You may have noticed from my photos that I have lovely thick, wavy red hair.
Yeah, that's basically horseshit. What I have--really--is an Afro. I have ultra-curly, tightly kinked dark brown hair. It grows out rather than down in nearly a perfect sphere. It's highly unprofessional and wacky-looking and there's no way I could work in my current job with the kind of crazy rebel hairdo that my scalp naturally grows. It's also been a source of considerable social distress; when I was in school I was bullied mercilessly for my weird hair, and even as an adult I've been embarrassed on morning-afters when my sleep-messed hair partly reverts to craziness.
When I wasn't working such a "conventional" job, when I was in college or working on indie films, I shaved my hair or cut it very short. It was so comfy! But that made me look like a lesbian, which had nearly as many social drawbacks as looking like a genetic freak. (It's amazing how many people will ask "are you a guy or a girl?" to a five-foot person with B-cup breasts and curved hips and a girlish face, if she has short hair. It's amazing how many people would ask that to anyone, but really now.)
So now I do stuff to my hair. I perma-straighten it with lye, dye it a sexier color with ammonia, flat-iron it every morning, tie it up, pin it down, and pour in a metric buttload of sticky junk to make it stay that way. I'd whine about having to have whitey's hair--but I am white! Blue eyes, freckly sunburny skin, Afro. Genetics just isn't a package deal.
I don't mind having the option to change my hair so drastically (and the red really is more vanity than oppression), but it bothers me that I have to do all this just to look "normal." That I would be perceived as deliberately rebellious if I didn't process my hair ten ways from Sunday.
I don't know if my hair wants to be free--it really was pretty tough to manage--but I wish I could at least try it out without being treated like I had a giant "I AM WACKY AND IRRESPONSIBLE" sign on my head.