Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You Must Be Confusing Me With Someone Else's Hair

(Andrea & Luke, Christmas picture)

(Craig and Andrea, Knox College, 1994)

Recently, on the phone, at work:

(Helping a patient with an issue) Patient: "What's your name?"
Me: "Andrea."
Patient: "Oh, Andrea. Are you the pretty one with long, dark hair?"
Me: "No, I'm the ugly, older one with short, spiky hair. Melissa's the pretty one."
Patient: "Right. Melissa. You're the other one. Well, thanks, Andrea."
Me: "Yeah, you're welcome."
(Hangs up phone)

Melissa IS the pretty one, in sort of an obvious way. She's very young, a point in her favor against me pushing 40. I don't know why I responded to the patient with not only the fact that I was old but also UGLY, but the guy caught me off-guard, and clearly I wasn't having a very good self-esteem moment. But as Craig tells me, "Your self-esteem issues are YOUR self-esteem issues." This I do realize.

I'm endlessly fascinated by the short hair vs. long hair vexing debate in contemporary society. I used to have long hair--in high school (big, long, ratted 80's hair) and cut it shoulder-length when I got to college and went for a less laborious look, as the big hair era was coming to a close.

During my sophomore year, which would've been '91-'92, I cut my hair to a short bob, which I liked, but somehow spontaneously let Craig's ex-girlfriend (a brave move, in hindsight...she could've shaved me bald out of spite, but somehow or another, we always got along...) Heather, take clippers to my hair and shave my head, leaving only the ear-length bob, with nothing underneath, so that when the wind would blow, I'd have half a shaved head from any direction. THAT, I thought, was cool. Heather had short, sort of shaved hair too, so I figured that was a mark of attractiveness that Craig admired.

I recollect that Craig liked my punky look, and he has said even recently that he always found me attractive from day one, which I cease to believe entirely, because I found out early into our relationship that he found it necessary to close his eyes and fantasize about women with long hair (ok, to be honest, women in certain "situations") in order to, you know, with me. That crushed me and I went running to his psychology professor for an explanation. All she could offer me was that it was how Craig's internal processes were programmed, and likely there was nothing I could do about that, but that it wasn't about me, per se. It was about him and what he needed to do. I left her office less than satisfied with her explanation. I took it personally but chose to ignore it and moved on. I was proud of how my hair looked anyway, though I was often mistaken for a lesbian (not that there's anything wrong with that; it just wasn't how I rolled. Stereotypes suck.).

When I met my best friend, Kate, back in '92 at Knox, she had gorgeous, long, chestnut brown hair that she'd always do to the nth degree. Rarely would I see her without her having curled and fixed her hair, even on a day when she was just in her studio painting and I was lying on her studio floor just thinking about life and talking about Yoko Ono and listening to Kate Bush. Kate made the bold decision to go blond a few years ago and noticed a dramatic change in the way men, who'd always flocked to her anyway, reacted to her. Not only is there something about a woman having long hair, but a woman with long BLOND hair seems to be every man's ideal. Don't get me wrong-Kate's the ultimate non-conformist, but she takes pride in her appearance and she does indeed have gorgeous hair. I think she views the blond move as an interesting social experiment and she pulls it off without a hitch.

I asked her last night on the phone why, she thinks, men prefer women with long hair. She honestly didn't know herself, but said that a friend of hers, who's apparently a total slut, said that men prefer long hair on women because they fantasize about women going down on them and watching their flowing hair in motion during the act. Of this, I was not aware.

Perhaps many women, certainly NOT Kate, hide behind their long hair because they're ashamed of their faces, or whatever. I had a friend in college, Jason, who was a painter, who encouraged me to indeed shave my entire head, because he said I had a "beautiful skull." I told my mother that if I ever had cancer and lost my hair, I wouldn't get a wig and would just walk around bald. She said I could pull that off because I had the right kind of face.

I dunno, Chris, at least, always liked my hair short and spiky. When I'd get a new haircut, he'd always compliment me on it and run his hand across my head to feel the spikes. Other people, a lot of them other patients at my practice, unlike the rather rude one during the aforementioned phone conversation, compliment my short hair a lot, often asking me how I get it to spike up and stay that way (water wax, FYI). My short hair is one of the things that define me physically. I wouldn't dream of growing my hair out ever again.

My hair does indeed take some vain time to perfect every morning. The water wax has to be just the right smearing and consistency on my hand to spike up all the spikes all over my head. I ritualistically get my hair cut every 4 weeks. My favorite hair stylist, Allison, is on maternity leave until early January, leaving my hair in the hands of Britney, who does it differently and I don't care for it as much, but these things happen. That's the downside of my hair. The upside? I can go out the next morning in my pajamas and run errands without worrying about how my hair looks because it hasn't moved an inch since I went to bed the night before.

I had another ex-boyfriend, Art, the toxic alcoholic one from summer of 2007, who mysteriously wanted to marry me but under the condition that I grew my hair out. He hated my short hair and made no bones about reminding me of that. I grew it out a little, but it just wasn't ME. I wasn't going to conform to Art's preference under any condition. (We split up soon after that, thank God.)

There are always going to be guys who are into girls with long hair, though it seems like the other camp, the ones who like short hair, are few and far between, and almost afraid to admit it, because it goes against male society's norm.

I recently read a blog entry from a Beatles merchandise site about Yoko Ono's decision to cut her hair short after John Lennon died. She still wears her hair short, to this day. The blog said:

"Yoko Ono is known for her strikingly long black hair covering her face in the sixties. Yoko now admits that she was hiding behind her hair because she was insecure about her looks. As a child, her mother would tell her she had a strong jawline like a guy and that it wasn’t womanly. Yoko thinks she got her strong jawline (which I think looks great) from her Dad. Yoko told ContactMusic that she has always felt she had more masculine than feminine features adding, “I wouldn’t say I am particularly feminine”.

Yoko now admits, “I used to hide my jaws with my long hair” and “I kept to myself”.

John Lennon would reassure his wife Yoko of her beauty continuously. He would move the hair from her face and tell her to show her face because it’s beautiful. He questioned why she would hide behind her hair. But, John Lennon’s mean streak would come out now and then, and he’d tease her by calling her…

a “martian” because of what she calls an unusually large head for her body."

Oh, Yoko. I think Yoko's going short-haired was a powerful move on her part. An act of independence. A way of acknowledging John's insistence that she was beautiful, when she didn't always believe it herself. I posted the link to the above referenced blog to my Facebook, and now everyone's busy slamming Yoko for being ugly and not knowing what John saw in her in the first place. That's so unfair. Yoko is exotically beautiful, not cookie-cutter type, and John thought she was gorgeous. That's what mattered.

I'm not about to shave my head again, unless it becomes medically necessary, but I'll be damned if I'm ditching the spikes. I might be Chicago's proverbial ugly duckling, not the conventionally pretty one in the office, but I have some of the best fucking hair in the city. Unabashedly. So I have that going for me.
















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