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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

Gender and Hair

July15

If you follow me on twitter (and why wouldn’t you follow me on twitter?), then you probably already know that I buzzed most of my hair. I left the fringe but the rest is about 1/2 an inch long, very Riot Grrl I guess, pretty dated maybe, but oh my gosssshhhhh I’m so much cooler than I used to be. Hair is hot and hair is heavy and now when there’s a breeze it goes straight to my scalp and neck instead of getting lost in my hair first. It’s pretty awesome.

I’ve spent most of my life with very long hair. I cut it around my senior year of high school and since then have been going back and forth, growing my hair to its longest length (waist length) and then cutting it relatively short again… usually chin length or so.

I was what some people would term a tender headed child. I had long, very fine, very dry, hair and it snarled and knotted constantly. Combing/brushing it was constant agony. Keeping my hair in braids or buns might have helped, but very fine dry hair is also slippery and it would escape. Detangling spray would also help but I don’t think it existed then. So I complained a whole bunch and my mom finally gave in and cut off all my hair.

She might have been pregnant at the time. I’m unsure of the timeline. But I know she stopped hand crafting delicate little girl gowns out of satin and lace, complete with frilly aprons and bloomers, around the time my brother was born. And I started wearing hand me down clothing from my older male cousins. With very short hair.

It.

Was.

Awesome.

Unisex clothing was very much a thing in the early 80s (I was born in 1979), and it wasn’t as uncommon then for little girls to wear clothing that wasn’t pink and plastered with butterflies. But the combo of “obviously” little boy clothing (including a totally bitchin’ pair of yellow canvas shorts with a million loops and tabs and a clip on compass that I called my safari shorts) and short hair meant that suddenly strangers treated me very, very differently.

Suddenly I was “sport” and “tiger” and strange adult men would comment on how big, strong, brave, handsome I was. They’d ruffle my hair and give me candy. People don’t frown and narrow their eyes or make comments when I scrambled around and climbed on things and yelled.

It was amazing.

Eventually my hair grew out again and my mom forbade me cutting it again and I was encouraged both explicitly and implicitly to be more feminine. To dress a certain way, and act a certain way, and talk a certain way, and maintain certain interests while dropping others, and to wear my hair long.

My hair’s short again, shorter than it’s been since that very first hair cut, and I adore it. I probably won’t keep it this short forever– I get bored and like to change things up– but I’ll be keeping it for a while. It feels very liberating.

posted under blogging, hair, life, women | 1 Comment »

The fantasy of being someone else

September6

Kate Harding’s piece on The Fantasy of Being Thin is a really important piece that more people should read. It’s a fantasy I’ve succumbed to myself, both in relation to weight and other things. My life will just be perfect when I finally…loose weight, clear up my skin, find the perfect way of organizing my closet, find the perfect lipstick, find the perfect book shelf, start baking my own bread, get a better job, learn to drive, get a different hair cut, buy better clothing, live in a different building.

If I could just change everything about my life, everything about me, if I could just become unrecognizable and completely different, then I can finally do all the things I want to but am afraid of. Then I can finally be happy.

I used to spend a lot of money on products I never used, mostly make up and skin care and hair stuff. It was like… shouldn’t owning these things count for SOMETHING, even if I don’t actually use them, or only use them sporadically, or use them and then take a shower to wash them out again because I don’t know HOW to use them so just look like crap? I’m making the token effort, here! I’m being an appropriate consumer! Doesn’t that count?

I’ve been fidgety and anxious about my hair lately. About six months after I gave birth, it started dropping out in fist fulls and clumps; a fairly normal post-birth experience that is nonetheless freaky as all hell. I went and got my hair cut from mid-back to jawline. The hairdresser called me “brave.” Then she asked about the bald spots. The shorter hairstyle helped a lot. There was less hair clogging the drain, less hair forming tumbleweeds that drifted forlornly across the floor, less hair for Niko to grab and yank. And it dried faster, out of the shower. It’s down to my bra straps now, and I’m torn between continuing to grow it out and getting it cut short. Very short.

The problem with me and short hair is that my hair, like my nails, grows very very fast. This means that unless I oil my nails regularly, they are very dry and brittle; and this means that it’s very expensive for me to keep a short hair cut maintained. I’d need to go in every two weeks or so or I’d start looking weedy and shaggy. And unlike curly hair which can be very forgiving of home cuts, my hair is very straight (except for the hair that fell out and grew back in) and shows mistakes very, very clearly.

I’m getting to the point. Bear with me.

Someone on my friendslist posted about a haircut recently, very short, with slightly longer bangs. See, you keep the bangs a bit longer, and can play with them and style them. It’s a style that I like. It’s a style I’ve thought of getting before. It’s a style I was lusting after during our recent heat waves where my hair went a week once without ever being dry (it was either damp from the shower or damp from sweat almost the entire week; it was AWFUL). It’s also a style that, to look its best, to look “on purpose,” needs styling and product.

And how likely am I to purchase and use product? To spend time on my hair other than dragging a comb through it and then pulling it back with an elastic?

Do I really want this hair cut, or do I want to be the kind of person who can get a short, edgy hair cut and look good in it, and who has the time and know-how and interest (and money) to maintain the hair cut? Is this where I am, or is this where I want to be because I’m unhappy with something much bigger about where I am?

I’m not sure. I think it’s the latter.

But I need to start living in the now and the reality and stop chasing after the fantasy. What I am, what I have, isn’t bad. I need to take better notice of that.

posted under body issues, feminism, hair, life, stuff, women | Comments Off on The fantasy of being someone else

Things are going to change!

September4

For those of you unaware, ScaryGoRound is ending on the 11th, and will relaunch as something new with less of an imposing archive. John Allison does NOT get the credit or attention he deserves, and Bobbins and ScaryGoRound have both been really excellent strips. I’m excited about what’s coming up next.

Nesko has Monday off (Labor Day!) and we are going to celebrate by working our butts off trying to get the new place ready. The ceiling and possibly some of the walls in the bathroom still need to be pulled down, cleaned out, let to air out, and then replaced. I think the sun room is entirely painted. Once we’ve gotten the living room finished (it’s about 1/3 painted) and the dining room finished (not even started) we’re going to start moving stuff over– mostly all of the boxes we’ve packed so far (books, book, books, extra kitchen stuff, board games, books, out of season clothing) and furniture we don’t use as much. Once that’s out, we’ll have a lot more room here and I’ll post some of the extra furniture we have for sale on craigslist (an old but awesome cabinet sewing machine, some small shelves, a bread maker, maybe a rice maker if I can find all the parts, some chairs).

I am so looking forward to the new apartment. It’s going to be really lovely when we’re done with it, and next year we’re going to start work on the common areas (front and back entryway/stairs), clear out the parking area, do some landscaping, etc. It will be a lot of work, but the building is fantastic.

I got my hairs cut on Wednesday. That’s right, I got all of them cut! I don’t know if I mentioned this, but part of my post partum life has included massive hair loss. Just… chunks of hair coming out. This is normal, but not often talked about. I developed two bald patches that are now thickly furred with new hair. The fallen stuff IS being replaced. However, hair is still falling out and clogging up the drains, getting all over the house, etc. So I got my hair cut pretty short and I love it a lot. Every time I get my hair cut I think “Oh! I love having short hair! This is so great!” and then I go through that awkward growing out phase and HAAAAAAAAAAAATE, and then it’s long again and I think “Oh! I love having long hair! This is so versatile! Also if I cut it I’ll have to go through that awkward growing out phase that I hate!” and I keep it long for a while and then cut it again. It’s the circle of hair life, you see.

I borrowed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!, and it was pretty ok. Some of the zombie stuff was tightly integrated to the plot and just really, really worked. Other stuff stuck out obtrusively and was kind of gross-out slapstick. The fact that so much of it was so well integrated made the crap stuff even crappier. I don’t regret reading it and if someone I know has Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters I will try to borrow and read it as well. However, I wouldn’t pay for either of these books. I do want to re-read Pride and Prejudice (Penguin Classics), and luckily for me I’ve found it on Project Gutenberg.

In babby news, he is sticking out his tongue, sitting up, eating peaches (millions of peaches, peaches for free), and generally being adorable.

posted under baby, Chicago, crass materialism, fiction, hair, health, life, moving, packing, review | Comments Off on Things are going to change!

Dirty Hair Update: Soap Ahoy!

May20

I cleaned my hair last night with sea salt and baking soda in water, rinsed it with lemon juice and water, and then thought it felt greasy. Soaking wet and with no more baking soda in the bathroom, I slapped a bunch of Dr Bronner’s diluted castille soap on the top of my head and worked up a suspiciously greasy lather. Then I rinsed and thought “OH MAN! This took out TOO MUCH OIL. My hair is over clean.” So I rubbed my scalp under hot water and soon my scalp was oily again.

I know it’s only been a week or so, and it can take months for your scalp to calm down and not geyser out oil, and maybe I was spoiled by that one day of not-oily-hair. I don’t know. But I have a sneaking suspicion that I might have to supplement with castille soap once a week or so just to keep my hair from being ass nasty.

Or maybe I’m just not using enough baking soda.

I’m getting kind of tired of having to mix my stuff up before each shower, though. Shampoo is a lot more convenient.

On the other hand, I bought a huge freaking JUG of apple cider vinegar, and I’ll feel wasteful if I don’t use, so that alone might keep me committed to this crazy experiment.

posted under hair, life, social responsibility | Comments Off on Dirty Hair Update: Soap Ahoy!

Dirty Hair update plus OCM

May16

I didn’t take a shower this morning.

I  normally take a shower every morning because if I don’t, I’m greasy and disgusting. Well, really only my face and hair are greasy and disgusting. I don’t shower the night before because normally, if I wash my hair and then go to bed, I wake up with greasy and disgusting hair. Because that 8 or so hours of sleep is enough time for my scalp to go “OH HEY WOAH NUH UH! IT’S OILY TIME!” and gross things up.

So I hear people talking about how they only shower/wash their hair once or twice a week and I just can’t wrap my mind around that. No, I don’t think they’re dirty or anything, but just… not having to shower constantly? Not having to scrub your scalp at least once a day? Having that much free time in the morning? Is that really… is that possible?

I woke up this morning and my hair was not greasy and oily and disgusting. I did not shower this morning. I had an extra 45 minutes and didn’t have to get dressed while still damp and very hurried. I was able to floss my teeth leisurely. A whole new world is opening up for me.

In short, cleaning my hair with baking soda and lemon juice really seems to be working out. I’m still tinkering with the amounts I use (I think I’ve been using too much baking soda) and want to get some squirt bottles so I can get the bs mixture on my roots and not on my hair. But yeah. I’m really liking this so far.

Some of you have commented saying that you’re thinking of going the same route. Here’s some tips that might help you:

  • Start using shampoos and conditioners that don’t have silicone, dimethicone, or anything else ending in “cone” for at least a week. The silicone glues split ends back together. If you stope using a silicone based shampoo/conditioner then eventually the cones get stripped out and the split ends start splitting again. Split dry ends plus early greasy scalp can be really discouraging. I’d been using non-‘con-containing shampoo and conditioner for several months so I think I was able to skip that ookiness entirely.
  • If the baking soda doesn’t work for you, go back to shampoo but try watering it down some. Add more water to the mix every week or so until you kind of plateu, then try the baking soda again.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) can darken light hair, so if you’re blonde, consider using lemon or lime juice. Likewise, citrus juice can lighten dark hair, so if you’re dark, use ACV.
  • The acidic rinse is very important to seal the roughed up cuticle of your hair and normalize your hair’s pH balance. Don’t forget it. Also, ACV can make your scalp feel greasier so try to use it just on the ends of your hair.
  • Rinse the acidic rinse very well or your hair can feel sticky.
  • Don’t use too much baking soda, and use it only on your scalp and not on the body of your hair.
  • If the ends (especially tips) of your hair get dry use a tiny amount of oil. I’ve heard both Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and coconut oil recomended. Just barely wet your fingertips and stroke them through the ends only. Don’t use any on your scalp unless your scalp is really dry.
  • A boar bristle brush will help spread the oil from your scalp/roots to the ends of your hair. I have a lot of fine hair and I seperate my dry hair into sections to brush it. If I just try to brush my hair, the hair on the bottom is untouched. Also, the brush does jack all for snarls/tangles. I’m trying to find a wooden comb to purchase, which should help with oil distribution and also work out snarls/tangles.

The first few times I used the baking soda, I made a paste and scrubbed it in because I was really greasy and had lots of sebum build up. Then I kept doing the same thing when I wasn’t as greasy. Folks online recomend using about a tablespoon of baking soda to a cup or two of water and I’m at a point now where that works really well, but if I get sebum build up again I’ll use the paste once or twice to clear my scalp.

The skin around my hairline, my shoulders, and my back is a lot clearer with smaller and less clogged pores, and I’ve only been doing this a few days.

My face is also super oily and has been since I was 7 years old or so. The more I try to strip off the extra oil, the oilier I get, which kind of makes sense. On a whim, last night I picked up some Castor Oil and tried The Oil Cleansing Method or OCM. I used three parts castor oil to 7 parts sunflower/flax seed oil I had lying around, and also added 3 drops of oregano essential oil and a splash of tea tree oil (the latter two are antibacterial). I was worried about being too oily (adding oil to oil? no way!) but I figured I could always, you know, wash my face afterwards if I needed to. I came out feeling clean and relaxed and my face wasn’t blotchy or overly dry. It was ever so slightly tacky, but not unpleasantly so. I woke up this morning and my face still felt clean and not excessively oily. Usually I wake up in the morning and can scrape off oil. I feel like I could rub my face on a piece of paper and the paper would turn translucent.

I think I am going to do the OCM once a week or as needed, with in between cleansings of Dr Bronners Pure Castille soap, possibly using diluted ACV as a toner (I sometimes get buildup on my ears with Dr Bronners soaps, which is weird).

I’m also trying to transition to a more natural deoderant for my armpits. I’m allergic to most deoderants, and sensitive to a lot of chemicals and scents/perfumes anyway, so the simpler the products I put on my skin and in my body the better.

posted under hair, health, life, OCM | 3 Comments »

Dirty hair! Dirty hair!

May10

I’ve been thinking for a long time (years, actually) about trying a baking soda scrub and apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) rinse for my hair. I’m sensitive (or out and out allergic) to a lot of chemicals and scents and things, so using something simple like that really appeals to me. But I have this paranoia about being dirty or greasy, and for a long time had a lingering suspicion that cleaning my hair with something other than shampoo wouldn’t work because hey! It’s shampoo! Right?

Then a co-worker mentioned in passing that she’s been using baking soda and ACV for four weeks now. Her hair looks great. If she hadn’t mentioned something, I would never have known.

So today I mixed up some baking soda and water to make a paste, diluted some lemon juice in warm water, and went at my hair.

My hair is still damp so it’s hard to tell what the results are.  I’m worried that the hair near my scalp is oilier than it “should” be (and thus will look like crap) but the longer hair that doesn’t directly touch my scalp feels soft and nice. It actually feels kind of like I conditioned it, but I didn’t use conditioner. I also rubbed some of the baking powder paste on my face and that felt pretty nice.

Stay tuned for more gripping updates about my hair. I’m pretty oily and frankly, not having to wash my hair every 12 hours is really appealing. So hopefully this will work out.

posted under hair, life | Comments Off on Dirty hair! Dirty hair!