Tuesday, 3 February 2009

hair and heels

So I did a post the other day over on the other blog about my hair. Basically about my lifelong see saw between long and short. And it occurred to me that those who have come to know me via the blog have pretty much only seen me with long hair. But for most of my life I have been a person with very short hair, and I still feel like this is the real me and the chick with the long hair is some kind of pretend version of me.

I frequently get positive comments on both lengths, so I don't think one is overwhelmingly the best choice. But the two sides of the coin represent really different things to me, much more than just what I feel I look like, and the dialogue I have with myself about my hair speaks to bigger things.

Very short hair for me is eminently practical and no fuss. I love that is clean and neat and requires so little care aside from regular cuts. I like that it comes with no paraphernalia, routines, thought or choices. It is what it is. And when I have short hair I think this is what it says to the world about my values, that I don't care to waste time and thought on my hair. That I have willingly given up a claim to traditional beauty (not all beauty, just the conventional kind) and have more in common with a Buddhist nun than a starlet.

And before anyone goes saying that it is no longer true that short short hair really means this, I have to say I absolutely think in a general way it does. I spent most of my teenage years arguing with hair dressers about how short was short enough (no, Lady Diana is not what I had in mind), or whether someone like me (?!) should choose a really short style. In the end I took to cutting my hair with clippers myself in desperation.

But you know, every now and then I get bored. I think it might be kind of fun to be able to choose a hair look that's different from one day to the next, to have a do. And when there's length there's colour, which is loads of fun, and you can go for months and months without a hair cut. I like wearing my hair in braids and with clips.

And, it's true, it's true, I feel more feminine and I think I come across as less scary. I am an assertive and large person and the harsh hair can exaggerate this and make me intimidating, which I really don't want to be. And though no one close me has ever been rude about me having short hair, people have discouraged me from getting it all cut off when it is long.

But cut it all off I always do. Because as much as the short hair became boring the long hair becomes oppressive in another way. I can't be fagged with the routines and the care and choices. I'm always looking for my favourite clips and pulling masses of hair out of the shower drain and tiring from the uphill battle to make more of my thin limp locks. I end up with it in a boring ponytail pretty much everyday and I don't think a pony tail is really my best look. I just want to be free of the burden of femininity.

So that's where I am now. With long hair I no longer like or wish to care for. And since I have so many burdens in my life I can't just toss (like trying to be a good mother to my children, trying to be a decent partner to the man I love, trying to be a good daughter to my wonderful mother, sister to my sister, worker to my boss and so on) maybe I want to just toss this one because I can. To show I can.

But three funny things happened on the way to the hair dresser.

The first was when I told my partner what I was planning and he said (in a very unassuming and non binding kind of way, after prompting from me), I wish you wouldn't. It suits you longer and more feminine. This was really unlike him, and the very baldness of it, the way it so clearly articulated my own inner dialogue gave me pause.

The second was a complex and vivid dream I had after the conversation above. I was at a big event (a wedding maybe?) and as I was getting dressed I realised that I had a pair of high heels to wear. Even in the dream I knew this was freaky, that I haven't worn heels pretty much ever, but certainly not for decades. But in the dream I put them on and they were actually comfortable, which was totally weird and surprising and I wondered if maybe I just had never found the right ones before. In the dream I was accompanied by a friend of mine, let's call her J, who in real life is someone I consider extremely feminine, not in a frou frou way, but in a funky model kind of way.

At the wedding there was some fuss about the cake and I was needed to solve it. In actuality there were three cakes, not one and I think I had to decide which one was right, although I had no idea why I should be doing this and since the cakes were all cut and had I think already been served, I wasn't at all sure what the issue was. So the first cake was some layered butter cake with a custard type filling. It looked very fancy (possibly Italian) and very enticing but it had absolutely no taste - like eating nothing at all. The second cake was a traditional home made passionfruit sponge. It was absolutely delicious but seemed really inappropriate for the occasion, too imperfect and too small to feed so many people. The last was a gingerbread thing. Not the traditional box house with a sloped roof, but a castle, or maybe a fort? And again, this seemed really wrong for the occasion. I found my friend J and asked her what she thought about the cake thing and she was all offhand and said she's tried some of the gingerbread and it was delicious.

In the next bit of the dream I was on the set of Top Gear, getting ready for the taping of the show. In the dream I was a regular part of the team of presenters, but in a third limb kind of way. The butt of all the jokes and clearly right out of place. In walks Clarkeson wearing a totally ridiculous beanie, all sticking up on his head like the teat on a baby's bottle (!!). I tell him the hat is terrible and he should take it off and he counters that I'm only saying that because it is handknit. Ha! but I knit, and love handknits, the hat is just awful, I say. And he walks off totally unconcerned about my opinion.

Next I am talking to Hammond about something and for some reason I have my foot up on the coffee table. Suddenly he spies my high heels and says HA! HA! and immediately I know I am in for a big shit stir. I look down and the black polish on the shoes has worn off and now they are a truly hideous mottled brown, the toes are an awful shape and they are about three sizes too big for me! I try to wriggle my toes down so they don't look so stupid and push my pants down to hide them, but it's all totally obvious. Hammond calls Clarkeson over and gets down on the floor and sweeps a pair of scissors under the ball of my foot, demonstrating something about the fact that I am standing back on my heels instead of standing properly in the shoes. I feel totally out of my depth and humiliated.

The third and most ominous thing is that my hair dresser has suddenly decided, without warning, to close on Mondays (my only child free hair cutting opportunity).

So today I am making cupcakes with passionfruit icing and contemplating my next move.


Terri said...

Dreams are weird, aren't they? But as someone who has recently cut off all (and I do mean ALL) of her hair, I just encourage you to think carefully. You can do all sorts of things to long hair to make it mimic short but there's not much to be done with a too-short cut but wait it out.

froginthepond said...

I was never much for Jungian dream analysis until I went to therapy. I'm still not a fan of 'interpret your dreams' but I'm happy to accept that sometimes your subconscious is playing around with ideas and associations you wouldn't consciously consider.

I tend to reflect on my dreams more, especially those that really stand out for more. Quiet pondering tends to answer a few questions for me, or pose a couple more.

BTW, I completely get the hair thing. I do the same myself, for many of the same reasons.

flamehair said...

I'm quite the opposite when it comes to hair length. Short hair suits me, long hair does not. Yet every year or so I think about growing it out. I go through the growing out for a few months, hating every second of it and then in a fit of pique I cut it all off.
I just long for the day when people don't make assumptions about my sexuality, my personality and my femininity based on the shortness of my hair.

Leah said...

Cupcakes will help for sure. My hairdresser thought I was a loon when I asked for short hair because I was sick of vacuuming it up.

Anonymous said...

I love what you write about - things I've thought, but never really talked about. I only suit long hair, but long for the buddist nun thing. Sometimes I feel people assume I'm conservative because of it. So there's opportunity for judgement either way - take your pick? And then don't worry about other's opinions - except your partner... and your kids!

sueeeus said...

The Pea Soup family had a gingerbread house for a son's birthday 'cake' recently!

Men, and this is a grand generalization, but it does SEEM to hold for the men I know (and I know and work with many...) prefer long hair, no matter what.

Maybe you need a funky off the wall do that is long yet manageable. Best of luck finding the best of all possible worlds!!

travellersyarn said...

You might be channelling my thoughts about hair - I have a half composed blog post on very similar lines (but, I have fluffy blond hair- ugh!). I met my husband when my hair was an inch long at its longest, and I'm toying with a cut again...