Ugly & Beautiful

I Apply My Personality in a Paste.


–I apply my personality in a paste.

–Oh, I doubt that very much.

–Well, you don’t know me. Do you.

(Clementine and Joel, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

If you know me personally, you might have noticed a pattern: when I’m in a low spot, I do something dramatic to my hair. Often, I chop it. Sometimes it’s dye. This time, with a baby biting my arm and a preschooler trying to run away from me in the store, I grabbed a box of blackish purple. None of the photos I’ve taken so far have really done it justice, but believe me, the purple comes through.

At first, when I saw it, my heart sank. It was exactly the color represented on the box but as usual, I hadn’t thought it all the way through. Dark hair really highlights the imperfections of my face, of which there are many. Which means makeup. Every day. More than just Chapstick and mascara. Also, while I thought I chose one that lasted up to eight weeks, it turned out to be permanent. Eight weeks of vibrant color, it said. So it’ll fade, but I will have roots. Which means upkeep. Which means grr.

I’ve written about changing my hair before. When I chop it, I feel more androgynous, especially being tall and without demonstrable curves. If I want to feel feminine, I feel like it takes a lot more effort to achieve “pretty” rather than “handsome.” When I dye it, I feel like I have to live up to the drama of the hair color, which once again takes more than my regular level of effort. And maybe it doesn’t read to my friends and family, but I feel like a different person depending on the state of my hair, the amount of makeup on my face, how I’m dressed. And I certainly notice a difference in the way I’m treated when I look one way or another. But it’s kind of fun to feel a little different for a while. I guess that’s why I go back to the scissors or the beauty supply when I’m in a rut. Because even if I don’t particularly like it, it shakes things up. Like when I used the buzzers:


Or when I went blonde:


And then when it grew out a little:


I felt distinctly different at each of these moments in my life. Though it probably wasn’t really the hair, the hair certainly reflected it. Here’s hoping the purple phase will be a fun one, and that it will help me get out of my latest funk–the coming spring might help with that, too.


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