Friday, March 18, 2011

the philosophotarian is growing her hair

For most of my life, my hair-styling efforts have been aimed at preventing people from seeing what my hair actually looks like.

My hair is very fine, rather thin, and, when clean but un-styled, hangs limply from my head. It's not terribly flattering.

For years I have kept my hair very short. When it is very short, I can make it look a lot thicker than it is with little effort: a little thickening goo, a blow dryer, a flat-iron, some texturizing paste, and about fifteen minutes and I'm done.

When I was very small and suffered from severe acne, my parents would take me to an aunt's house and we would perm my hair to dry it out and give it some body. (It was the 80s. That should explain a lot.) When I got a little older and my skin had cleared up, I still curled and teased and sprayed it to create the illusion of more hair.

I've not stopped putting the goo in my hair. I still blow-dry it, run the flat-iron through it, and add a little paste for texture. But my hair is lying closer to my head than it has in years. This makes me nervous.

I feel more naked with smaller hair than I do with no clothes on. I feel exposed, as though, in some way, I am revealing my limitedness. I am only so much and no more.

I feel less attractive but slightly more honest. I've also been wearing more (and brighter) lipstick. Make of that what you will.

I've joked for years and to many people that I am terrified of anything having anything to do with commitment. Of course I commit to things all the time. Sometimes I commit to silly things, or to things that require little to no thought. Sometimes I commit to things without realizing it (or without realizing it right away, or without having made a prior and conscious choice). It isn't commitment (like having to commit to my dissertation and the fact that I chose to get a Ph.D. in philosophy) that bothers me, actually. What terrifies me is disclosure. Exposure. Revelation. Being identified as a particular something or someone. Committing to myself, to being a self. That makes me extremely uncomfortable.

I wouldn't say I hide. Not exactly. I don't usually mind sharing all kinds of things about myself. I quite enjoy giving my opinion and pronouncing judgments, when I have them. Doling myself out--on purpose, in ways I can see and measure and evaluate--is not a problem. Being identified or identifiable in ways I can't see as well, don't know, cannot evaluate provides a seemingly endless source of anxiety.

I've preferred being a potential someone to becoming a particular person. Found it safer anyway.

I'm sure there are a lot of things I could suggest as catalysts for the growing conviction that there is no real safety in potentiality. That the safety I sought there was only ever illusory. I won't try to determine precisely why or how it is that just now I have felt burdened by the need to become something particular.

My hair is growing. I'm not sure it's the only thing that is changing or has been changing. But I can see it, keep my eye on it, and that's a bit of a comfort.

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