My Hair

I got it cut shorter than chin length in October, just before Halloween. Everyone told me it looked great. I felt good about myself, because I was one of about five girls in the school who had it shorter than shoulder length (not an exaggeration).

Just before my most recent hair cut (my third one with it being shorter than chin), when I was, in exasperation, complaining of needing a trim, my peers expressed shock. They had supposedly been under the impression that I was going to grow it out again–a one-time thing, on a teenaged whim. I was frustrated because I thought that they didn’t mind, and didn’t expect me to conform to typical standards of appearance. Almost everyone I’ve spoken with about my hair has said that it looked good when it was long–which it didn’t. It got chunky by the end of the day, or stringy, and it was always flat, and looked a little thin. It actually looks pretty thick now that it’s pixie-length, and it’s far easier to take care of. I intend to have it short for the remainder of my existence.

I’ve been mistaken for a boy at least three times now.

When I went to Montreal for Thanksgiving, a woman who worked at the pool desk at the hotel greeted my mother and me, told my mother where the women’s changing room was, looked at me, and hesitantly said, “And the men’s room . . .”

I was a little confused. I’m small-boned, so it’s hard for me to look “masculine”, and I was wearing a light-blue t-shirt, so it didn’t make much sense to me that that was the conclusion the woman would come to.

Mom later explained that the French culture has less emphasis on looking “masculine” for males, and there’s a little more ambiguity for gender identity. I wasn’t exactly insulted; mostly startled. People expected “feminine”-looking boys, but not girls with short hair?

The second time was when I was at a karate class preparing for an upcoming tournament–my first. I was conversing with some very young, juvenile boys–they were maybe between six and eight years old–when one of them hesitantly asked me if I was a boy of a girl.

I have a sort of low voice, and I was wearing a baggy gi, so I could understand the confusion.

When I asked the boy if it was the hair, he immediately said it was my voice, but maybe he was just embarrassed that I had anticipated that conclusion and didn’t want to be offensive.

The third and most recent time is a slightly longer story.

I had had a half day at school but I still needed to go to track practice. So I went home, I got changed, and my friend’s mother drove me to school. I didn’t have a phone because all of my clothes lacked pockets, and I didn’t have a key for the same reason. It was sunny and I don’t remember if I even had sunblock and it was only May, I think, but it was hot.

So my friend drove me home again, and I rang the doorbell like fifteen times before getting angry, throwing my sunglasses, and in desperation watching as my ride drove away. I then proceeded to yell and curse myself and my mother–me for not going up to my ride and politely asking to be driven to their home to wait, and my mother because she was “so frigging inconsiderate”.

I stomped around furiously for a little while, exhausted, hot, anxious, and in a rage. Insects swarmed my head. I tried to count the time in order to accurately complain at my mother when the opportunity arose–the instant I saw her.

Eventually, I decided I would have to go and call her to mope, and maybe stay there until she returned for me and I made her life a hell on earth.

After debating furiously with myself whether I should go to my 93-year-old tennis-pro neighbor’s house despite being unsure of whether or not she was home; or I should risk the longer walk on a busier road (well, as busy as it gets in rural Connecticut) to my friend’s house, who I knew for sure was at home because she, too, was on the track team.

I wrote an angry message on the top of our driveway in chalk and walked to my neighbor’s house.

I rang the doorbell. She let me in, acted as though she didn’t recognize me, and let me use the phone. I called my mother and began to cry–I had gone on a long, exhausting run with the distance girls and now I had been outside in the hot sun for at least 50 minutes. She had assumed that I knew the code to open the garage door, which I didn’t, and had left without a thought. After arguing with my mother, I thanked my neighbor, who told me I was “a nice young man” and told me to say hello to my mother for her.

So that is the lengthy story of my hair, which is actually still pretty short.

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