut it all off. Only to look at myself in the mirror and love it the next day and think really excited thoughts about how awesome curly hair is. I think the waiting period also depends on how close you feel to your hair and your identity based on your hair. I would probably give myself two weeks because my hair sometimes feel essential to who I am (also blah blah black hair dynamics). But I think you’re less wedded to your hair.

    ALSO. You’re going to be super hot! Even in the awkward growing it out stage, you’ll probably look totally Kiki Montparnasse Hot. You can make anything work, Jane!

    2) If you want to be whimsical,


  4. do it, do it, do it! i felt very much the same way when i cut my hair — i’d been thinking about it for a good couple of years at that point and still wasn’t sure if i’d like it or not, but figured it was time to just FIND THE FUCK OUT. and i don’t think i’ll eva go back. i also agree w/ megan — even if you immediately decided it wasn’t right, you’d make the awkward growing-out-phase work unlike anyone else.

    the straight hair barrier is a very real thing, though, and you’re right to keep it in mind so you’re prepared. your hair might not still look curly, but its texture & thickness won’t be any different — which has a lot to do with the way it sits on your head & moves — or in my case, how it doesn’t move. i have all kinds of ideas of what i’d like my ideal short hair to look like, but my hair’s pretty stubborn (oh! to look like jean seberg, sigh). stubbornness aside, i’m just so so glad i decided to suck it up and take scissors to all that hair i had.

    also — i have a friend who straightens his hair every morning to get the texture he wants out of his curly hair. that’s not something i have the energy to deal with ever, but for someone who DOES like the act and pattern of feminine self-making, it might actually be its own newly gratifying ritual!

    oh, jane, this is all very exciting, MAKE SURE YOU TAKE A TON OF PICTURES OF CUTE SHORT HAIR. cute short hair cute short hair swoon!

  5. you know my thoughts on this. I really think this has been a long time coming and if you don’t do it you’re going to continue to wonder about it forever. DO IT, it’ll be HOT.

  6. Aaaah, I am overwhelmed by how lovely you people are!Thank you so so so much for your advice; it means a lot to a neurotic and sappy person like myself. I think I’m going to sit on it for another week or so and if I still can’t shake this desire, I’ll clip it off. eeeee

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