Monday, November 26, 2007

Writing prompt

Today A. used this as a journal topic for her 7th graders. (It's getting late in November, isn't it?)

What's the most dramatic way you've altered your appearance?

Me, I'm tempted to answer it three different ways.

The single thing I did that people noticed most was to cut my hair off, from the middle of my back to above my ears. Close friends didn't recognize me, from even a foot or two away. But hair grows, and in time mine grew back, so that as dramatic as that change was, it's gone now. As far as my hair goes, I look about the same way I did in high school and college.

The thing I did that felt the most dramatic at the time was getting my first tattoo. It's pretty discreet, a vine around my ankle, hidden easily under a sock, but it took hours and it hurt with a welcome kind of pain, and it is never going to not be there. Doing it felt like it radically changed my body, from pristine to deliberately marked. My second tattoo, a snake, is almost hidden under my hairline (catch the Helene Cixous reference, anyone? Yes, I am a theoryhead, thankyouverymuch) so it's even less dramatic. But both of those body alterations felt very intense in the way they insribed and acted out my own ownership of my body, at an age and a stage in my life when claiming my body as my own was central.

But, well. In the end I have to say that the most dramatic thing I've done to change my appearance--and it was both temporary and radical--was to go get pregnant.

And you, my commentariat? How about you?


kabbage said...

I went from medium brown hair to blonde. We were supposed to be doing highlights, but when she got through with those, my friend said, "Oh, there's only a little bit left" and dumped the rest of of the bleach on my head! I was so nervous when I started rinsing the stuff out and saw only blonde stuff.

Very interesting because people did treat me differently. Even people who knew me well gradually treated me as more and more of a stereotypical blonde. I admit I used it. I was an exempt employee in a union place and I used the blondeness to do stuff (like measure parts with a ruler longer than 6 inches -- illegal under union rules) that would have been challenged if I were male or brunette.

kathy a. said...

i once got a perm and then they cut my hair too short -- looked like a poodle. mostly i look the same as i have for 30 years, except grayer and fatter.

pregnancy was definitely a change! the biggest one of all was the one i didn't plan, puberty -- alien body parts sprouting all over.

Julia said...

Pregnancy definitely changed my appearance. And some of it seems to be somewhat permanent. Oh, well.

S. said...

Kabbage, so interesting, the way you were treated by people who *knew* you. I wonder how many of them realized it?

kathy a., next time around, I'm definitely planning puberty.

Julia, yeah. What you said.

Magpie said...

Yeah, pregnancy would be it. And the permanent little addition to the belly that followed.

Though I once cut 12-15" off my hair in college, from butt length to armpit length, and got stopped by people I didn't even know - "you cut your hair".

Holly said...

Cutting my hair from long to very, very short and at the same time going from blonde to brunette. It was weird. I felt like I was a different person. Even the wife looked at my kinda funny for a few days.

S. said...

Magpie, maybe almost no one noticed when I cut half my hair off this summer because there's a certain level you need to cut your hair off *to* in order to get people to notice. Like, above your elbows.

Holly, welcome! Yeah, length and color at the same time, I bet that would do it.

Furrow said...

hmm, yeah, pregnancy was pretty dramatic.

But I'm a daily chameleon. People who meet me first with my hair down don't often recognize me when I wear it up in a french twist (which I do nearly every damn day) and vice versa. I never assume that anyone remembers me from a first meeting unless I can recall that I was wearing my hair the same way.