When I was almost literally falling to pieces at the end of my Creative Writing degree, M was still dreaming of me becoming a famous novelist.
I don’t think I’ve ever been after fame. Quite the opposite, actually. As I was growing up, I was unable to be invisible, and I think this has left its mark. It took years for me to be able to understand that some people chose to be hidden for their own safety, and that their choice to be hidden ought to be respected.
I think that from the beginning, this is not an option I had, as a mixed-race child. This is still not an option I have — at least where race comes into play. My gender is still…uncertain, though.
Just recently I went out and bought a bunch of scarves for me to wrap my head in…if I were to be walking around outside, as has been suggested to counteract the weight gain caused by one of my medications, it would help not to have a head full of pollen when I got back. But really, my hair — it’s been one of these things which unfailingly draws attention to me. I wasn’t able to get away with it in school, at all.
I have very thick, dark, lush, mostly-curly hair. I didn’t know it was actually curly, though, until I cut the length of it off and saw what it did without all that weight and damage. Prior to then, I just knew that it had way too much body and that it was usually frizzy and tangled or snarled. In frustration at not being able to cut it off (I was forbidden to until I was about 18), I had a tendency to rip it off and out with the brush, especially as I became aware of how burdensome it was to me. I didn’t even know that I shouldn’t have been using a brush at all, until after I got rid of the length. Actually, I didn’t even know I had hair at my temples, then, because it always got ripped out before I could see any growth. (Now, after it’s wet, I have tiny, fine corkscrews there — which still tangle easily.)
M doesn’t remember forbidding me to cut my hair off at 16, like I wanted to. Nor do I know what she was afraid of…perhaps that I would become the target of the anti-gay slurs that I was already a target of? (Not that anyone had any clue about my actual sexual orientation; I had no “significant other” throughout my primary and secondary-school careers, so all of the gay-bashing I got was primarily due to my gender presentation…and the fact that the vast majority of high-school boys were too immature for me [we were “girls” but they were “men”?]. The ones I wanted already had girlfriends, or they were attracted to other boys.)
In any case, I do wonder how much of my wishing to cover my hair has to do with not wanting to answer random intrusive questions about it; or to deal with supposedly-friendly uninvited touching of it which causes me to need to wash it when I get home. (Seriously, I don’t know where their hands have been. Or sometimes I do, and that makes it worse, because I know their hands were filthy.)
So anyway, the other day I spent around $50 on four new scarves with which to wrap my head. They’ll work until I can either grow my hair out to the length I want, or decide how to cut it (and even then…I may want to cover it, just because I like the style).
My image seems to be changing as I age; it’s not unusual to see me now in heels and a skirt. Though it was interesting — yesterday, when I dressed up to go to the produce market, and wrapped my hair up so that it was unobtrusive and so that I wouldn’t need to gel it (I dislike brushing hair with gel in it [which I can do, now that it’s short], and I dislike washing my hair [as it takes a long time to dry]), I looked very much (to myself) like I could have been a person of any gender, in a skirt.
It’s possible that this is partially because of the marks on my face from messing with my skin out of stress (a side effect of the scriptwriting class. I find that acne tends to masculinize my image), and/or that my figure was obscured because I wore a button-front shirt. Then there were the boots I’d mentioned before, which look like combat boots, but have a 2″ heel on them. And, of course, I was promptly stopped at the produce market by an older woman who said I had an “awesome outfit.” (She didn’t ask to touch my hair, though!)
The nice thing about this is that I’m actually dressing in a way that’s comfortable for me. I find myself moving towards looser shirts, skirts, and wraps. Not largely, “because that’s what women do,” but because it’s what works. My body is continuing to try and fill out because of the medication and excess sugar (I’m off of sugared beverages again, having gone back up to 145 lbs. from a recent low of 139…it would be very nice to get back down to a muscular 125, though I think my official goal [from my doctor] is 135), so until I can get my hip size under control, it makes sense not to wear tailored clothing at my hips.
The largest drawback to this is a lack of “tops” to wear. I’m used to wearing shirts — Mens’ shirts, with jeans. But since my hips started widening and my belly got a little bigger, I can’t tuck these in or button them down as easily as I used to. So, I’m making the transition over to collared shirts from the Womens’ department, which actually consider that one might be larger in their lower body. I’ve found that skintight clothing looks terrible when it’s too small…not to mention when one’s posture is poor, so I’ve started buttoning these things up instead of wearing camisoles under them.
There is a beautiful boutique I went to the other day which is where I got the scarves from — it might be worth it to go back there and see what I can get which will go with loose, long skirts. And, sweet — I just found some material which says that they do have some nice inexpensive clothing…
Yes, I think I’ll go back there.
First, though, I’ll see what I can wear which is light and which can go with the skirts which I already have…I also am wanting to find some shoes which can go with feminine skirts, and which won’t hurt or damage my feet if I have to stand in them for 9 hours at a time. I’m hoping for something without a heel, due to the possibility that I might have to defend myself at work, though that possibility has been getting dimmer — thankfully.