Monday, December 12, 2011

Thoughts on Identity

I've always seen myself as eminently normal. Middle of the road. Average. Plain and boring. I also suck at remembering names and I can never place names and faces together if anything at all is different from that first meeting. (In other words, if I met you at work, you might look familiar at the grocery store, but I won't know you.)

All this put together makes me absolutely amazed when someone recognizes me. Or compliments me. (Also I have well and truly left thin behind despite my occasional fantasy of jumping up and down on the Wii. When I'm picturing it, I'm screeching, "Obese! I will show you obese!")

Recently, I got a huge number of compliments at Husband's work party. I think it's the pink and purple hair, but there were also people in love with the clunky dragon necklace and the boots. (I don't shave as often as I probably should so my ankle was bleeding profusely half an hour before the party. Boots were a practical decision.) Same thing when we went to Orlando on Sunday, where some drunk guy tried to hug me because I looked so lovable.

But, even like this, even knowing most people don't have pink hair and at least once there was a stigma with those who have altered nature, I still feel average. (Even being overweight is average in the states :)

I don't have problems with normal.

I expect that everyone feels average because we each become our own baseline, due to pure availability and practicality. I once had an argument with a lit teacher (a black lady who was very concerned with both racism and sexism) who said that we (her mostly white class) were all at least a little racist because we started our descriptions of black strangers with the word black, but did use the word white to describe white strangers. My argument was that to be tall, the stranger only had to be taller than my completely average 5 foot 5 and being only 5 foot 2 was enough for them to be short. (I give a few inches either direction where I'd probably say they are my height.) --Though I do have a friend who is 5 feet even. I thought she was my height for years, until one day she didn't wear platform shoes. I also know someone I thought was much taller than me until we stood next to each other one day and I realized it was just that she is so outgoing and just exudes happiness so fully that her personality makes her seem bigger than life.

I have smallish eyes, an upturned nose, and full lips (my best feature -- unless you count large boobs that came years after all the other girl's). I hated my freckles and dreamed of them fading until I was in my twenties and people stopped asking me if I swallowed a dollar (that came out in pennies) or said they were angel kisses (is that creepy or what?). Or asking if I'm Irish. (I love the Irish legends, but we haven't found an Irish ancestor yet. Still hoping.)

Husband still calls me beautiful, but other than the nit-picky little things I believe everyone has, I've always been happy being normal. (Less happy being overweight but that's an issue of not being as flexible as I'd like because there is too much flesh in the way, not because I want to achieve an unrealistic standard of so-called beauty.)

On the other hand, I've always been one to smile -- you know how you catch eyes with someone you're walking by and smile a greeting? Well, I do that a lot. People smile back a lot. Almost always. So I was surprised when an older man glared at me instead of returning the smile. Really glared, like I'd kicked his dog or something. When it happened again later, with another elderly stranger, I realized I'd just changed my hair to a color nature doesn't choose for hair.

Feathers, maybe, but not hair.

On the other hand, pink hair has gotten me more compliments than I've gotten since I was single, in college, and underweight (that's a word, right?). I haven't changed a bit inside, (well, not in the last few months, at least) but to strangers....

I've become different.

Most people love it and see me as daring (I'm not), but to some, I think, I've become scary. One of those people; whatever those people are.

It's an interesting thing to watch.


  1. Hair always grabs people. I've had more strangers ask me about the white streak in my hair than I can count. I always think it's funny that they start with, "Is your hair real?" I like to laugh about that one because it's like they're asking me if I wear a wig. I used to say something like, "Are you asking if it exists in space/time? Yes. If you're asking if the streak is naturally occurring, also yes." Now I just say yes.

    When they compliment your hair, they're not just admiring beauty, they're admiring courage as well. ^_^

  2. Hi Marilou and Happy New Year! I'm playing catch up again. I've always thought it's good to be 'different' once in a while. I just love your hair cut AND color! It looks great on you! I wish I looked that good in a dress! Speaking of hair color, I've got to do something with this gray hair of mine; which by the way used to cause me aggravation in middle school and high school because people were always asking, "Did you know you have gray hair?" My reply would always be some smart remark like, "No, really? You don't say! I never noticed it before!" ;)

  3. I've done box colors forever, just for variety - because I love all colors of red, so if you just want that, it's not as hard as you might think. The bleaching is new for me (and was worrisome, hearing of people burning their hair with the bleach), but even that's not that bad. (Jane and Mel said I'd have to bleach to get the bright colors to stick.) I don't think I left it on quite as long as I should have, but it's enough to see the colors.

    You just have to decide what color you'd like better. (Though I've heard it's harder to cover gray. Mel would almost certainly help if you have trouble.)