a girl nowhere to be found (satanbaker) wrote in get_up_dread_up,
a girl nowhere to be found

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Philosophical angst about my hair, society and... stuff

Okay. To start off, I'm sixteen and a halfish years old, and possibly as white as you can possibly be without being from Denmark (British Isles mutt with an 1/8th Cherokee that got drowned by the Welsh). I'm homeschooled, and while my mother would probably be termed as a liberal Christian, my older sister is solidly atheist and I'm terminally confused in an agnostic kind of way. Though I find Haitian Vodou far too interesting than is probably healthy.

On the subject of my amazing whiteness, the one time I've ever been in a formal schooling type thing was when I took the reading test to try and get my Learner's Permit. On the little sheet with 'What race are you' or whatever, I was wondering whether or not I should check the 'Native American' part, and the extremely snooty black girl who was waiting before me says in a truly awful voice "You're white."

I was a little shocked at the time. Mostly because she was just a bitch, though.

But, well. I've got extremely pale skin, I mean extremely pale. The one summer I had a tan line, my "tan" was post-winter sallow for most normal "white" people. I have blue eyes and naturally straight dark brown hair. My hair when my younger was dead straight, I mean you could put it in hot curlers and five minutes after you took them out it would fall back to straightness. But somehow my aging has, while not made it wavey, gotten to the point it does hold shape.

I have... always had a very interesting relationship with my hair. I have an interesting relationship with myself, point blank. I only recently got an Asperger's diagnosis, but you never would have said I was normal. But, well. You know how the typical non-attention seeking cutter pathology is that it's a release of tension? Well, while I don't cut my skin, I cut my hair. Twice now I have sheared my hair to the point we just shaved it off so I didn't look like I had mange. But even before then, I just... cut my hair. Compulsively, sometimes.

After I shaved my head the first time, I tried letting my hair grow out, and it got past my shoulders when I got into one of my spells, and it fixated on the fact that my hair wasn't right. It wasn't straight enough, it had split ends, it kept getting tangled, it wouldn't be hair correctly and I chopped it off to a bob cut.

Then when it had grown back to the point that I could braid my hair by myself, it just came again. I just had to cut my hair. No reason for it, I just had to.

My hair is growing out from then, and while it's different lengths compared to where it is on my head, it's probably around three inches long. I got more than a few 'dear lord, I hope her leukemia recovery is going well' looks this summer.

Now, a lot of my psychological angst is the fact that I have this constant feeling of this is not right, and I have to be right. Just, finding out what is "right", well. Let's just say it's not exactly an easy prospect when you live in Oklahoma and like wearing kimono to WalMart.

And, well. With my hair, I've tried having perms, I've tried having short hair, I've tried growing my hair out, and it's never seemed to work. And while my hair has been growing out this summer and autumn, I've been thinking, "would maybe dreads be the thing?"

I've always just liked the way dreads look. Specifically I like the thick, soft looking ones, especially when they're long. On anyone, a guy from the Caribbean or a little blonde chick from Sweden, I just like the way they look.

And because I read about just about anything, I read about dreads. I've read about the African pride and Rastafarian movement, I've read about Buddhist ascetics who didn't cut their hair or nails, I've read about the Polish Plait and how people thought it was a symbol of luck. I've read about it all. How it's a sign of natural beauty or rebellion or any of these things.

I've also read about cultural appropriation. And I can't help but feel that the words they use, of segregation and white privilege and everything else, and think of almost the same exact arguments that I see white supremacists use. And even just going by "Caucasian" culture, if I were to only concern myself with my "proper" culture and heritage, what about my love of Finland? Or my interest in French cinema? Or the fact that I know about the ancient culture of Dacia, which is now (mostly) Romania? All of these I would not be allowed to, in their words, appropriate. The fact that I was born in the United States of America basically means I don't have an individual culture. There is no such thing as a purely White American culture. To make matters worse, I grew up in those amazing formative years with my dad in the army. I was born in Maryland, I have memories of living in Hawaii (the military in Hawaii, talk about diverse), currently I live in Tahlequah, the Capitol of the Cherokee Nation. And it's not even like I identify solidly with any of them, or could find singular acceptance with any group I have yet found.

Part of my problem with living in the world as it is, is my brain is obsessed with order and chaos. Parts of it fall apart if there is not order, and other parts rebel just for the sake of rebelling. Other parts just righteously don't care about any of it. But the entire feeling that I get, is that... I'm always in the middle ground. Never have I been able to freely say "I agree with this", because I can always think of the opposite argument. I have what I think of my own morals, but I can find the relative morals to anything. Truly, just about anything. I've mostly become complacent to the fact that I'm just weird, different, unique, one of a kind, whatever, that no, I won't find anyone who shares all of my interests, but I can't help but try and strive for some sense of belonging.

The fact that I have no solid sense of morality or belief structure, nothing that I exactly conform to, means you can look at me and think one thing, assign some list of meanings that obviously I must follow, and there's a slim chance you'll be right. I don't shave my legs or my armpits, but it's not out of some sense of being natural or following nature, mostly it's because my hair grows so fast it seems I can feel stubble in hours, and the feeling of stubble drives me up the wall (mmm, sensory issues!). I own all of three pairs of western-style trousers, mostly I wear skirts or dresses, but it's not because of an religious belief. It's just because I prefer how skirts look, and also because I am of the rather traditionally womanly proportions, and look like crap in trousers most of the time.

If I do choose to consciously form dreads, it will not be because of any deep spiritual belief, whether in "counterculture" or because it signifies your defiance of cultural oppressors. Possibly the only reason I would choose not to do so is because I would not wish to have another visible cultural icon people would mislabel me with. If I choose to do this, it will simply because I want to. Because I think it might look nice.

But still, the fact that a large part of my malfunctions as a human are part of extreme social anxiety (not quite agoraphobic, but it gets kind of close sometimes), the fact that if I choose to do something that I think looks nice, just like wearing a kimono or salwar kameez, there will be people who love me for honoring and using part of their culture, think it's the most amazing thing that I want to wear a sari and watch Bollywood movies, or learn to read hiragana, the fact that dreads have such a purely political meaning in so much of the United States, while having mehndi and wearing a salwar kameez will just make people give me looks like an idiot, if I choose to have dreads, I am bringing upon the scorn from both sides of the "racial" lines, for so many different reasons.

If maybe syndromes like Asperger's were more widely understood I would have an easier time, but since the simple fact that some people fancy people of their own gender is so atrociously awful to some people they label them as defective, subhuman, trying to explain that honestly, I am actually just wired so differently from the "norm", the neurotypical, that certain behaviors that most of the rest of humanity, let alone my "peer group" (taking into consideration race, age, gender, social stratosphere), just seem completely alien to me. And there are things I do, things that just come completely naturally to me, that make even my mother who's lived with me all my life go '... that was weird'.

But, part of what I guess is my 'Asperger's' diagnosis, is I hate it when people misunderstand me. I hate it. It completely tears me to pieces when I mean something in one way, and they completely misinterpret it. Which of course makes having nonstandard social skills a DELIGHT. I don't mind people thinking I'm weird. Because it's true. I am just weird. But the thought of anyone looking at me, with whatever my head looks like, and judging me as a stupid privileged white chick who knows nothing of struggle or oppression, and I'm entirely responsible for the further strife of uncounted people...

And I know that's a broad generalization, but when you are in possession of an extremely paranoid, extremely reflexive brain, that's what it reads into everything.

I see these people saying these things, and I can't help but think, how dare they take up this flag of separation, that only those who by the chance of birth, only they are allowed to have their hair look like something? What about those who's chances of the single most human right, of having human relationships, is so utterly flawed by that same chance of birth? If I did this to my hair, it would not be to remove myself from the "norm", because even if I tried to be the most perfect little Presbyterian girl or whatever, I could not. I have no choice in not being normal.

It's, just. I want to. I want to try having dreads. I don't want to let the fear of what society might label me as stop me from maybe finding the thing that will be my thing, the thing that stops my brain from compulsively cutting my hair. I just don't know if I'm strong enough to bear the burden of political scorn from such a visible, obvious thing. I mean, I know well enough not to talk about my love of socialism to my so-classically-conservative-libertarian-republican to my father. But there isn't a big brand on my forehead that says "Dirty Pinko Commie", to know such a fact I would have had to admit to such a fact. And if I am that, why should I be ashamed of admitting to it?

But I just don't know if I could handle someone coming up with such deeply entrenched social hatreds just by looking at me. I can handle being weird, I don't know if I can handle having someone feeling the centuries of oppression when they look at my head.

And this is all even without thinking about the best way to go around making the damn things.

(Holy crap, I so did not mean to write that much. But, uh. Would so so so so so appreciate it if anyone could add their thoughts. Feel free to call me a lunatic. I already think I am.)

EDIT: I am dumb and messed up the LJ cut.

SON OF EDIT: Thank you all so much for your lovely, lovely comments. I would try and respond individually buy my brain has kind of died from the 'yay they didn't call me a crazy bastard!' (had a bad experience with a fanart exchange just a few days ago. >>;) Just, you all helped for me to believe in humans again. Might sound really weird, but it's true. Thank you.
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