Shorn

All of this kerfuffle over Britney Spears and her head-shaving episode leave me bemused and confounded. I always thought it was so cool to see a woman who shaved her head. Persis Khambatta made that cool for me when she shaved her hair for the Star Trek movie. The main reason I never shaved my hair as a teen was that I thought my head was shaped weirdly and I was afraid to shave it and look like a potato.

I shaved my hair a few years ago as a matter of necessity (for me). When I went from having long hair to having no hair overnight a lot of people were shocked. I was a little shell-shocked when I first did it as well, but it was the realization of a dream. I looked in the mirror and had no idea who was looking back at me. But she was so free! Whoever she was, I wanted to know her. I could really focus in on her eyes, I could really see her, free of all trappings and trimmings. And I liked her.

I found it incredibly liberating and I keep my head shaved. Well, I grow about one inch of “winter hair” because my head gets too cold in the winter, but I find it hard to keep that inch on. I guess I stopped thinking about whether or not I was attractive without hair. It stopped being so important. I had nothing to brush or primp or constantly talk about. My sense of being attractive became disassociated from my appearance. Now, having said that, I’ll say that I see myself as an attractive person and when I’m in the mood, I’m a fierce dresser baby. But it’s important for me to be attractive and confident on the inside. I don’t  think you can pull off bald without a lot of confidence.

Maybe that’s what people are reacting to with Britney? She shaved her head but not as a strong statement about herself, it’s just some kind of bizarre reaction in a long string of bizarre reactions. And she made a symbol out of her hair – apparently (I keep reading that but I had no idea since I’ve never had much interest in her). Maybe that’s why people are freaking out? But I think the media is doing her a huge disservice. They could say “Whoa! Different … but cool” and let her come to terms with herself instead of all the atrociously negative comments about how unattractive she is now. She actually looks ok like that. She might not want to keep the shaved look forever but, to me, this is so negative for all women. It just embeds a cultural expectation, a “value” of sorts that women are only attractive if they have pretty hair.

Hair is nice. I loved my hair. Some day I might grow it again and love it some more. But not having hair is great too. I love, love, love not having any hair. I planned to grow my hair back after that first shaving but then a friend of mine was going through chemo and I kept my head shaved to show her some solidarity. She loved going out together and not feeling like she had hide her head in a scarf or hat. She and I got to talking about all the different kinds of punishments that women have had to face and how often their hair is a prime target to make them feel dehumanized and outcast, to mark them in a negative way, to take away their womanhood and femininity. If we shaved our heads now, what could they possibly take away from us? Now, she’s cancer-free (woot!!) and we both keep our heads shaved. We’ve joked about this becoming like Johnny Cash and black clothes, but maybe it is a bit of the same. There are a lot of reasons we want to stay baldies.

Girls, cutting or shaving your head doesn’t take away your femininity. You will always be as pretty and feminine as you want to be. Or you will be a glorious diva like me! LOL!! But please, if you do shave your head and you have remorse after, just get a hat. Don’t raid poor Carol Channing’s House of Wigs because girlfriend needs her wigs.

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I can almost hear the horns winding

Yesterday I went to see Pan’s Labyrinth. I expected it to be some fantastical type of movie with the usual epic or not-quite-epic (read “lame”)  storyline. I thought the whole marvel of the movie was in the set or the scenery or the Spanish. I most definitely did not expect to find myself in the midst of a true story of Faerie.

This is what Pan’s Labyrinth is, it’s a proper faerie story. It’s not sugar-coated and dipped in fluffy marshmallow. There are no glittering tutus and pixie dust. It’s a real exploration of the twilight refuge of Faerie from the often darker world of human brutality and violence. And like a proper faerie story, it won’t leave me alone. It’s still there, hanging off the edge of my consciousness, calling to me to come and explore realms I think I’d rather leave alone and yet …

And yet, I’m not sure I’m the kind of person who can. Faerie knows where kindred spirits hide. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to capture me since I’m long past my youth and innoncence but there are stories they want to wind about me, stories I’ll have no choice but to tell. Is it all in my addled brain? Was it all in Ofelia’s poor, overwrought mind? I love the way the story ends, leaving you to wonder at it. It could be that it was all in her own mind however, there are faerie stories that tell of the mortal side needing to die so that the faerie side can live on – if you have both sides.

Well, all I can say is that the realm of Faerie usually crosses my path in threes. I swear to you I’m not making this up. It started with a dream I had about wandering in that world. I forgot about the dream by the next afternoon when, at the discount bookshop I picked up a copy of Fairies by Alan Lee and Brian Froud. Something just said “pick it up, pick it up,” so I went with it. And then I decided to go up to the cinema and see what the crowd was like for Bridge to Terebithia, which the boy wanted to see. There were too many kids, so I nixed it but since I was already there and I was alone, I looked around for a “grown-ups” movie I could go to; I picked Pan’s Labyrinth.

Interesting …

Wolf Song

I have stood on the rock where my brothers
sent the notes of the wolf song
skirling upwards
to be lovingly woven into the
mantle of Father Sky
where they have been bathed
in the waking wistfulness of
Brother Moon’s mysterious smile

I race the glittering rush of
the St. Lawrence River glinting starlight
Sister River giving back the beauty
of heaven
so unselfish in her love
leading me into the deeper heart
of mystery in the woodlands
darkly flanking the
wisdom of the Great Lakes
uncovering what justice remains
hidden from the cold eyes of man

in the hard street of the city
where men are brought
together by gossamer hopes
and kept together by the
rough rope of despair
I let my song flow through
to touch the winding concrete canyons
waking ancient dreams
of spirit magic

and in the end I am free
to run in the flatlands that still
echo with rhythmic drum sounds
with full notes of the pain
of the plains people so long gone
remembered in the deep earth
mourned by the guardian spirits who
drag their feet across the land
lamenting for their children of sorrow

I can stand beyond the towers of rock and ice
where myths are made
at the western edge on the water
look into yesterday
with eyes that know only the
limits of love, the heights of pain
I am free to sing at last

(November 2003)