taking it all off

When I was fat, I thought the only things I had any control over were my shoes, my eyebrows and my hair. Everything else was a mess, but maybe you wouldn’t notice if you saw how well groomed I was, right?

And so I spent really a fantastic amount of time hunting down the beautiful shoes that would broadcast around the world my sense of extraordinary style. And researching aestheticians who could give me an eyebrow arch that could cut you. And a hair stylist who would finally turn me into the sassy, punky, cute and sexy, pretty pretty badass princess I was inside my heart, but not on top of my head.

And money. I spent a lot of money too.

I was picky, so so picky, and never quite entirely happy with any of my choices and I knew, because I am not entirely self-delusional and only slightly stupid, that my dissatisfaction wasn’t because my hair looked dopey, it was because I was hunting desperately for enlightenment, peace, and true happiness that I would never achieve in the stylist’s chair but only through a deeply internal spiritual journey etcetera and so forth om mani padme hum, I know, I know.

Even when you’re so completely aware of the lie you’re telling yourself, it’s still so desperately alluring—that it could be that easy, so easy, to get what you want and make your way to who you want to be.

When I was fat, it was a way to try to make up for the fact that I was fat. When I lost so much weight, it was clear that I still wasn’t perfect, but these were obstacles I could overcome. The shoes and the eyebrows and the hair were out there, by god by golly by gum.

I manage to subdue it most of the time, to maintain rationality and be pleased with myself in a general sense, but when depression comes creeping in on all fours, usually in the winter, it’s harder to fight off the impulse to try and instafix everything with another pair of boots and a better hairstylist who is better at hairstyling and personality augmentation.

It’s been happening lately—I was sad. I decided to grow out my hair and have Mermaid Hair, shiny curls to the middle of my back in pastel colors. Except that my hair is fine, and so straight it’s a negative four on the Kinsey scale. And it grows about a quarter of an inch every third century. So I was constantly, eternally frustrated with it, too short, too shaggy, too much of a mess, cut it all off, no wait I’ll grow it now, cut it all off, no wait what was I thinking? Just another frustration on top of all the other frustrations in my life. Another reason to dislike myself.

Last week I was filled with epic loathing when I looked at my latest attempt to grow it out, and I made an emergency appointment and she took it all off and it looked so bad and I cried. Hair is very emotional, you guys.

I thought I’d dye it. Or get another, better haircut. Or grow it out again. Or try a different dye than last time. Something, anything. This documentary show I had been a part of, it was going to air soon and there would be interviews and there was a pit in my stomach about how I’d look in these interviews for this show in which I was supposed to be a beautiful butterfly emerging from a chrysalis but what kind of butterfly has a pile of burned feathers on its head for a haircut?

And then I stopped. And I stepped back and I thought about why I was panicking—this show. This show I had done, that was about figuring out how to be happy. Stepping back from the half-conscious chasing after superficial, temporary pointless things. About how to become whole.

So I decided to stop. Quit. Be done. I was finished.

My girlfriend found a coupon for Great Clips and we headed over and I said to the stylist, please buzz me.

They were very startled, and they said, okay are you sure? Are you sure you’re sure? Are you sure you’re sure that you’re sure?

I said yes, please. I am done.

It was already fairly short on the sides and she took off the top and when she was done I ran my palm over the soft dark fuzz and I saw that I looked nothing like myself and exactly like myself and I was completely delighted.

Women keep saying to me, I wish I could do that! I could never pull it off! And I am proud that I have managed to not jump up and down and shout you can you can you totally can and you should oh my god THE FREEDOM but when I catch myself in the mirror I am jumping up and down inside. I love it. It does feel like freedom. And showering takes half the time and I wake up looking just flawless and it is nice, so nice, to have a reminder every day that I can do this, this being me thing. I don’t need props. I got this.

  7 comments for “taking it all off

  1. February 11, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Pics?

    I hate my hair, esp post surg. I’ve been flirting with a pixie cut for months. I have the same hair you have, also pre-surg–thin, fine, straight, willful, slowgrowth. SUX.

    I’m doing a lot of ponytails and hairspray right now. *sigh*

  2. Ingrid
    February 12, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Hey Jen,
    I read your book during the flurry of press for you. Loved it. Found you on the interweb. Bookmarked your blog.
    Your writing hits the depths of emotion associated with “transformation” with a light, wry touch that makes me feel like it will all be ok. I used to keep a journal, and have some great dysfunctional family memories that are both amusing and deeply traumatizing that I would love to be able to birth, in the form of a book. I realize though, that I have forgotten whatever I used to know about grammar and punctuation, and although in some ways I have become more accepting of myself (at 51), I am still ruthlessly self critical and will probably never try to write that book.
    In the meantime, I look to inspiring folks with words I can live vicariously through. (through with I can live vicariously?? See??–grrr).
    Today I was going to remove your bookmark from my browser because it has been so long since you’ve posted. I have felt kind of foolish still checking. So, imagine my great happiness to find these two posts on this cold dreary winter day!! Yay! I rushed to my TV to DVD your episode, and read these posts with glee :-)
    Please don’t let life, depression or anything else come between you and sharing your words! We are all having ups and downs that we cannot articulate, and feel trapped inside (I do anyway)–so you help to tell “our” stories!
    THANK YOU for writing and sharing. Enjoy that hair freedom!!
    Ingrid

  3. Jennifer
    November 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I am the ONLY Jennifer Larson (mis-spelled) to whomever stole all of this info from me… Also I am 5’5 and weigh 130lbs… And I am not afraid of any person on this planet. My # is 928-460-2949. And for crying out loud somebody better be writing me one HUGE check for this shit!

  4. Jennifer Larson
    November 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I am the ONLY Jennifer Larson (mis-spelled) to whomever stole all of this info from me… Also I am 5’5 and weigh 130lbs… And I am not afraid of any person on this planet. My # is 928-460-2949. And for crying out loud somebody better be writing me one HUGE check for this shit!

  5. Jennifer Larson
    November 26, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    I am the ONLY Jennifer Larson (mis-spelled) to whomever stole all of this info from me… Also I am 5’5 and weigh 130lbs… And I am not afraid of any person on this planet. My # is 928-460-2949. And for crying out loud somebody better be writing me one BIG ass check for this shit!

  6. November 26, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Hi! Thanks for stopping by! Though I am so completely confused by whatever it is you are saying here.

    Best, Jen Larsen

  7. November 26, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    (not misspelled)

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