Archive for the 'hair' Category

losing my hair

My hair is falling out. A fine, sad network twines across the pillow in the morning. I am forever plucking strands from the corner of the baby’s mouth.

I pull at it, run my fingers through it, checking them compulsively afterward for the telltale evidence. It’s always there, sometimes eight strands at a time, weaving together, blowing away.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror in the evening, tugging my hair to this side and then the other side, exposing the horror of my widening part. My hair can part anywhere now, given even half a chance. It falls open obscenely.

Losing my hair feels like losing my confidence. I hide under a hat. I try to surreptitiously check my reflection in case it’s ended up even more embarrassing than when I left the house earlier. I am thinking about it while having coffee with a friend. Is she looking at my hair? Is she feeling a little sorry for me?

Bear says I’m being ridiculous, I look exactly the same. My hair is beautiful.


Beautiful is a gross exaggeration, I say. Gross is a better word.

He gets frustrated. Come on, stop it, you’re being vain. It doesn’t matter.

Wait, I say. This is not vanity. I swear.

Actually, I’ve been trending towards fine. I mean, I just wrote this piece, about feeling sexy. And before that I wrote this piece, about not caring about the way I look anymore. So yes, that just happened. I realize I’m sort of contradicting myself now. I tried not to write this piece for that reason, but I’m writing it anyway, because life is contradictory. Also, my hair wasn’t falling out then.

My thinning hair yanks me back into a tightening awareness of my reflection, and I resent it for that, too.

It reminds me of losing my hair other times. This isn’t the first time.

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Kate on December 18th 2013 in beauty, body, hair, motherhood

the epic tale of how I stopped using shampoo

OK, maybe not incredibly epic. But still. (This is adapted from my Mirror Mirror column, because I couldn’t just leave it to an unroast. I had to tell the whole damn story)

A little over a month ago, I stopped using shampoo. And, speaking as someone who has clearly never been in serious bodily danger, it felt like I was being very brave. Just a couple days, I told myself reassuringly. And then, when you look like a horrifying ball of dripping grease, you can do the rational thing and return to the sweet comfort of purifying chemicals and delectable fragrances. Because that is totally how I think of shampoo, when pondering its many virtues alone in the shower.

Honestly, I’m not sure what motivated me to attempt this reckless experiment. An article about the mountaineers who have scaled Everest’s ferocious flanks? That documentary on Netflix about the dude who illegally, triumphantly walked the high wire between the former World Trade Center buildings? Maybe just a quiet, deep-rooted sense of “now or never.”

A quick summary of my relationship with my hair (and please know that I am intensely aware of the fact that I recently wrote a piece critiquing the phrase “first world problems” and that this whole piece might fit into that phrase very neatly):

I did not ever want to be someone who cared about her hair. I picture myself as a kind of fiery, absentminded librarian-to-the-dragon-king type. You know, a Cimorene from Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Cimorene didn’t care about her hair, she was too busy running away from home to have awesome adventures, while her silly sisters fussed in front of the mirror, prettying themselves for visiting princes. The thing is, Cimorene had naturally fantastic hair. Those fantasy heroine’s, no matter how adorably tom-boyish, always do.

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Kate on May 6th 2013 in beauty, being different, hair

bald and exposed

A couple things.

I’m writing a column for The Frisky now. It launched yesterday. This is my first piece for it. It took me around four hours to write, because I was so nervous. I have never written a column before. I started to write a column for Home Education Magazine and then the whole magazine fell briefly apart. I think it’s starting up again soon. So really, this is my first time writing a column. I read some other columns, and they were really funny and clever and involved lists of things. Instead of being especially clever and writing lists, I decided to be myself and write some more about body image. I did that. I hope it’s OK.

Tomorrow I am leaving for the Virgin Islands with my family, because my parents won a week-long trip. I wrote a post about being scared to wear a bikini during this trip. Then I went to H&M and bought a gold one.  It doesn’t have a terrifying face on it, like the really cool one in my post. I didn’t have time to get that one. In preparation for the trip, I decided to get my hair buzzed again (it’s really obvious how fast it grows when it’s so short). Last time, I went with Bear to a fancy salon, where I paid somewhere around $60 (holy shit) for a stylist to unwillingly and disapprovingly buzz my hair. This time I went to a barber. A burly Russian guy was happy to cut my hair off for $15. He did it even shorter than before. I am almost bald. It is a little scary.

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Kate on June 8th 2012 in beauty, being different, body, family, hair

little victories: the kind of beauty that stands out in a crowd

I like to stand out. I like to be different.

Writing the buzz cut piece reminded me.

Well, getting the buzz cut reminded me. And then writing about it. For me, everything is two-pronged: the doing and the writing.

As a little kid, I was shy, but I liked to stand out. People don’t think those things go together. They think when you’re shy you want to disappear. But I was just particular about the ways that I wanted to stand out.

I hear that kids are supposed to be afraid of being different from other kids. And I’ve definitely had those moments, of course. But for some reason, there weren’t many of them. Instead, there was this fierce pride. Like a little unquenchable flame, just inside my belly, a tiny eternal light like the one that hung over the ark where the Torahs are kept on the bima. But mine didn’t have cobwebs like the one at temple.


“Why doesn’t the school bus pick you up in the morning?” my neighbor, Benny, asked me when I was ten. He sounded a little accusing.

“Because my mom doesn’t let it,” I said.

“My mom says you probably go to school at a special school. At your Jewish church.”

“No,” I said, “I don’t go to any school. And it’s not a church, it’s called Temple Har Zion.” I felt important.

Benny made a face at me that said, “you aren’t saying real words.” “That’s weird,” he said.

“Do you want to learn a prayer in Hebrew?” I said.

“Okay,” he said.

So I taught him the Sh’ma, the central prayer. Sh’ma yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad. I sang it. I convinced him to sing it, too.

I was the weirdest kid on our street, of course. Jewish AND homeschooled, in a town where no one was either. In a town where once the boys down the street cut a swastika in a nearby cornfield. So I don’t know why I liked to stand out. Maybe because I was always with my mom, and she was always comfortable standing out.

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i like the person i am without my hair

Bear and I decided to get our hair buzzed together. It was his idea. He went first, and came out looking like summer.

Then I sat down in the chair.

“Buzz it,” I told the elegant French stylist.

She had a good laugh. Then she looked at me hard. “You’re serious?”

“I’m serious.”

She needed some convincing. I promised I wouldn’t be mad at her. I swore.

She did it, a disapproving look on her face. I was encouraging the whole time. When she was done, I grinned at my reflection. “I love it!” I said.

(and then I did this, to be more convincing) 

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Kate on May 15th 2012 in beauty, being different, body, hair