When I was in 1st grade, I had a pixie-style haircut: short and kinda boyish, but cute. It didn’t help that I was a total tomboy, though, forever with scabs on my knees; people thought I was a boy. This is why I’ve had my ears pierced since I was six.
Anyway, all the girls in class had long hair. They would twist it around their fingers, suck on the ends and nibble on the tips (even though I’m talking about 7 year old girls, let’s not get too excited here, guys) and I was jealous. I felt like I wasn’t a real girl or that I totally stood out because I didn’t suck on my hair like the other girls. I remember this one whose hair looked like cat tails—wet cat tails. Just a bunch of sucked on clumps of hair hanging from her head.
Ever the problem solver, I figured out what to do. So I began pulling clumps of hair out of the top of my head and sucking on them. Not just a strand or two, but I would pull handfuls of my own hair out of my head so I could suck on my hair like everyone else. I vividly remember sitting in the back of our beige Pontiac Station Wagon showing Pookie how it didn’t even hurt to pull all that hair out at once. I even got a bald spot.
For some reason or another, I grew out of this. I think it had something to do with convincing my mother to let me grow my hair out, since I do know I had at least shoulder-length hair by third grade.
When I was in college, my mother and I were chatting about something and the issue of me pulling out my hair came up. She told me about it as if I didn’t remember: “you were pulling your hair out in clumps! We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with you. I thought it was an anxiety thing and was getting ready to put you in therapy!”
No, mother, I explained. I was fully aware of my behavior. I just wanted longer hair.