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.

7 comments:

Chandra said...

Omg I totally know what you mean about the "nice comments." I think I've been told I have nice eyes from everyone, as they try not to say anything that might bring me to fall down and cry by noticing I don't look like paris hilton. I used to feel the same way about my hair until I finally just started doing what I wanted. Hell I can change my hair however and it's not going to make me look any less skinny. Society is superficial and unfortunetly I don't think it's changing all that quickly... ok this was more negative than I had hoped, I apoligize. Well I did comment because I compeletly agree with you.

Laura Bora from Bufadora said...

I have wavy-curly hair, and the last time I got my hair done my stylist - who is usually conservative with the shears - got a little layer happy with me. I was utterly wigged out about the shortest layers. BUT she freed up the natural wave at the crown of my head and now I love it. I share that hair-anxiety.

I had short hair for most of my 20's -- and I didn't feel sexy or feminine. I grew my hair out the first time I had major weight loss because I saw myself as a "contender" for the first time and not just as the "funny fat sidekick" to my glamorous friends. It's been long ever since despite my re-gain of the weight I lost.

I congratulate you for taking this step toward change!!!

The Fat Girl said...

It's funny that you grew your hair out when you started feeling good about yourself, Laura Bora (&c.), and I'm doing just the opposite. Of course, part of it is that I know so few girls with long hair. It's not a particularly popular thing, these days, among a certain type of young woman (a type to which I at least partially belong), to have long hair. Only one of my close friends has hair my length or longer. And I will never be one of those sleek-haired women in a singles bar, so...no fear. I want a cut that's hip but not "hipster," face-flattering, and a change.

But I might chicken out. You never know.

PastaQueen said...

Hey, I bet you lose at least a quarter of a pound when you get those locks chopped off! :)

I've got wavy/curly hair and I've only just recently learned how to take care of it. I actually read a book about curly hair, "Curly Girl." Why didn't anyone tell me about the diffuser attachment for the hair dryer?

The Fat Girl said...

Oh, PastaQueen, Curly Girl is a great book. I go to her salon when I'm home, and they do a fantastic job. The way I take care of my (very curly) hair has totally changed. I love that book. I think it may be different for people whose hair is less curly than "extremely," but for me, cutting shampoo out (mostly) was a brilliant move. My hair is still dry, but it's a lot less dry—and my curls are about eighty times more defined and gorgeous. Love Curly Girl. And the Devachan products, especially their conditioner and AnGel—I totally swear by that. I know they sell on the internet.

And I probably will, but I'll never know—I don't keep a scale or weigh myself regularly. The presence of a scale in my apartment turns me into a crazy person. It is uncanny. And unpleasant.

Starla said...

I was kind of the same way too with my hair except that I kept mine shorter because I didn't want to be considered a "girly girl". Don't get me wrong, it wasn't boy short or anything, its just that at the time I felt that I had to prove that I wasn't girly and that I could hack it with the boys physically (I was in taekwondo).

Now, along with my fat, I have let my hair grow down to almost mid-back. I'm totally comfortable with my girliness as well as my tomboyishness now, and I figured out how to balance both.

Good for you that you trying new things and finding yourself! It is such a liberating experience to just go all out sometimes.

Anonymous said...

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).

Once upon a time, a loooong time ago (when I was in college), I cut my waist length hair off to collarbone length. Every woman I knew and quite a few I didn't commented aghast that I had cut my hair. Not ONE guy noticed. As long as it touches your shoulders, it's long as far as they're concerned.

Deirdre