January 18, 2005

the mystery of the hat

There's this awful woman who's been staying with my grandmother. She's gone now, but she used to say things like, "you're very perceptive for one so young" when I said anything even marginally intelligent (I'm 22, not 8), and constantly talk about all the important people she knew and important things she had done. Totally unreliable. But the other day she said something interesting: "With your cap on, you could easily be mistaken for a boy."

There's no way for her to know this, but my little brother and I have pretty much exactly the same haircut. We got our hair cut at the same time by the same person, my all-time favorite stylist, who lives in my hometown and makes me ignore all the fancy places in Philadelphia and San Francisco and New York because she's better. When she finished cutting my hair, after her usual comment about not making me look too butch, she said, "Well, they're pretty similar." We both have short brown hair, layered and slightly spiky in the front, trimmed and shaped in the back.

I've also never been mistaken for a boy, or almost never: a friend thinks someone called me sir one day when we were walking down the street, and it may have happened once in an airport, but people basically get my gender right. I have a really feminine figure, I'm short, I have no real facial hair (aside from the nearly transparent peach fuzz that actually makes me look more feminine than shaving would), and even wearing work pants and big sweaters with my boyish haircut or shaved head doesn't override the other gender cues (and anyway, I usually wear girl clothes: butch girl clothes, but girl clothes nevertheless). I'm really obviously a girl. In fact, my hair is often one of the least feminine things about my appearance.

I think she might be right, though. I can't figure out why: maybe the hat gives people less information in general?

No comments: