Lady Gloves & Mufflers

This Is England, 2006

Daily Post prompt: When was the last time you really stood out in a crowd? Are you comfortable in that position, or do you wish you could fade into the woodwork?

The better question is when was the last time I didn’t stand out in a crowd? Unless I’m at a Finnish tattoo convention or the circus, I stand out. That’s just the way it is. Even when I try to blend in, I don’t. I live and work in largely Mexican neighborhoods. I am so not even remotely Mexican. I’m pale, blonde and tall–three traits not necessarily associated with Mexicans. I walk into a store around here and I typically tower over everyone, including the men.

When I was a kid, my glowing pale blondeness used to bother me greatly. All I wanted to do was blend into the crowd. I am of Finnish descent. There are only five million Finns in Finland and even fewer outside. It’s incredibly rare to meet another Finn. I’m tall for a girl. I’m hard of hearing. I’m left-handed. I have synesthesia. I was so shy that the word retarded applied in the clinical way to my social skills. I never felt like I belonged.

It wasn’t until I got older and stopped giving a damn, that I really embraced my oddness. When I was in high school, I started shaving and dying parts of my head, wearing my dad’s old flannels and a pair of army surplus combat boots rarely left my feet.

Even now, I have a pair of these in my closet and still break them out when it rains.
Even now, I have a pair of these in my closet and still break them out when it rains.

The older I get, the less of a crap I give, too (see my post from yesterday). I sported a Chelsea girl haircut for a few years until people kept mistaking me for a racist skinhead thanks to a bunch of movies where skinhead chicks wear Chelseas (I’m looking at you, American History X). I don’t ever want to be mistaken for a racist.

This Is England, 2006
Chelseas from This Is England, 2006

For a year or so, I wore a completely shaved head. It was the best haircut I ever had. Imagine, 20 minutes spent on your hair once a week or so. No need for shampoo, conditioner, brushes, barrettes, pony tail holders, etc. It was heaven until people kept mistaking me for a cancer patient or a lesbian. When I had a shaved head, I got hit on by women all the time. I would rather be mistaken for a lesbian than a racist any day, but it did get old after a while.

After that, I grew my mohawk back. Mohawks aren’t inherently racist or sexually preferential. Mine was glorious. It was huge and pink. It looked like this:

Mohawky goodness.
A self-portrait of my mohawky goodness.

The problem is, mohawks are a pain in the ass. When it got really long, I couldn’t drive with it up. I went to the movies and had to sit in the back row because I was obstructing views. I couldn’t even put it up myself since my arms weren’t long enough. Mohawks are very vain. It takes a lot of effort to have one, but I tell you what, they are fun as hell. I absolutely loved the looks people would give me when I was made up in my peacocky glory. I found it highly entertaining the way people would react. Kids always loved it and wanted to touch my hair while their parents gently tugged their hands in another direction, preferably across the street or to another county.

Why did I have a mohawk? Well, it’s a good question. One for which I don’t really have an answer. When I was just a shy kid trying to blend in, the thought of having a hairstyle that would stop traffic was horrifying to me. So, when I got older and could handle it, I wore my mohawk with pride as a testament that I was no longer that shy little girl. I could handle it now. It wasn’t about the attention–I actually hated it–but my ability to deal with that attention. It was a way to prove to myself that I didn’t have to blend in and it was okay that I didn’t. I could stand out there on my own with people gawking at me and I would survive. I proved to that little girl that it’s not the end of the world to be the center of attention.

Nowadays, I don’t stand out so much. I have a full head of hair that isn’t even dyed pink. I will always have visible tattoos (unless I wear lady gloves), because I made the choice to do that.

Lady gloves and mufflers, camouflaging knuckle tattoos since 1834.
Lady gloves and mufflers, camouflaging knuckle tattoos since 1834. She’s got “love/hate” on hers.

I will always stand out from the crowd a bit, no matter what I do, but that’s okay. Now that I’m not that shy little girl, I can handle it a lot better than I once did. I don’t mind if you stare.