Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Today I bleached my hair. My haircutter lady will not like this, so I may have to go AWOL from her salon for a while. I bleached it because I want to own my own head. I bleached it because it looks queer and festive. I bleached it because otherwise I look like an overweight lesbian version of my mother. With a nose ring.
When my girlfriend and I first got together, I was getting 10-dollar hair cuts at Big Hair in Roscoe Village. It's one of the scummiest places you will ever contemplate from a barber's chair, but it is fairly impersonal and always cheap. As their name does NOT suggest, "stylists" at Big Hair go fast and heavy with the clippers. One slip and you've got a month to explain that you are not in fact shipping out to Iraq.
My femme girlfriend thought I deserved the luxury of a real salon, so she took me to Art and Science in Evanston. It's one of those places where you put on a smock and consult seriously with your hair professional about what you want BEFORE you even get shampooed.
The problem with places like this, besides the fact thay they are expensive, is that they are not particularly diverse when it comes to gender. Woman plus hair equals feminine, in other words. What's a butch girl to do?
I love my hair lady, though. Her name is Cindy, and she's from Michigan. SHe's the breadwinner in her family. She likes to have real conversations about real things. She's got progressive politics.
But like all hair professionals, Cindy wants control of my hair. She's got a vision. She wants it dark, au natural, cut short in front like Eddie Munster. I like her scissor work, but I think I look like a big triangle with a dark tip. In a strong headwind. The face looking out of the mirror where mine should be looks pale, haggard, and slightly surprised.
So today, I took back my head. I bought a 10 dollar box of Feria extra bleach blonde, divided all the ingredients by half, and gave myself a double process in my very own home. The chemical smell alone drove the cat away. I put the bleach on, wiped my ears, and put Glad Wrap on my head for heat activation. After 45 minutes, I washed it out, my hair the color and loft of Heat Miser's kewpie doo. I let it dry, then put in batch two. This time I also used the hair dryer to boost the chemical reaction. After I washed it out, I put in purple toner shampoo, taking everything down to a nice silvery white.
I still look like a big triangle, but now I'm all Giza, my pyramid top leafed with gold, gleaming in the sun. I look intentional. Punky. Fun. There's nothing accidental or timid here. You won't walk by and not see me. I will not bow before my hair professional. I may not be free, but I'm free enough to nuke my head with scary toxic junk on my own terms. I may have no idea what in hell I will be doing three months or a year from now, but I know tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, I will be blonder than blonde. Malibu Ken blonde. Titanic iceberg blonde.
The great thing about making yourself look ridiculous is that nobody can really look ridiculous if they try hard enough to look that way. But my haircutter lady can't know for sure. Not now. At least, not till I've grown my roots out.