My best title ever, right?
I don’t think I can naturally “pull it off.”
I almost never have the things that magazines say you’re supposed to have when you do anything I want to do with my appearance. When you wear a short dress or cut off your hair or do bright lipstick or long dresses or whatever.
Honestly, I have no idea what my “look” is. You know, like preppy chic or flowy hippie or electric hipster or fairy grunge or urban hillbilly runway. I don’t even know what I look like. (And also, I don’t know anything about style. But I want to see what urban hillbilly runway would look like.)
Who the hell knows what they really look like?
Isn’t it always different? Isn’t it different in different lights, in the mirror in the bathroom as opposed to the snide mirror in the hall as opposed to the generous mirror against the back wall? Isn’t it different in every photo? Some of them are downright cruel—that doesn’t count as a smile! Am I being possessed by some sort of really petty demon?—some of them are almost decent.
I have a general impression of myself. Bold nosed. Somewhat round of cheek. Owlish eyes. What does that mean? I don’t know, but it works. Square shoulders, chubby arms, subtle breasts, legs with a shape that I usually like.
I don’t know what works with these things. Sackcloth? Pucci? I just had to look Pucci up to see if that meant clothes or sunglasses. So probably sackcloth.
And then the other day, this girl wrote to me and she said something about how she had wanted to cut her hair for a long time, and she found me on the internet and liked my hair and felt inspired by something I’d written about it, but wasn’t sure she could pull it off, because she didn’t have a face like mine. My face was interesting, she said. And you have to have an interesting face to pull off short hair.
I was floored.
The way I have been floored in the past, when this has happened.
Because I do not have a face for short hair. I don’t have a body for the clothes I often like to wear. I don’t have a look for anything. I just have my look, whatever that is, and then I make some decisions, based on what I like and what makes me feel good. And then sometimes people like those decisions, and that’s even better.
But me doing it, in my opinion, means anyone can do it. Means anyone should do it.
When I read about short hair, before I had it, and saw pictures of women with short hair, they always had adorable pixie faces with delicate, neat features. In comparison my face is a Picasso. It is all over the place. It is out of control. And it’s not worth millions of dollars. So it’s not really even like a Picasso.
And this girl said it was interesting, which is what made it right. Made it “work.”
But everyone’s face is interesting.
And at the end of the day, and also the beginning and the middle, I am all for pulling it off whether or not you can pull it off. I am all for jumping in and doing it, whether or not the millions of tiny rules about beauty agree.
Sometimes I try really hard to figure out what the right look for me is. And I briefly use a special shampoo that smells like a private island or a very specific touch of eyeliner every day for almost a week. I feel masterful and secure momentarily, as though I’ve finally solved a particularly complicated puzzle. And then it all falls apart and I realize that the eyeliner or the shampoo or the heels that are a half inch taller or the shirt with a scoop neck haven’t fixed the way I look. They haven’t made me polished and put- together and cohesive. They haven’t made me consistent. And I realize that discovering the perfect look for myself is an exhausting and pointless goal. Figuring out what I like is better.
(every mirror is different! but i wish they were all as pretty as these)
So to the girl who is too afraid to cut her hair because she thinks her face isn’t as interesting as mine–
I’ll tell you the truth: I probably look better with long hair. Sometimes I am positive I do. I can spit the reasons why like I’m Busta Rhymes. (Hint: my neck is too short, my chin isn’t well-defined enough, I am not skinny enough, my eyes are not big enough.) But I don’t care. I cut my hair off anyway. Because it feels good. Because it is simple. Because I am always comfortable and it never snarls against the pillow or gets caught in my coat or frizzes or takes ages to dry.
I cut my hair just because. Because I wanted to. I’ll wear bright red lipstick some days for the same reason, and no make up most of the other days, also for the same reason. Ditto, the parachute pants.
And you’re right, I’m pulling it off. But I think it’s sheer force of will. I think it’s because I refuse to put it back on.
So go for it! It’s amazing what you can pull off when you don’t try to figure out what you should be pulling off instead.
* * *
What have you done to your appearance that wasn’t supposed to “work” with the way you look?
Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a pink leather jacket.
Other stuff I’m up to: Peter Gray interviewed me on Psychology Today about my childhood. For a while it was the 2nd most popular post on the site, and I realized that I am totally OK with silver medals.
I wrote about how I married a man with the same exact chronic illness as my dad for XoJane. What was I thinking? LOVE. It’s a crazy thing.
I wrote about how Peter Dinklage is hot, for the Frisky.