I Long for a Pixie Cut, But I'm Still Dressing for Men

As gendered and retrograde as it feels to say, I have to try to make the silk purse with the sow's ear I'm given, because nobody wants to put their penis in a sow's ear.
Publish date:
December 22, 2011
hair, short hair, being a terrible feminist, Sex,

I was looking at one of those "year end" lists of the most attractive celebrities, because I am very busy and important and hard-working.

I usually try to avoid the comments section of the gossip sites I feel bad for visiting in the first place, but this one was was riiiiight under the photos. Under one beautiful actress, a particularly angry reader had written, "Ugh, ugly face though! there is NOThING WORSE than women getting by on they're hair" (sic implied).1) What? Is there really "nothing worse" than this???2) This is a thing?3) Oh my God! I rely on my hair!I've written before about how I love the pixie cut. I think, in theory, it looks adorable. You know, the way cap sleeves look good on the hanger but on my body, turn me into one of those 100-lb toddlers on "Maury." (If I reference Maury a lot, it's because it's basically the cultural touchstone of our time. Cotton ball man, right? Maury!) I love it on female celebrities, and I think it's incredibly sexy. I myself have had about a thousand short haircuts... in my youth. But until I get to that phase where I'm so secure in my age and my sex life that I don't need my hair to keep me feeling marginally bangable, I will not be brave enough again to cut it off.The fact is, I am not (traditionally) girly in the least. My sister shops for my clothes like the mother of me, her teenage son, and knows the rules: no ruffles, no pink, no purple, no lace, no cap sleeves, no three-quarter length sleeves. Skirts and dresses are okay if they're in colors somebody might use to decorate the trophy room of an English manor.I had no breasts or hips until I junior year of high school, which was not coincidentally the end of my short hair era. I got my first pixie at the age of four, because I was one of those kids who starts crying when a comb got within a foot of my head.

Even though I loved never having to brush or be brushed, I was so sick of being mistaken for a boy that I got into a pattern of growing it out, not being able to deal with it, cutting it, and then hating the way I felt. Like Samson, if his strength were not horrifying people with his busted grille.To this day, I am terrible at hair. I can't braid, I can't modulate amounts of product, I dye it too much. When I was 15, my longish hair was in such shit shape that my sister and I got looped on Cape Codders and shaved it all off. Here's me at homecoming:

Here's the problem: I love short hair, but I hate the way I feel with it.I have a huge face, with Quite the Chin and a big nose, which you are not supposed to have with any kind of overly visage-bearing hairdo. You are not supposed to have these things, period, but I was born with them and I am afraid of having my face cut up.

Although I am not opposed to plastic surgery for people who want it: I think judging people for getting nose jobs is like getting mad that people get braces or wear white jeans. Let people do what they want to do.Like 99% of us, I am often Very Unhappy with the way I look. A bad side effect of this is constantly looking to other people for what I should do about it. I also asked my best guy friend how he felt about pixies, and he said that they only work on pixie women. Tiny, with good bone structure and small breasts.

As I am an F cup and more of a "manic ogre nightmare girl," I can't pull off flimsy sundresses and adorable Marissa-Tomei-in-that-RDJ-movie-where-he-is-so-high-the-whole-time spit curls. We've discussed the extreme First World problem of feeling residual ugliness from childhood, and yes, while I am not obsessed with my looks, I can't say that being the real-life version of that ugly baby from "The Simpsons" didn't have an effect on me. I mean, I was head-turningly unfortunate looking as a kid, while now I like to call myself "homely plus." I am a 28-year-old woman, but insecurity-wise, I am that weird kid from your third grade class who put French fries in his milk for attention.

Yes, sure. I have my moments of take-my-own-picture-for-Facebook narcissism or even just plain "feeling okay" with the way I look.

But I will always think of my face as fat and Slavic and unfuckable, even when I was a 12-year-old who weighed like 30 pounds and hated being called "a boy" while dressing almost exclusively in plaid and carpenter jeans.

But I'm also the anti-Emily in that I'm not girly, and if I didn't have a crazy uneven complexion I would never wear makeup. I don't enjoy the process of prettying up, and while a pair of lacy La Perla hot pants makes me feel sexy, I've never had the urge to like, do what my teenage sister does and invite 40 friends over to put on makeup and get cute for a high school football game.

There are women AND men who love the makeup and products and fancy outfits, putting on a nice suit or looking great for the club or the fashion magazine where they work. I am not one of them -- I only dress up for other people, and so I generally rely on other people to tell me what looks good.

And what I hear is "long hair," and "less of your face," both from the ubiquitous, monolithic evil of Ads and Magazines, but also from the people I would like to be attracted to me.The fact is: I hate my face, and I go out of my way to cover it with things. It is the tragedy of my life that women aren't the sex that is not expected to cover its zits and can grow beards, because you can bet I would be the first one with no makeup and a full-on hulihee. I admit: I'm a pussy. I wish I could be radical about it, but I'm a coward and I like sex. I've always disagreed with the maxim that women dress for other women, because a lot of what I do to improve or maintain what I would have on a desert island without Sephora or waxing is purely so that I'm attractive to the people I'd want to sleep with.

I think of it as covering up what I have -- which means covering up my extreme nearsightedness with contacts, covering up my uneven skin tone with concealer, and compensating for my face with my hair. I have so much respect for the magnificent and wonderful Lesley and try to read her advice about learning to be comfortable in your body. I recognize that coming to terms with your body is an ongoing process. But sometimes, I forget where to draw the line between what I do to "feel pretty" and what I do to "look okay to others." I'm not a woman who wears makeup because I like wearing makeup -- I do it because if I stopped, my appearance would "go to seed" so to speak. Yes, sometimes I'll put on lipstick and go, "Well, that's a cute shade." But I actually see it as "maintenance" or counterbalancing my fugliness and "masculine" trait of Not Giving a Fuck About Clothes, and not as something that makes me feel good. I don't use sex to feel attractive, but as I've said before, somebody being attracted to you is an implicit compliment, and somebody not wanting to have sex with you inevitably conveys the opposite.

I'm not saying I agree with it or am all right with feeling that way -- I'm saying that being attracted to somebody who's like, "Hmm, no thank you" suuuuuucks. I have trouble not taking that personally. I'm ashamed of this, and I'm admitting it.

Duh, yes, I am a straight woman, and male attention feels great. (From men I want it from -- not from subway creeps or sundry pervs, TWITTER.) So does your lady friend telling you you look so pretty today. As gendered and retrograde as it feels to say, I have to try to make the silk purse with the sow's ear I'm given, because nobody wants to put their penis in a sow's ear. (Well, almost nobody. I haven't checked the Internet but I'm sure it's out there.)

For me, long hair is a palliative for what I see as the terminal disease of my face. I don't mean this as a cry for help -- I don't want you guys to be like, "Your face is fine! You're crazy!" I'm admitting that this is a problem I have that I'm geniunely afraid I am -- pardon my borrowing language from ol' 12-step McCombs -- powerless over.I hate that I equate long hair with feminity and female attractiveness because other people do. The fact is, I'm a girl who loves dick and would prefer to roll out of bed, put a pair of overalls over an oversized T-shirt and be done with it, if I could. But I hope I get comfortable with the bones and fat and follicles I'm working with some day, and I'm sad that right now, I'm not brave enough to stop covering it up.