June 28th, 2007

Hairless Meg

The problem with being unconventional

I am a woman. I'm not rail thin and never will be. I am fairly different from conventional standards of beauty and today it hit me fairly hard.

When I was in high school, despite being fairly well endowed, there was one guy that used to call me "Pat" (referring the character by the same name on Saturday Night Live). I had short hair and often wore baggy clothes, which made me look perhaps a little more androgynous than most teenage girls. I didn't really wear a lot of make-up either. I still don't.

Today, I have a shaved head. Despite struggling to grow my hair out at various points in the past few years, I've realized that I really am more comfortable with it short. I look at my reflection and I think it looks beautiful but a few people have expressed dismay at my lack of hair. Their intentions are good, they honestly think that I have beautiful hair and that's why they're sad to see it gone, but it kind of touched a deep hurt that I have. I had a moment of doubt... maybe I shouldn't have shaved my head... maybe it's just "too different". I felt like crying. And then I saw my reflection in the elevator mirror. The shaved head look is something that I find beautiful. I can't explain it but I find it slims and lengthens my appearance and compliments the features of my face.

The problem with being so unconventional is that it's like swimming upstream some days. I want to be who I am but I'm fighting against 28 years of society's images of beauty that are not only ingrained on my psyche but very different from the way I look. I can't imagine getting married without a full head of beautiful long hair and although that's not an issue for me right now, my friend Dee's upcoming wedding gets me thinking of it. Thankfully, she's happy with a bald maid of honour, so I'm okay there but part of me wants to be "beautiful" for her on her special day. Somehow beauty and hair become synonymous in this case.

I need to hold on to defining myself by what makes me feel comfortable and happy, not what other perceive to be "normal", "beautiful" or whatever.