I am on the verge of doing something new with my hair.
And, as always, I catch myself in the expectation that this change is going to result in a glamorous, dramatic, complete transformation. That my hair won’t just change but the shape of my face and the color of my eyes and all of it. I always think it when I get my hair cut, and I am always disappointed when I end up looking like me. When I don’t miraculously end up looking like the models and famous actresses whose hair, and– by proxy– powers, I am stealing. The follicle-based marrow that I have attempted to suck from Tilda Swinton, from Cate Blanchett, and so on.
My short hair has always been an homage, a tribute. I got it all cut off for the first time in the eighth grade for two reasons.
- My badass best friend Ali had cut her hair short, and I wanted to do everything she did, because I love her.
- I wanted to look like Sailor Uranus.
I THOUGHT (think) SAILOR URANUS WAS THE COOLEST. With her fencing and her motorcycle and her boys’ school uniform. I wanted to be her so much that I told my mother in our kitchen one night, “I think I might be gay.”
“No, you’re not,” she said, I think primarily out of confusion.
And that was that. (It wasn’t.)
So, I wasn’t gay, and I was too young and afraid to get a motorcycle, and I don’t think there were any fencing classes in Dacula, GA, so I begged my mom to let them cut my hair off. I pretended that I wanted to look like Mandy Moore on the cover of Teen People.
We went to a Great Clips, and– spoiler alert– I ended up looking pretty terrible. I was (am) a weird, gangly middle schooler with huge front teeth and a bigger forehead, and I just don’t know that the hairstyle has yet been invented that would have made me look cute at that particular point in my life.
[Side note: Eighth grade was also when I had my first boyfriend. Eric Sutherland said we looked like two boys kissing. I wish I’d understand how much that was okay.]
Short hair felt right in my SOUL, but I didn’t look cute! What was to be done? Over the following decade, I let my hair get long and sad and heavy. I put it up in bummer ponytails while it was still wet, because I never learned how to do anything else with it.
And then I went off to a women’s college, and OH, THE PIXIE CUTS. Everyone looked so adorable and perfect! I was so jealous.
But I was also long and sad and heavy, and I needed hair that matched.
But then, nearly five years ago, I was (so happily) forced back into the short hair lifestyle. I was cast as Rosalind in As You Like It. She changed my life forever, and when a fictional character changes your life forever, you might as well get a haircut to let the world know.
This time I did it right. I did my homework and looked up SALONS and found the perfect stylist for me (hey, Kelly!). She has cool monster tattoos, and has never once heard of any television show I am watching, and I adore her. She is the only person who has cut my hair for these five years.
Like Sailor Uranus before her, the absorption of Rosalind into my bloodstream and across my scalp also felt like a thrilling little acceptance of the sexuality that I’m still figuring out. Because, like Rosalind, I mostly kiss boys these days, but I don’t think that I’m straight. At Dragon Con, I found myself in conversation with a stranger who eventually said, “Well, I mean, you’re queer, right?” And I said “yes,” partly because I didn’t want her to feel bad, but mostly because it’s true.
“Well, I mean, you’re queer, right?” I’ve always assumed that it’s the hair that gives me away. And maybe that’s what I hope you’ll assume, so that I don’t have to say anything because I’m still not totally certain that I know what I’m talking about.
In a few weeks, I’m getting my hair not just cut, but COLORED. And, once again, it’s an expression of the love and appreciation I feel for a character who really speaks to me. I wrote here last week about what Good Omens means to me, and things have only intensified since then. To quote my partner: “You ship Aziraphale/Crowley, but you stan Aziraphale.”
It’s Aziraphale’s softness that gets me. Physically and emotionally. Aspects of myself that I’ve always felt were worth punishing… reflected back to me in Aziraphale, they are beautiful and they are wonderful and I love them. I will be pleased by food, and not apologize. I will take care of books and humans alike. I will have standards. I will go at my pace.
I’m not going to magically transform into Michael Sheen, I get that. I will still look like me, just with shorter and brighter hair. But maybe I will look in the mirror on a bad day, and my hair will remind me of the things I love about myself. I will the hair dye to seep into my brain and make me kinder.
My hair changes are all little acts of devotion to those I want to be more like– my friend Ali, Sailor Uranus, Rosalind, and, now, Aziraphale. When you see me, I hope you see a little of the soft, queer, badass tapestry I’m working on.
And, if you’re curious, just ask.