I'm not sure why I was so blindsided by the question. I mean, I know it has been asked before of women who lack hair, and this was just the person to be asking it, a wide-eyed, blonde-bobbed young girl who was also waiting in line to use the bathroom at the campground. I replied a cheery, "Yes, I am," and that was that. Only it really wasn't because I am still upset by it. 

I was having a fine weekend, my sense of self confidence bolstered by my 9 year old's birthday party at a climbing gym. I climbed with the kids and felt strong, capable, and able to bond with my son by challenging him to go as high as his 47 year old mom. I wore a short, blonde wig, so I could pass for normal without being uncomfortable, and it worked. But waking up from a sweaty, smokey night in a tent, I didn't reach for the wig but just a thin, bright pink cap. Even with the innocence of the question, I felt it as a judgement. No, I am not a young beauty with or without hair, but was my morning face really so ugly that I looked like a man? I tell myself that it was just about the hair, that the little girl saw, even if she didn't recognize that that was what was different, that I had no hair, and in her cookie cutter categorization, that said "boy."

I want to be the "girl" who when first challenged by a towering climbing wall, went straight to the top. I want to be the girl who is the mommy of the mommy and daughter pair of my three year old sweetie with her curly, blonde tresses. And I have to hold that identity in my heart even if, when I go out into the world as myself, I am seen as something less certain, less valid. When I was a child, I sometimes got mistaken as another boy between my brothers, and I recall feeling more smug that I was right and they were wrong than upset by it. Even if not always sure how to display or promote my femininity, being more tomboy and science geek than made up woman, I have gone through life certain that I was feminine by definition. I haven't chosen or been forced to play with gender limbo. Now though, do I need to add on adornments of femininity just to get back to "normal?" Even as I have been intrigued by societal constructs and categorizations, having them land at my feet when I am just going about my business, is new and unsettling. I write this here because I am afraid that if I tell my husband or my mother of the girl's question, they will judge me too and tell me I look better with hair. Yeah, I know. Tell that to my hair please. Thank you for listening.

Views: 432

Comment by GardenJess on March 16, 2015 at 12:23pm

Thanks. It's nice to hear from someone who really does get it. I also had thoughts of using it as a teaching opportunity, but it wasn't really the time or place. Not surprisingly, I'm around kids all the time, and they see me mostly with a cap or hat and not a wig and almost never say anything. I think I was lulled into a sense of it really not being that noticeable, but maybe the word has simply gotten out that I don't have hair, or the kids who see me as my kids' mom think I'm odd looking but aren't puzzled by it.

I'm starting to worry that my 9 year old is getting to an age when the innocence of childhood is on the way out and classmates might be mean to him about my appearance. While I still feel like that would be an opportunity to learn and learn to deal with people, it does raise uncomfortable issues about whether choosing my head covering based on my preference alone is somehow selfish.

Comment by Nicola on March 22, 2015 at 1:37pm

I went back to school in 2012 and had just started shaving my head and one of the instructors said to about me in my presence that I was "probably a girl".  It's funny how just the presence or absence of hair automatically puts into question your gender, isn't it?

Comment by Cheryl, Co-founder on March 24, 2015 at 4:25pm

Hi GardenJess, I have also had a similar experience but it was with a woman a gym who mistaked me as a man.  I wrote about it on my page in a blog called,  "A pink shirt oughta cover the pain".  At the time I was also blind sided.  I tried to brush it off but definetely it stayed with me.  My grandson is almost 5 and will be starting school soon, up until now I don't think he knows the difference.  But I am sure as more and more kids start asking him questions or perhaps teasing him about his bald grandmother I may feel a twinge of discomfort again.  In all these case we have to remind ourselves who we actually are.  Locks of hair does not make us a woman any more than it would on a man with long hair.  A woman means much more than tresses and we have to remember that.


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