HAIR: A ZINE ABOUT QUEERNESS AND HAIR VOLUME TWO SUBMISSIONS OPENED 11 DECEMBER 2018 AND CLOSED JANUARY-MARCH 2019 PUBLISHED 12 OCTOBER 2019
The queer art of failure turns on the impossible, the improbable, the unlikely, and the unremarkable. It quietly loses, and in losing it imagines other goals for life, for love, for art, and for being.â€? - Jack Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure NOTHING BUT ENDLESS
I am not a patient person. My impatience dresses itself up in all manner of guises: as feigned disinterest, as doing so many things at once, as reckless abandon, courageous, impulsive exhibitionism. I cannot wait to
let things happen. I must be the ringleader, even if that means driving the ship wildly off course and mixing metaphors as I go. I want to feel like I have the reigns even as I cast them away, feel the baton drop out of my hands (out of choice, of course), feel the wheel spin as the waves crash around me. It is therefore with great hypocrisy that I thank those who submitted and saw the calls for submissions to this zine in the last months of 2018, for their enduring patience as I procrastinated putting their work together. I began to write this editor’s letter on the final day of summer, with hair reaching to my shoulders. Shaving my head and waiting for it to grow out did not finally teach me that most elusive virtue of patience. In fact, it taught me hardly anything at all. It was a haircut I had two years ago and one that I no longer have today. The ways that I mythologised my shaved head struck me most when, in a pub garden in Newcastle, I decided that I could talk to someone with a shaved head by telling her that I had shaved my head, before asking why she’d shaved her head. She’d shaved her head because of the bald patches that had become so visible that she’d really had no other option. Losing her hair was stress related. When her friend asked me why I’d shaved my head, I really had no other answer but to shrug and say, “yeah I don’t know… I guess I’d just always liked the look.” I was trying to make conversation with people I didn’t know because the friend I was visiting was not doing great, and that was related to me being somewhat heavy-footed around their hometown and processes of grieving. This friend and I both had undercuts that we had shaved in on the same day in May whilst in different places. Now, we were both in Newcastle, although in different corners of town, in different emotional states. No shared hairstyle, past or present, could save me from the slower work of showing up for people in my life or acknowledging that people’s pain is complex. I cannot remove my careless words as easily as I can remove hair from parts of my body. I want to be the darling lovechild of Neo from the Matrix and Tank Girl from Tank Girl. I want to be post-apocalyptic, clad in leather, shaved head and emerging from tanks, both incubator and army-issue. I want to be a fictional character. I want to have a makeover scene at the close of every chapter. I have definitely watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind too many times, to the extent that I could write long devotionals to the character of Clementine before realising that this indulgence is how I have come to value fiction over fact every single time. I like films, books,
tv shows, well-directed music videos, zines, selfies, sonnets, low theory that screams and chews and spits in a voice illegible but somehow intelligible because I am human just like everybody else. I am hooked on the gratification of finding out what happens in the end. Endings aren’t so neat in the life you live beyond the screen. Feeling my hair growing out, and simply feeling emotions reminds me of that not everything feels good because I am not always good. But I believe I will catch up and in that belief there is a glimmer of how we survive. We’re all learning, growing and recovering. We’re all waiting and hungry for more. I would like to thank everyone who is a part of this zine project and a part of my life. Thank you for waiting. Big love, Claire
Woman is a sharp furred creature full of milk I keep my milk in my teeth cover my arms in summer When old enough for razors, I unpeel layers of me legs and fingers gilled I feminise, unpicking Lace that weaves back through in spines I bleached till the skin stung Unwomaning is whittling a doll I am soft, you say And when you close your eyes Iâ€™m like a child on top of you Animal in the nameless stage Between a thing that walks and one that carries Morning and a nest of it, pillow pulled I should have woven Picked it up like the body of a mouse and twisted The small bones cracking Glued it with my spit into a pellet, pill for scratching I catch the razor bladewise Let bleach sour When I am loved I tilt my head back Handed, crowned A shell half full I let the hair hang feral like a gift To pass between fingers, Tangling And scissors, taking it off CAITLIN
LOCKS Yes, hello, how can I help you madam? Oh… sorry, sir. I didn’t… It’s okay, I really don’t mind, I say. Yeah it’s just from behind I thought… with the coat… and the hair… I order my coffee and sit down. Why is it that people always apologise? Maybe they think they’re emasculating me – stripping away the social and material power that is my masculine birthright by misidentifying me as a woman. Maybe it’s an instance of the British tic (one of the few that I like, because I find it funny) of apologising for things that aren’t your fault. But the comedian Hannah Gadsby says she experiences the same thing, where people say sorry for misgendering her, and she’s a Tasmanian woman. (She also finds it funny, or at least pretends to). I would like to think it happens to us because we both make people uncomfortable or confused. Part of the reason I wear feminine clothing, pierced ears, and my hair in a bob is to parody the performative constitution of gender, and thus, quietly and anonymously, do my bit at pluralising and undermining gendered structures of oppression. Causing discomfort must mean I’m succeeding, surely? Or not. The young woman working in this café is hardly the bastion of the patriarchy. I think about difficult or confusing interactions I’ve had with members of the public in my own customer service job, and reflect on the idea that my everyday activism might in fact make me a bit of a dick. It seems to come down to a difficulty of attributing ethical (as opposed to judicial) responsibility given an understanding of subjectivity as arising through and in relation to systems of power... I probably didn’t need that second coffee. I sigh and get out a pencil and a pad of paper. I’m working on something for a zine on hair and queerness, produced by someone I went to uni with. I write some thoughts.
Goya’s La maja desnuda (1795-1800) is one of the earliest paintings in Western Europe to depict a woman with pubic hair. It was also the first Spanish nude whose subject was not taken from mythology, and so did a good job at pissing off the Catholics. The painting was created through and for a heterosexual male gaze. Lying face up on soft cushions, the subject’s body is angled front on to the viewer, and she has her hands over her head to leave her breasts visible and vulnerable. She’s primed for easy consumption. However her own gaze works oppositionally, directed right back at the viewer. It has struck many commentators as self-assured and confrontational, more of a ‘can’t touch this’ than a ‘come get me.’ Another level of male fantasy perhaps, but it also reflects the growing material strength and independence of Spanish women at the time, a phenomenon dubbed marcialidad or warlikeness. In this way the painting seems to represent an example of good porn, in a profound sense of the phrase. Perhaps good porn is only possible under certain historical contingencies. I cross it all out, and wonder which is sadder: loneliness when you’re surrounded by others, or loneliness as a solo pursuit. What aspects of my life might qualify me to contribute to this zine? I have hair, yes, but does my year of lying with another man really qualify me as queer? Especially since I now pass as straight. Maybe I queer as a verb by cultivating a pretentious writing style. Also, I have an English degree, and wear funky clothes. These are my qualifications. I once found in a Youtube comment a nutter quoting 1 Corinthians. Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? I looked it up and it’s from a particularly nasty section about women’s inferiority to men. Sons and daughters of queerness, verily I say unto you: Every time you go against the teaching of St Paul, someone in gay heaven climaxes.
Do I even subscribe to ‘queerness’, whatever that might mean? I revere Judith Butler and Eve Sedgwick, high priests of queer, but surely their work – hermetic and sorely academic as it is – has left the word so veiled that it would be impossible to form an effective, let alone an inclusive politics around it. Meanwhile to adopt it as an ‘identity’ would be a rejection of what’s so important – what I find so important – in the epistemological (Sedgwick) and ontological (Butler) critiques of those two scholars. But what words remain to describe how I present myself to the world? With my beautiful long hair and omnivorous erotic history, I’m not masc enough to be a man, not boychild enough for a twink. The career of poet Paul Celan represents a continual paring down of the German language in response to the Nazi extermination of Jewish people. I like to think of it as a years-long teari ng out of hair, the painstaking and only available expression of a grief felt to be all but unutterable.
There’s a woman sitting next to me at the counter, alone, reading a book. I ask her to watch my stuff while I go to the toilet. She smiles warmly and says, sure. I hope she doesn’t think I’m hitting on her. To make sure, I resolve to be especially cold when I return. It’s not clear who this punishes. TOM
WORK IN PROGRESS
Itâ€™s like when I plait my hair. Coarse, thick and curly, it holds together with no need for a hair band. This is one of the times when I feel distinctly mixed race. When my heritage binds, interlinks and ties me up. When my ambiguity feels closer, my curls tighter, darker, coarser. Held together. Slick with Coconut oil and teased out with an Afro comb. Baby hairs fringing my not quite white face, a halo of unkempt frizz, untamed and tangled. When braided my hair feels like rope. Textured and strong. When braided my hair feels legitimately other. Other than the coiled strands that cling to clothes and carpet it is an identity on my head, connected to my scalp, and worn into my fibre.
My hair exerts a two-sided influence on me, and has been through a fair few tortures: poor quality box dyes, one botched home bleach and one successful one, and a number of interesting shapes, like a bowl cut. Often, it's a source of confidence and experimentation, a decisively positive asset to my perception of myself. I find that few feelings compare - when it comes to playing around with one's style - to the rush of a dramatic new haircut or hair colour that fits you just right. It's a physical change that can improve your well-being in an instant. But it can have the opposite effect, too. For some reason, these spindly bundles of protein can really weigh you down - if my hairstyle doesn't match the rest of my vibe, I feel out of sync. For example, right now, I'm itching to chop off a good 20cm at least...
MY HAIR WAS A PANSEXUAL FLAG I should stop going to the barber: “it is for men only” I am told every time. Last time I checked hair had no gender. Sometimes I stay, sometimes I run away, last time dysphoria was too much to stay. I was always cutting my hair by myself, what a relief! what a change! I was not even that bad at it. But now I am shaving. I should learn how to do it myself. “you changed your hair again, that’s how I know this week has been tough for you”, said my therapist years ago. The best barber ever is in San Francisco, it is called Fellow Barber. It is in the Mission, in front of Dolores Park. I went there in January 2014. So hipster. So dandy. I was packing for the first time. Can someone take me back there? Back to Fellow Barber, I mean. Back to California. Santa Cruz, the Bay Area, or Long Beach. Anyway. Soon, hopefully. Soon. I wonder how soon it will be this soon. In California no barber was gender-policing me. What’s wrong with barbers in Cambridge? I should learn how to do it myself. When I was in high school, I wanted to have white hair. I still have the same desire. I can’t wait to grow older. But I have also always wanted to be blond. Blond at birth. I tried to bleach. That was not it. Maybe that’s why I really like her, because she is blond. So beautifully blond. Long blond hair, like a princess. If I were a woman, I would really want to be her, with long blond hair, like a princess. I don’t think she likes to be called a princess, that’s why I stopped using it with her. But here I can use it. This summer I was pink and blond and blue. My hair was a pansexual flag. I was very proud of it. Now I am back to baseline: back to red. “Geryon was a monster and everything about him was red”. Indeed.
WORK IN PROGRESS
EVER WANTED TO ROCK OUT TO AMAZING BI+ MUSICIANS? Bestie - Sizzy Rocket This Charming Man - The Smiths She Rules - Kate Nash We Will Rock You (Live at Wembley 1986) - Queen Tarot Cards - Bitesize Little Secrets - Passion Pit Changes - David Bowie Boats & Birds - Gregory And The Hawk Thinkin Bout You - Frank Ocean Born This Way - Lady GaGa (Note: Could replace with Hair - Lady GaGa for this zine!) Fagette - Athens Boys Choir Euphoria - Loreen I Will Always Love You (Live at the WMAs) - Whitney Houston
Bonus track: 2013 music video for What's It Gonna Be? - Shura Sizzy Rocket - Las Vegas badarse songwriter who did America's Got Talent for the fame before using the internet to spread out her take on love, sex and drugs. She doesn't use labels to identify but has started a record label, Diet Punk Records, which currently releases crackers by her D.I.Y. punk band, Shiny Wet Machine.
The Smiths - Lead singer Morrissey took over the 80s and is cited as one of the biggest influences on modern music, writing and art in the West. Morrissey avoids labels and has only ever declared himself under duress as humansexual but pretty lucidly describes the bisexual asexual experience in many of his interviews, as well as casually describing how he is genderless all the time, all things the media + public are fascinated with, tending to not take Morrissey seriously and instead equating him with closeted homosexuality despite his partners of multiple genders and asexual relationships.
Kate Nash - UK songwriter who made music after a leg injury left her homebound and bored, often described as 'reverse selling out' since she began on MySpace, scored platinum radio pop albums, then left the industry to surround herself with women, start online young women's communities and record/tour independently, returning to her roots. She doesn't use labels. Queen - Lead singer and contender for greatest performer ever Freddie Mercury is often wrongly remembered as gay. He refused to ever identify publicly, generally evading questions about his significant lovers regardless of their current gender before he tragically died from HIV/AIDS, although he allegedly told/discussed with friends and family how he was bisexual. Bitesize - The lyrical wit of campus favourites Bitesize is just another part of transfeminist author and molecular biology researcher Julia Serano's genius. It is funny to remember as she is singing that she coined the term "cissexual assumption" as well as discovering the K10 transport/ localisation element in developmental biology, both things taught in very non-interacting undergraduate courses. She identifies as bisexual and rocks! Passion Pit - Michael Angelakos, lead singer of 'modern indie-pop inventors' Passion Pit has amassed a following owing to his unique singing style as well as candid discussion of living with bipolar disorder. Despite millions of news articles + Wikipedia describing him as gay (often taking snippit quotes of his from the hour long interview containing the word gay or word homosexuality and placing them out of context), he publicly came out as bisexual in an interview in 2015, after privately identifying as such since almost time eternal, and since talked about bisexuality with fans on reddit and other places. David Bowie - Iconoclastic anti-conformity and endlessly expressive rock legend who is almost an emblem of bisexuality to me since his stamp on art was to demonstrate the fun, power and creativity that goes into setting up an image and then destroying it, something that I personally be-
lieve is deeply connected to the concept of bisexuality. He came out as gay, then bisexual, then heterosexual, then bisexual several times more into the rest of his life (often transforming questions into epistemological humour or performances) whilst cultivating a deeply gender nonconforming and androgynous ever-shifting visual aesthetic for his shows and media. Gregory And The Hawk - Hypnotising singer/songwriter Meredith has never identified publicly, but seems to have no problem keeping pronouns in her covers, nor writing beautifully crafted songs about multiple genders and sending them off to be featured in queer compilations and media. Frank Ocean - Frank's has an amazing voice and through his meticulous music provided part of the soundtrack to my teenage years. Despite being associated with phobic language users, after publishing an open tumblr letter about his unrequited love for another man aged 19, Frank Ocean received praise from the hip hop community and fan base with tracks like 'Forest Gump', 'Taxi Driver' and 'Thinkin Bout You' going mainstream as if prejudice was a thing of the past. There have been numerous queer readings of his latest album, Blonde, which is infused with the theme of dualities right down to technical aspects like the name being 'blonde' yet the physical album art using the word 'blond' and a significant beat change at exactly 30 minutes of the 60 minute album, aspects thought to artistically represent masculinity/femininity, bifurication and bisexuality. He does not use labels. Lady GaGa - Responsible for a ten week US number one single containing the word 'transgender' performed to 150+ million people at the Superbowl (feats probably not to happen again in my life) as well as 'Poker Face', a song about bisexuality that became the 11th best-selling digital single of all time, topping charts in 10+ countries. Lady Gaga is seen as one of the most powerful icons in the last 10 years due to her meteoric rise to fame, fashion, film, performance art and music all of which deals with a range of contemporary themes, most notably an iconoclastic selfdeconstruction exploring fame itself, something again I intimately relate to bisexuality. Gaga has frequently stated she is bisexual as well as re-
ferring to herself as gay, not-straight and not-gay, queer, label-less, a child of diversity, a child of the universe and 'on a gay scale of one to ten, I am a Judy Garland fucking forty-two'. Athens Boys Choir - Harvey Katz tours around rapping humorously about socially responsible themes. He also makes brilliant low-fi music videos with stylish visuals. He is a pansexual transman. Loreen - Swedish sensation Loreen won Eurovision in 2012 with a dramatic minimalist performance, showcasing her incredible vocal range. She's talked about how her performance was influenced by a love for the world and that she was thinking about the songs message, not the competition. Loreen first defined as non-heterosexual in 2011, and in 2017 stated she is "quite simply" bisexual. Outside of music, Loreen has been involved in numerous International Human Rights efforts. Whitney Houston - Known for her incredible talent, "I Will Always Love You" is the 7th best selling physical single of all time, and her performance is thought by many to be an inspired release of her supressed and oppressed love for her lesbian former assistant Robyn Crawford. Piecing together what happened between the two relies on multiple accounts. Whitney's former stylists and entourage think she was gay/ bisexual, and detail her bond with Robyn from an early age, and how it was the only grounding presence in Whitney's fame. Reports from her former bodyguards say Whitney's husband Bobby Brown and Robyn competed for her attention, even arguing and coming to blows and that there were numerous nights of secretive hotel room visits. On her wedding day, Whitney bought an angry Robyn a porshe so she would 'behave'. Bobby states in his biography that Whitney was bisexual, and he and everyone knew, but she had to keep schtum about Robyn due to interventions from Whitney's homophobic mother and family, career pressures with her manipulative label and eventual marriage to Bobby; he knew Whitney was having a sexual relationship with Robyn and thinks if her family had allowed them to be together, Whitney would still be alive, as her drug abuse spiralled out of control when Robyn decided to cut ties and leave her life. WORK IN PROGRESS
Writing this list when I was sixteen with people I had just met but thought were cool is how I broke the ice & became their friend. Really. Sixteen year old me was the best (and sometimes the worst).
all I ever wanted was everything and your attention
I only ever wanted to watch my arms frame the ceiling Blood rushing out of my palms My decision and my decision alone
Which way I turn my beautiful wrists So the light hits the soft fine bits of hair Standing up along my arm, brushing and brushing Wild manes to a halo-like glow
MYTHAIR Prosymnus is treading fingers through bottomlessness. Bottomlessness had a colour, lost in Argolid, frosting. I could not save you, but Dionysius could dive, his feet gracing fir
and laughter like reedwire, copper hair rosespun by stone. The road is leaking through to Hades. As a faun, Dionysius adored Physus, looking up from marble to lavender. I once dreamt of using them to make paper, roses, to thread in your hair. I recall you had it cut that day and I had torn apart the poem. You could pour the little brittle leaves between our hands as water. Lapux looks down at his feet, his father is shredding the lyre.
The sky is wrist red. No dad, I will not help cut the trees at the back of the garden. It angered him as him.
Why has my son took on the tokens of the visionary? Blessed furies, he called upon. Can he not see how soft the skyline will be once Iâ€™ve flayed the conifer? The bird wanted my throat and his eyes darted to the gate.
To the park to the soft wolfish gesture. Tongue ran up nose to lick pollen from eyes and chew hair. He opens me as lavender loosens a nose. We sat, two lacks in a canal network, spelling her name as obvious as swans. Your hair took care to curl to light. I desired the word baroque after that hair. Learning German to feel its curl to harden, some Greek to inscribe on neck. That neck hot and oaky as school desks.
As a waterfall he had no bellows, never bellowed. And he wanted me, Iâ€™m sure, in Gaelic.
His clan inscribed over his chest and ducking to rib. Could turn the pater noster on me in Aqua, waterful. But in English he could only turn and walk from the room. So, slav shaved and tufted, my hair speaks of that riptide, that you left.
PHOTOS TAKEN BY MARINA
WORK IN PROGRESS
EXPECTED FUTURE We have literally never won a single war Ever. We've snatched a few rights here A few changes in attitudes A handful of lifestyle tweaks But now we need to let go of those rights Turn them into "want to"s Now we need to push on, and push ourselves against Stagnation, apathy and being told we are so successful.
Technology sweeps through us and we ogle in reverie of potential. We re-emerge timelessly For as long as they try and control We will be as relevant as always In all our ways Pluralities and multiplicities
despite powerlessness. Divides run deep and the old battles were between simpler tribes One clan wanted its rights, the other faction lobbied against it Bitterly they fought, a vocal majority emerging, a law passing, and both sides plotting,
mapping scheming until they got old and died. We examine their blueprints and notice that they thought we would sit where they sat and discuss in the same building We are a proxy for them in their plans for us. I am hungry decentralized It is unjust globally I will not be pitted against or fast-tracked with.
Ideas are not capital. Share them, across all borders.
WORK IN PROGRESS
My hair has always been an inconveniently big part of my life. I regret to tell you that my end of school year book quote was 'that's why her hair's so big, it's so full of secrets', I wish I'd gone for something more personable than Mean Girls, now... I think hair is central to everyone's understanding of identity. It is perhaps the most easily and temporarily mutable part of the exterior, which reflects both the environment and expectations it grows in, the gene-pool it stems from, and the internal monologue which it shrouds. My auntie says with caution that I have 'the Bliss curse', a term conceived on my father's side to describe our thick, difficult hair, and, unspokenly, a number of other difficult qualities. Evolving with me over the years, my hair has always left me at a loss. I have sworn off hairdressers. Why would I pay for someone to fingertip my tangles with downturned lips and say, 'it's very... thick...'? The last time I was happy leaving a hairdresser's I was nine years old and I wanted hair exactly like my Grandma's. My hair was cut by my Grandma's hairdresser, so I could be a miniature replica, and I left the shop beaming, with a bouncing 80s-style bob. Ironically, whilst my Grandma is a model of the feminine archetype, I think this haircut was the catalyst for my decision to become a boy. Now, when I say I decided to become a boy, I do not identify as trans, nor, anymore as a boy. However, I would definitely say I feel uncomfortable with identifying as a girl, or a woman, either. I don't think I ever really wanted to be a boy, so it's hard to say why I did this. Perhaps I fancied all the boys in my class and thought, what better way to make them like me than to become one of them? My mum often recounts the joke of her cross dressing kids, where I asked one day, 'Mum, why is it that I don't change in the boys changing room for swimming with the other boys?', and she said, 'Alice, do you see a problem with that?', and after a moment's thought I replied innocently, 'Oh, oh that, yes of course'. I think I knew. At this point my younger brother piped up, 'Yes, and when will I get the top half to my swimming costume?'. It was the summer of 2005, my family had just moved from Brixton to Brighton; the rise of 'emo' as a trend, my Asperger's diagnosis, and my
parents break-up glittered with dark promise on the horizon. A few years before, my elder family friend had told me whilst we were lying on the trampoline in her garden, that she was a 'tomboy'. From the air of superiority with which she said this I knew that this meant cool. I think in some ways I saw the move as a chance to reinvent myself. I cut off all my hair, I wore boys clothes, I hung out with all the boys, and I insisted people call me Alex. In my diary of 2014, I actually listed ideas for a series of short poems about hair and identity, under number two on the list is written: 'Girl cuts hair, wants to be a boy for Dad'. But then, my dad was one of the few people that I did not request call me by my boy's name. I don't think we ever broached the subject of, nor did I act as my male alter-ego with him. I remember walking down the road with my dad and brother, arguing light -heartedly about whether it's better to be a boy or a girl, and surprising myself by arguing that it's better to be a girl, 'but we have more options of what to wear!' I said. My parents had just broken up, and my dad moved out, and it's psychology 101 that a young child may view this as some kind of rejection, of not being good enough. I think perhaps my decision to cut my hair and become a boy was the product of feeling unloved, inadequate, and confused by any expectations of me. However, I don't think this is a story entirely apart from 'Queerness', as in not only 'weirdness', but also gender and sexual identity. I would not want to appropriate this terminology. However, I don't feel now, nor have I since I've been old enough to identify, felt comfortable within gender binary. I am tall, I am loud, I am crude, I do not only like men, I am messy and unhygienic, and to compensate I have for most of my pubescent and budding adult life attempted to force myself to fit within the stencil on my toilet door. Without divulging too much detail, partly because of the qualities I have that merited me my Asperger's diagnosis, I have for as long as I can remember felt a degree of separation from those around me. I support abolition of the stencil. The self is to some degree more mutable than hair. Whilst the more labels conceived, the more space for 'queer' and/or 'LGBTQ' to exist, labels mean expectations and culture and prejudices. It's a complicated issue, but at risk of sounding like a Liberal, I think perhaps an approach that reflects this fluidity without the label of fluidity itself may be a helpful one.
My grandma died on the 6th January 2019. We went to visit my Grandpa in their house after it happened. It was really really weird, and sad, and confusing. I borrowed her hairbrush to pull through my tangles, which has become quite a therapeutic exercise. I borrowed the tweezers to pluck my eyebrows in the bathroom mirror. One of my strongest memories of my Grandma is of sitting on the edge of my Grandparent's bed, my feet didn't touch the ground. The whole room is lilac coloured and smells of her perfume which is fresh and flowery. They had a stupid hollow house that looked out onto the edge of a big main road and through the billowing transparent curtains I could always hear the cars. She was sitting at her dressing table looking into the mirror and she crept over to me on the soft blueish carpet with her big blue eyes and said, 'Alice, don't ever pluck your eyebrows, they are perfect.' My eyebrows are very light, and patchy, and sometimes I think they have more stray hairs around the brow line than they do within it. Naturally, I have ignored her, and for years I always thought how false and what a silly thing to say. But somehow as a very traditional 50s woman, my Grandma never seemed to me to find a way to criticise, she understood without trying and without exception, and she loved timelessly. I can only hope to see that kind of love from others, and hope to grow into that part of what she was, even if I've grown out of her hair-style.
In Memory of Joan Mary Greenwood 21/08/1943 - 06/01/19.
AGEING (Part I – denial) “You look tired” she said she was just being honest and I was tired, I just thought it wasn’t showing. Maybe this is the age the time when things start to show in the lines on my face in the bags under my eyes in the ache of our feet
and our brittle hair and our drying skin and just being tired tired all the time.
(Part II – acceptance) My hands look older I was taking a picture on my phone of something I wrote on my arm with blue pen and I looked at the picture of my wrist on my phone which was wrinkled
I didn’t notice it change I can’t remember what it looked like before but it must have changed. I think it creeps up on you
and suddenly all the models on the cover of Vogue are four or five years younger than you (five, long, years) and they’re there and you’re here and for just a moment you think
“life has passed me by” but of course, it hasn’t, you’ve just Lived. And so you look upon them fondly But you do not wish to go back.
“my long hair has always been my comfort blanket so now I have to find other ways to be confident. I got a new job and a hair cut all in one day and I can’t think of a better way to kiss goodbye the catastrophic shit-storm 2018 was.“ GEORGIA
RAQUEL “BOY SHORT” I was told that girls use hair like a shield – to hide. Mine fell just past my shoulders, blonde and pulled straight down by gravity with a sweeping fringe that covered my entire forehead. The endless cycle of spots, which came first? The spot or the fringe? So when I was 14 and the hairdresser asked me what I wanted, I told them: “Cut it all off” “Boy short?” “Yes.” In the school playground, I felt visible for the first time. I had learnt that femininity was something to be ashamed of and that somehow my hair was a physical marker of this. I was happy to shed myself of it. It felt like rebellion, it felt like I had shaken something in the playground. People looked at me differently. People made assumptions about my sexuality. I asked myself, is this what it’s like to be seen? Two years later, my mum got sick and lost her hair. Suddenly, she was very visible and it wasn’t her choice. So when I was 16, and the hairdresser asked me what I wanted, I told them: “Cut it all off” “Boy short?” “No, like my mum.” Being bald taught me that winter is truly cold and I was inducted into the joys of sleeping in hats. This time, my hair was short because I chose it. Choice and the act of solidarity that unified my mother and I, felt like the most feminine thing I could ever do. It was at this time that I had allowed the wiry and wiggly hairs sprout and form little nests in my armpits. It felt powerful to simultaneously grow and to let go. I am 22 now and I wear my hair long and sometimes I cut it all down. I know now that my hair and my physical appearance has no bearing on my gender expression or my sexuality. I see my different haircuts as physical reminders of different phases in my life. The growth and shedding is visible, but only to me.
"The queer art of failure turns on the impossible, the improbable, the unlikely, and the unremarkable. It quietly loses, and in losing it im...
Published on Oct 12, 2019
"The queer art of failure turns on the impossible, the improbable, the unlikely, and the unremarkable. It quietly loses, and in losing it im...