Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hair! (Results version)

I love my new hair so much, I cannot even say. I put myself into the stylist's hands, said "funky," said "asymmetrical," said "not shorter than my chin," and let her get to work. You have no idea how much hair there was on the floor. I have been growing my hair pretty much uninterrupted since I was thirteen. Now it grazes my shoulders. And that's the longest layer. There are layers no longer than four inches (when the curl's unstretched). There are teeny-tiny short curls around my face. The asymmetry is pronounced. It's sweet and fluffy and funky. I am done with shapeless teenage-girl hair forever. It is sassy-twentysomething hair. It is fantastic. Also, it is like big arrows pointing at my cheekbones and jawline. Whee. Hair.

The other day there was a fat activism workshop on my college campus. The Feminist Student Union and the Queer Alliance publicized it sort of halfheartedly. My thriftshop-planning partner couldn't make it, but wanted me to go to chat up the activists, who are tied into the Portland fat activism organizations. I went. I was the only fat person, other than the people who were giving the workshop.

It was...fine? I wished, passionately, that the women presenting had been better public speakers. This is my own work-within-the-system preference, but I hate playing into stereotypes, and fat people are constantly at risk of seeming unprofessional and having that chalked up to their fatness. These women are not professional public speakers. Maybe that means that they shouldn't be representing their organizations in this medium. I'm not sure. I wanted to yelp, "stop saying, 'you know?' right now!" But the discussion was pretty free and pretty fun, and that it was happening was nice, and I met a staff member who's doing her dissertation on representations of fatness...especially in advertising and fashion. Which is to say, all the things I like best. We stood around afterwards and talked about Susan Bordo and Fatshionista and my thrift store plans and her dissertation. The idea of "fat studies" is really gathering steam as an academic field. There's a conference at Smith coming up this month. I really might be interested in that, but I wouldn't want to do it exclusively. I'd want to do it in the context of the way I'm working with things like canonicity and cultural identity in my thesis. I wonder if talking about fat studies in my personal statements to grad schools would make me a more (innovative!) or less (...fat) attractive candidate for admission to said grad schools.

It is a sign of such intense weakness that my abs are sore from the minimal yoga I am doing twice a week. Can I blame it on surgery? Bah. My legs have always been tough, because I walk a lot and I'm carrying my own weight when I do it, but the rest of me? Not so much. I am looking forward to working on that, so the soreness is probably positive.

And by the way? I love my hair.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Trajectories: Eating Food, Hair & Femininity

I did good today.

I woke up and made myself an omelet with spinach and onions and cheddar cheese. And ate some applesauce. This was brunch. I had a microwave South Beach pizza for dinner (okay, I am totally not on the South Beach diet and those things are way too expensive, but they are also miracles of modern science, because the South Beach engineers have crammed THIRTY-ONE grams of protein and ELEVEN grams of fiber into a 340-calorie microwave pizza that doesn't taste bad, and the biology of that, like, totally eludes me) with some roast beef slices and grapes. And a cup of hot chocolate as a late-night snack. Way to go, kid, on mission: Eat Nourishingly In A Way That Is Constructively Emotionally Nourishing (I am not good at catchy mission titles).

And now I have corn muffins in the oven for breakfast or library snacks or something. They smell nice. I had sort of forgotten, over the past week, how wonderful nutritive food is, and how much more comforting it really is. But the thing is that it's slower, and when I'm as upset as I've been of late, I don't want to slow down, because slowing down allows the upset to creep in at the cracks.

A trip to the campus health center yielded a prescription for a stopgap anti-anxiety medication (just to get me through to the completion of my Major Academic Project), seven months' worth of practically-free birth control, and, to the end of attaining said practically-free birth control, the information that my blood pressure is back to its preferred pre-surgery mark, which is 120/78, which is perfect.

I have taken the muffins out of the oven. They are pretty. Golden brown and puffy.

And today I made the appointment to cut off my hair. I have long, kind of dramatic hair, and it's one of the ways that people identify me politely ("the girl with long curly hair," instead of "the fat girl"). It's also one of the things people compliment politely ("You have such beautiful hair!" is second only to "You have such beautiful eyes!"). And other than a highlight here and a face-framing layer there, I haven't changed it since I grew out a total hair disaster when I was thirteen or fourteen. Although I've had very competent (and expensive) people cutting my hair, I've been terrified to make any big changes. Hair is important. There is the normal fear of looking bad. There is the sort of inchoate fear of change that attaches to your hair, the fear that maybe has something to do with your appearance, but is mostly just fear of loss, I think, that rises up strong when you try to call a salon. And for me, there is the fact that having long and dramatic hair was a way of asserting femininity when for a long time I didn't feel particularly feminine. For a long time I didn't feel feminine at all. For awhile, in fact, I somehow harbored the private belief that I did not have breasts. I wore a D cup at the time, but secretly, I believed that what I had was fat not breasts like other girls. But yes. Long hair. Femininity. And my mother had always wanted me to have short hair when I was little, because curly hair is so difficult to take care of, and that had always been a bathroom power struggle. I thought my face was too fat for short hair, that long hair somehow...hid something? I don't know. Now I'm finding sort of the opposite is true: my hair has gotten so long that I lose volume at the crown, which makes my face look rounder than it is.

I want a sideswept bang and shorter layers, to emphasize my cheekbones.

And now I have a hair appointment. The stylist is heavily vouched-for by women with curly hair on the internet. I have pictures to bring with me. Chin-length asymmetrical bobs.

And I do feel the upsurge of inchoate fear. But I don't think I feel particularly concerned about losing my femininity (other than the fact that my boyfriend is attached to my long hair). I want the clean slate of a big hair change, its trumped-up symbolism. I cut off a chunk in the mirror today. I am impatient. I am shaking my head and my long, long hair—almost waist-length when you pull the curl taut—and anticipating the strangeness of lightening.