I went to see my psychiatrist when he returned from his three week vacation. Before I could make a peremptory statement about my hair, he said brightly: “New Hair!”
He had no idea what I’ve been through, hair-wise. This is the new corrected hair, a desperate follow-up to the horror of the Real Housewives hair. It is so much better, right? But still a shock to my system and a challenge to my identity.
I started to say something about the hair and he continued happily, “It’s a softer look.”
Naturally, I took umbrage and we talked about hair and self-image for the rest of the psychiatric hour.
I don’t want a softer look, first of all, because that implies that my former look was hard, or harsh. I don’t want a softer look because I don’t want to project “softness.” If I have to project anything, I would choose tough. Then he confused me further by calling my former look “forbidding.” I argued that I wasn’t trying to look forbidding but merely “attractive.”
Then we had to define the audience I wanted to appear attractive to. I explained that I wanted to be attractive to the guy in the next lane if I wanted to cut in front of him. If I’m attractive, he will smile and gesture me into his lane. Being attractive is a tool in one’s social arsenal.
We talked about black hair and red lipstick, which I defended as a classic look, citing Snow White, Betty Page, and Veronica in “Archie” comics. If you have black hair and pale skin, you need to work with what you have. You’re not going to be a California blond, after all. The way I look is pretty consistent with how I looked at eighteen. Clearly, in the eyes of my shrink, I looked like a kooky Goth or maybe a biker/dominatrix.
I had to deconstruct my appearance and think about the message it sends to the world. We are all attempting to project something with our hairstyles and fashion choices. I’d rather not think about it but I discovered that above all I want to look attractive, while still being true to who I think I am. I want to look fuckable and intriguing but I don’t want to look fashionable and I don’t feel comfortable in prints or high heels. I don’t want a Softer Look. I hate change. If I’m not projecting the right Me, I will have to dye my hair black and find a new way to distract myself from the bludgeoning pain of existence. I will also have wasted a fucking ton of money.
Thoughts, confessions, insults?