Do you feel like you’ve aged exponentially this year? Or, better question: Do you look like you’ve aged exponentially this year? I do. And not just because of the pandemic, the recession, or the numerous existential crises facing our country.
I’ll start by rewinding to March.
The last thing I did in pre-Covid times was get my usual monthly root touch-up. Five days later, New York City went into lockdown and we decided to rent a house in NJ to be closer to my parents. Hospitals started filling up with sick patients. My lovely hairdresser texted all her clients, offering…
When my dad delivered me,
The first thing he saw
Was a thicket of black hair,
Sticking out straight and wet,
Like fur on a freshly licked kitten.
It took a few months to curl into itself,
Grow quick as mint after rain,
Until it had to be gathered
Into soft, twisted bunches,
Always a few determined fronds
Trying to escape.
Our ritual after swimming,
Was straight two hours
Of washing and blow-drying
My drenched ringlets
Into a triangular mane;
Sharp comb teeth
Gnashing at my scalp,
Pools of pain
Welling in my eyes. …
A bald man.
This is all I am now, I thought to myself.
One of them. The men with no hair.
I gazed into the mirror and applied a gray paste carefully to the top of my head with a spatula. The paste stuck to the remaining hairs, matting them together as questions of a new identity loomed on the horizon like the light of a new day.
The treatment would have been more effective if you had come two years ago, the woman with the Eastern European accent had said to me three days earlier. There is, she grimaced…
I heard a statistic once that said men think about sex every seven seconds. This seemed absurd to the point of unbelievability — until I realized that I think about my hair exactly that often. In fact, I think about my hair more than anything else in my life. If I know you — even if I like you, even if I love you — I probably think about my hair more than you.
In a podcast interview with Marc Maron, pop research psychologist Brene Brown discussed shame and listed examples of what people think of when they think about…
Five years ago, someone said I had a beard.
By “beard,” I mean the thin and thick blonde and brown hair that’s been sprouting all over my cheeks, chin, and neck since childhood. And by “someone,” I mean an anonymous online commenter. (Yeah. That’s how all this began.)
I was living in Portland, Maine, at the time with my college boyfriend, and he started a food blog that became relatively well-known. One day, a reader — angered over something my boyfriend had cooked or baked or written or done — posted a spew of insults on his site…
A woman leans into my colleague, Karen. “Does she have cancer?” she whispers, pointing at me across the room, as if saying the words might put her at risk.
Karen shakes her head no.
“Then why does she wear her hair that way?” she asks, referring to my nearly naked head.
“Because she likes it,” Karen replies, smiling unapologetically.
She’s right. I do.
I like it better than any other style I have worn in the last 45 years; better than the red Amelie inverted bob with short Claudette Colbert bangs, better than the pixie with chunky blonde…
I knew what was supposed to happen that day. I woke up with it on my mind. My way of preparing was to take my umbrella to school — though the weatherman hadn’t said anything about rain. I brought it just in case I had to use it to knock somebody in the head. I’m not a violent person but it seemed as if the entire school were anxious for a fight. It was supposed to be between my friends and another group of girls who hung as tight as we did but who hated us more than we did…
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