As you may have gleaned from my numerous references, I’m REALLY SENSITIVE about looking “mannish”. Although I’ve been assured over and over that I do not have “oversized, drag-queen, she-man qualities”, I remain skeptical. This is mostly due to a particular incident that occurred when I was in Grade 7.
As you all know, I was not a very popular girl in elementary school. However, upon turning 13, I fancied myself a “forward thinker” when it came to things like fashion. So I decided that Grade 7 would be my year to “branch out” and become a fashion-trailblazer in the Grade 7 school yard. This meant I would wear combinations of the following:
- blazers with loosely-tied ties over a T-Shirt (I stole this gem from Susanne Somers on TGIF’s smash sensation ‘Step by Step’)
- bright green and bright yellow outfits (I called this my “lemon lime” look)
- cheap fedoras with those “John Lennon round eye” sunglasses that look horrible on EVERYONE (and are, for some reason, back in style)
- Bright orange terry-cloth shorts with cuffs and Simpsons T-Shirts
This was an exciting time in the world of 13-year old fashion. Particularly at my school – if you were a popular girl, there was a “fashion inner circle”…
…basically, all the popular girls would go to The Body Shop in Oakville Place, and would buy those “Body-Shop” T-Shirts that were, like $10.00 with the purchase of a Satsumi Bar of Soap. Then, they would plan with the other popular girls and wear the same Body-Shop shirt on the same day, then tie a knot in the front of it, and they would all skip around happily together, wearing these awful, awful shirts. I was not included in the “Body Shop T-Shirt Inner Circle”, and was shunned for wearing my “Susanne Somers from Step-by-Step” themed attire.
Anyways, probably the most important pop culture event in regards to this particular story, is that the song “Stutter” by Elastica was released. I felt that the lead singer of Elastica had an edgy, coming-of-age look that I wanted to replicate. SHE would never be caught dead wearing a Body Shop T-Shirt. She wore black oversized bowling-team shirts and had short, choppy hair. SWOON!
This meant that, in addition to repeatedly listening to their single, I needed to tape their “Stutter” video off of MuchMusic using a VHS tape. I nervously watched the MuchMusic Countdown on Friday night, waiting with my fingers poised on the VCR “record” button. After waiting painfully through UB40’s “Red Red Wine”, Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants”, Snow’s “Informer”, and The Gin Blossom’s “Follow You Down”, I was soon successful. I subsequently watched the video over and over and over and over, learning from Elastica’s wealth of UK-brand style notes.
Hmmm… dressing in oversized, grungy bowling-team-esque shirts didn’t seem like it would provide enough “Elastica”-ness to really demonstrate my ability to be “cool and fashion-y”… HOW could I differentiate myself? HOW, I ask you? HOW?!!?
It was at this particular moment that I decided to cut my hair boyishly short like the lead singer from Elastica.
…it did not look good.
Here is a mock-up of what I imagine I looked like:
The first day after my hair cut, I remember waiting for the bus… thinking “Maybe it’s not as bad as I think…”
As soon as I entered the bus and saw the reaction from my classmates, I knew that it was, indeed as bad as I thought. And that was really, really bad. I blame this haircut for a myriad of problems that bloomed in my adolescent years, the most dramatic of which was my inability to attract any kind of male attention whatsoever. Yeah. Instead of becoming the “cool and edgy 13-year old girl”, I became the “losery she-boy with short hair and a potato nose”.
And yet, despite the fact that this haircut was responsible for preventing any kind of romantic male interaction until YEARS later, this is not the main reason why I am bringing it up here…
About one week after getting my hair cut, we had a school assembly with a guest speaker. I forget the name of the guest speaker. I forget the subject of the speech. I forget the message that the speaker was trying to convey. What I DO remember, was when she ended her presentation with a Q&A, I raised my hand to ask a question.
She politely looked down at me, sitting obnoxiously in the “losery front row”, and said “Yes, you. The LITTLE BOY sitting in the front row.”
The entire school subsequently erupted into laughter. Any silver of a chance of getting a Grade 7 boyfriend was annihilated.
No amount of Body Shop T-Shirts could dig me out of this horrible, isolated, ‘she-boy’ grave.
I immediately dug down into my psyche, and crystalized this moment in the central lobe of my brain, and made a promise to myself to NEVER EVER EVER cut my hair short ever again.