Friday, October 22, 2010

Thank You, Young Man

When I was in second grade I had very long hair.
Like Rapunzel.

One day my mom took me to have my hair cut.
While I was there, I saw a picture of a girl with a very short hair style.

So on a whim, I decided I was going to cut all my hair off.
My mom allowed this, because she was nice about letting me make my own decisions.
Even though I was 7.

She asked me if I was sure several times.
But my mind was made up.

So the haircut was done.

I was very excited. A weight had been lifted off my head, literally.
Everything was breezy!
I was just like Mary Anne in that Baby-Sitter's Club book where she cuts her hair and starts wearing make-up.

Except that Mary Anne was much older than me.
She had boobs.

People could easily discern that she was a woman.


So begins a very traumatizing experience in my young life.
I was constantly mistaken for a boy.

Just when I was beaten down enough, wearing dresses and girlish clothes ALL THE TIME, I had to run the attendance sheet to the front office at school.

I remember what I was wearing - an all-purple outfit, in a floral fabric. With a little vest.

I handed the sheet to our front desk woman.
She said, "Thank you, young man."

I was immediately crushed, I mumbled "I'm a girl."
There is no way she heard me.

Not too long after that I was waiting in line to use the restroom.
The other young girls began screaming, "There's a boy in the bathroom, aaaah!"

At first I didn't realize they were talking about me.
Then they started pointing and saying, "This is the girls bathroom!"

This time I was louder.
"I AM a GIRL."
But they did not stop.
So I kept repeating it all the way to the stall.

Then I got a perm.
Like Annie.
It did not help with things really.

The hardest part about this haircut was that, while I did not want it anymore, it was impossible to grow out.

It looked like a mullet.

A mullet, for whatever reason, was much worse than being mistaken for a boy.
So I kept hating it and getting it cut again.

Eventually I resigned myself to growing it out.
Pictures of me from that time are...upsetting.

It finally grew out and I was a girl again.

But some sort of crucial self-image damage had been done.
For the rest of my life, even now, there are times when I feel like a dude.
And I think that everyone around me thinks I am one.

This usually only happens when I am with a group of girls.

I don't know how to talk to them.
In some part of my mind, I think I still worry they will suddenly start yelling "There's a boy!"

Like I'm that coyote that dresses up like a sheep to fool that dog.

It's probably why I don't have many girl friends.
It's definitely why I won't cut my hair shorter than my chin.

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