The Unbearable Softness of Being

I went to see my psychiatrist when he returned from his three week vacation. Before I could make a peremptory statement about my hair, he said brightly: “New Hair!”

He had no idea what I’ve been through, hair-wise. This is the new corrected hair, a desperate follow-up to the horror of the Real Housewives hair. It is so much better, right? But still a shock to my system and a challenge to my identity.

I started to say something about the hair and he continued happily, “It’s a softer look.”

Naturally, I took umbrage and we talked about hair and self-image for the rest of the psychiatric hour.

I don’t want a softer look, first of all, because that implies that my former look was hard, or harsh. I don’t want a softer look because I don’t want to project “softness.” If I have to project anything, I would choose tough. Then he confused me further by calling my former look “forbidding.” I argued that I wasn’t trying to look forbidding but merely “attractive.”

Then we had to define the audience I wanted to appear attractive to. I explained that I wanted to be attractive to the guy in the next lane if I wanted to cut in front of him. If I’m attractive, he will smile and gesture me into his lane. Being attractive is a tool in one’s social arsenal.

We talked about black hair and red lipstick, which I defended as a classic look, citing Snow White, Betty Page, and Veronica in “Archie” comics.  If you have black hair and pale skin, you need to work with what you have. You’re not going to be a California blond, after all. The way I look is pretty consistent with how I looked at eighteen. Clearly, in the eyes of my shrink, I looked like a kooky Goth or maybe a biker/dominatrix.

I had to deconstruct my appearance and think about the message it sends to the world. We are all attempting to project something with our hairstyles and fashion choices. I’d rather not think about it but I discovered that above all I want to look attractive, while still being true to who I think I am. I want to look fuckable and intriguing but I don’t want to look fashionable and I don’t feel comfortable in prints or high heels. I don’t want a Softer Look. I hate change. If I’m not projecting the right Me, I will have to dye my hair black and find a new way to distract myself from the bludgeoning pain of existence. I will also have wasted a fucking ton of money.

Thoughts, confessions, insults?

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24 Responses to The Unbearable Softness of Being

  1. Sam says:

    I’ll drink to that.

  2. Ruth says:

    For what it’s worth I do like this hair but of course, you must do what feels right for you.

  3. Deni says:

    Through my rose colored glasses, you are attractive regardless of hair tint and texture; you are smart, compassionate, fuckable, “more” unique, kind to small animals and children, and generous. Your shrink is a kook for calling your look forbidding??? What the fuck does that mean? (I think he needs my glasses.) You’ve always projected a look of non-conformity and independence. Believe in yourself. I believe in you.

  4. David Duff says:

    Dear Sis, it is almost impossible for me to desire you any more fiercely than I do already but … but … for God’s sake ditch the iron-wear stuck in you face!

    And leave your hair alone, it’s perfect.

    And ditch the psychobabbler, too, the man’s obviously a turnip!

  5. hammie says:

    I think Fuckable should have been enough. Obviously not a Freudian.


  6. Kristin says:

    I once made the mistake of telling my psychoanalyst that I ate an egg every morning and she told me I was getting too much cholesterol! Her opinion of my diet was as out of line as your therapist’s opinion of your hair. Face it: HE KNOWS NOTHING! Stop over analyzing yourself. Look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? I do. You look great.

  7. Bevitron says:

    Don’t pay any attention to that “softer look” bullshit – some men just resent having to do much work when it comes to approaching women. It’s a good sign, anyway – when someone’s simultaneously profoundly unattracted and desperate not to hurt feelings, they say something like, well, it looks very nice. Your hair is terrific; I have envy. You just are attractive, you can’t not be attractive. Intriguing-looking, oh yes, before & after.

  8. Debbie says:

    I LOVE the way you look, with darker hair, or softer hair, it doesn’t matter. You’re edgy and cool and I’d fuck you. How you look says to me – super intelligent, quick, acerbic, uncompromising, funny, deep, thoughtful. And men are idiots.


  9. David Duff says:

    Debbie, I was so entranced and excited by your comment, er, right up to the last sentence – and then you ruined it!

    I mean, what I’m trying to say is that *I* am ‘super intelligent, quick, acerbic, uncompromising, funny, deep, thoughtful’ – as well as being idiotic!

  10. Andra says:

    Ah Duff, all things to all women.
    And good luck to you….. we love you just as you are.
    Don’t change a hair for us ….. ah, you do have hair, don’t you?

  11. Sister Wolf says:

    Wow, THANKS, I’d like to fuck every one of you!

  12. Suspended says:

    Oh no, have I arrived too late for a fuck?

  13. Sister Wolf says:

    Suspended – Hahahahahahahahhaha! As if. We’re going to Lourdes together, aren’t we?

  14. Suebob says:

    Confession: I don’t really have an image of myself in my head. I’m practically invisible to myself, not in a bad way, just in that I’m not very visual. I have no real idea what most of my friends look like, either. My longtime friend told me he was getting braces and I said “Why?” and he gave me this disgusted look. I peered at him like Mr Magoo, suddenly seeing for the first time that he had cartoonishly buck teeth.

    The result is that I often don’t recognize people, even if I know them well. Or if someone shares a slight resemblance to a friend, I will go and speak to them as if they are my friend.

    I don’t know if this is a blessing or a curse. I just know it allows me to buy clothing from Land’s End without feeling too bad about it.

  15. Suspended says:

    Haha. Sister, indeed we are, but I thought it was more of a spiritual recharge than a sex sabbatical.

    Maybe they’re the same thing…What do I know? I’m just happy I’m on the “to-do” fuck list…haha!

  16. kate says:

    Get a new shrink. I don’t like this guy. Your black hair was awesome.

  17. Candy says:

    You are attractive! That’s the thing. I am like you I don’t like change much, but with the years, I realized change is good. I had the same issues with my hair. Mom used to tell me not to cut my hair. You know what Sis? I promise you change is good, you know why? When I think about the past, I always had bad hair days, I had the same length as you do. Today, it is still long but the texture changed and I can manage it. You are attractive Sis, and even if you don’t want to look soft you are still strong. Go woman, we love you.

  18. kt says:

    Attractiveness is pretty subjective. I mean, we can all recognize what conventional beauty looks like, but when it comes down to being attracted to someone, there are so many different variables. I know I’m not going to attract a guy who is into blondes and double D’s. And I probably wouldn’t be very attracted to him either. I have discovered that for the most part, the guys I’ve dated have embodied similar styles and looks as myself. For your shrink to make that kind of commentary about your looks is rather unreasonable and inappropriate. Personally, I love your look, pre and post hair dye jobs. The consistency of your red lipstick will always denote your feistiness 🙂

  19. Jean Paul says:

    Let’s not all jump on the shrink! While he’s no arbiter of fashion, a outer change can certainly be a manifestation of an inner change. It’s a shrink’s job to inquire about it.
    There are things that when soft are very desirable – a pillow , a breast,
    The texture of hair, an expression.
    As long as you’re not a banana, over cooked pasta, or a penis in a bad situation, there is nothing wrong with soft. Hardness can always be achieved even with lighter hair. Just don’t buy lipstick with too much orange in it or start wearing pastels. You had courage to change the hair and that is totally hot, edgy and sexy and you are ridiculously beautiful.

  20. Iheartfashion says:

    Sister, you look beautiful and timeless and always fuckable.

  21. pam ela says:

    you’re right.

    after reading your shrink’s comments, i think that your shrink needs to get a life and stop thinking that his opinions about your hair color matter.

    i totally agree with hair trumping all over woes.

  22. tartandtreacly says:

    “As long as you’re not a banana, over cooked pasta, or a penis in a bad situation, there is nothing wrong with soft. ”

    There’s something about this poster’s turn of phrase that just sticks with you.

  23. drollgirl says:

    i have many thoughts, none of which would be much appreciated!

  24. M.R.B. says:

    Wow, I totally felt every word you wrote here. I find myself facing the same stupid issue, mostly just in social situations. I’ve always had horrible self-esteem and self-identity issues, and started dying my hair black in my early twenties. It’s something that I immediately felt ME in– black hair. No fashion statement intended… it just feels ME.
    People make dumb comments. “The goth girl”. “The morbid girl”. “Debbie Downer”. “The depressed, suicidal one.” Noooo. These are not me. I get so IRRITATED with these comments, but I tell myself that humans have limited perspectives and they just don’t “get” me and that’s fine… but then it bottles up and some poor asshole calls me a goth and I unleash the fury of hell on him. And embarrass myself, make a totally awkward scene, and retreat, having NOT made my point at all.
    Anyway, thanks for this post.

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