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Jun 17 2010

Haircuts, irrationality, and girliness

I chopped off 10 inches of hair today.
I swear it looks better than that photo. My camera is literally falling apart (the duct tape is failing), so taking a good picture was difficult.

Anyway, I’m relieved to have it cut. Starting when I was about 11, I’ve gone through a cycle of cutting my hair chin length, letting it grow out to a length I can donate, and then cutting it short again. I used to donate to Locks of Love, but decided not to anymore due to growing criticism of their practices. This particular pony tail will be donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, whose mission is to “make real hair wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments.” This is especially important to me since my mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I know how much having a wig helped her self esteem when she needed it the most.

Though if you’re a friend or follow me on twitter, you know I’ve been hemming and hawing about this haircut for a while. The hour leading up to my appointment I flip flopped every thirty seconds between just getting a trim and chopping it off. Haircuts are just one of those things I’m irrational about. I know every time I do get it cut I love it and feel so much better – the loss of weight, shorter showers, cuter ‘do – but it unnerves me up until the cut.

Part of it is because I used to hate my hair: Up until college it was a frizzy, untameable mess. One of the reasons I loved Hermione so much as a kid was because I identified with her bushy hair – which is (one reason) why I can’t stand Perfect Shimmering Locks movie Hermione. The first time I donated my hair I joked that I felt bad for whoever got a wig of it. I didn’t have much hair-esteem.

On top of that, my mother forced me to have bangs as a child, which I absolutely loathed. Because my hair is thick and naturally wavy, my bangs had a mind of their own. Every morning my mom would attempt to tame them with a curling iron, but after a couple hours of school they were sticking out the wrong way again. I spent 7th grade running away from my mother whenever she brandished a pair of scissors, rebelling against that awful haircut and growing my bangs out. I don’t care how nice modern styles may look with bangs – I refuse to go through that again.

With bangs gone and the discovery of specialized anti-frizz shampoo and this thing called conditioner, my hair was instantly better. But hair is still a symbol of insecurity for me. I’ve always felt like I was left out of Girl Initiation – that my crucial feminine gene had been deleted or something. Girls, and now Women, all seem to know these standard secrets that I don’t. It’s not that I feel like I must have a certain type of hair or makeup or clothes; it’s that I feel unskilled because even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how to make my hair nice or put on make up or pick out cute outfits. I want that ability to be there.

I’m an overachiever – I don’t like being bad at something. But I have a hard time picking up anything feminine. I do well in school because I learn very well in a traditional classroom environment. When it comes to fashion or style, no one ever sat me down explaining things. The most womanly wisdom my mom ever imparted on me was “One day, you’re going to start bleeding down there” and then showed a very terrified and confused Younger Jen where the pads were.

Now, even if I knew how to put on makeup, I would still probably go makeup-less 99% of the time. It would just be nice if I had the skill so for the 1% of the time where I’m going to a wedding or a club, I can make myself look a little spiffier. But until then, girlish stuff like this gives me horrible anxiety. I recently had a nightmare that I was on America’s Next Top Model and my challenge was to put on makeup in under 2 minutes. After drawing on my face like a four year old who just broke into Mommy’s makeup drawer, Tyra felt so bad that she let me try again. The sad thing is, this isn’t too far off from reality (minus the whole me making it on ANTM without becoming a size zero).

And I feel the same way about hair. It was almost my senior year of high school when a very stereotypically girly teammate on my golf team let me know what conditioner was. And while looking up haircuts for today, I still realized how hopelessly out of the loop I am. I thought blow drying your hair was just to make it dry faster, not for any sort of styling. I have no idea what different types of brushes are, let alone do. I didn’t realize people used curling irons or straighteners for regular hairdos. The stylist put “product” in my hair, and I have no idea what that is or how I could replicate my look.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy with how I look. I don’t feel the need to conform or look a specific way. It’s just frustrating to know there’s a whole body of knowledge that I am completely ignorant about. I felt the same anxiety while learning advanced calculus or magnetism. Hell, I’m much better at advanced calculus and magnetism than I am at feminine things. If I ever have children, I sort of hope I have sons just because I’m terrified of failing my daughters. I don’t want to instill them with the same anxiety I’ve been battling my whole life.

80 comments

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  1. 1
    Charity Tensel

    I remember when I was in forth grade I had my best friend over for a long weekend. I had just moved, so I didn’t get to see her much. My mom was recovering from back surgery and so she had a woman that came in to help her out. She let me and my bff use her make-up. I was having fun, until we finished. They both laughed at me because I looked ridiculous. I had no idea what I was doing. I was so embarrassed.No one ever taught me how to put on make-up and I have never really been very into it, but recently I wanted to learn how to put on eye liner and I found a fantastic how-to on you tube. It looked amazing, once I got the hang of it, like professional. In this internet age, one can learn how to do anything.The haircut looks good. I think that length is cute on you.

  2. 2
    Introbulus

    Even though I am a boy, I fully sympathize with your anxiety-inducing lack of make-self-look-better knowledge. I only recently discovered that hats could be a positive thing for me, and I can still barely match clothes. Also, Jen…F***ing magnets, how DO they work? ;p

  3. 3
    Jen

    I think this is the only line from an ICP song I’ve ever been able to relate to =P

  4. 4
    CAV

    Jen… DON”T FEEL BAD! This girly stuff is not innate, it is a learned thing. I myself had no clue how to put on eyeliner until I was something like 21, when I finally watched someone else put it on (I had one of those “Oooohhh, that’s how you do it” moments). If you don’t have someone to teach you, you aren’t going to just pick it up. Luckily I had a mom that knew about conditioner, but beyond that most of my other girly skills I simply had to learn on my own. For make-up I actually took a stage make-up class… not exactly the same, but the basic principles apply, you just tone it down for regular wear. But you learn how to highlight the eyes blah blah blah. I think you’re main problem is you’re afraid to ask people how to do this stuff. DON’T BE. If you really don’t want to ask people you know, look for answers online or in magazines. Watch shows like “What not to Wear” (particularly the make-up and hairstyle segments, they usually give some decent advice). And the next time you get your hair cut and really like they way the stylist styles it, ask them how you can do it at home. If they are even half-way decent they’ll be happy to tell you how to do it, or give you tips. I know I don’t like to take too much time in the mornings, so when I went in I asked my stylist to give me a haircut that would be easy to make look good, and then had her show me how I could quickly style it in the mornings. Most of them would love to sell you hair product too, so if you tell them what you’re looking for (anti-frizz, volumizing, wet-look, textured) they’ll be able to recommend stuff for you.

  5. 5
    CAV

    Also Jen, you should plan a girly learning event! I’m sure your female readers would be happy to get together and share collective wisdom on this kind of stuff :)

  6. 6
    BeamStalk

    The haircut looks good Jen. When you met me at the Creation Museum, I had just cut my hair from a pony tail to the short spikey style I still have now.

  7. 7
    Kacey

    I like it! it looks good on you.I understand what you mean. I have frizzy hair too, and I only recently learned how to use a straightener. I never used to wear makeup either until my boyfriend’s older sister showed me how. I always with I could wear more girly clothes. I have a few casual dresses in my closet that I bought because I thought they were cute, but I never wear them because I feel like I don’t look very good in them.

  8. 8
    Jaki

    I love the hair!! Looks beautiful!

  9. 9
    Screamer77

    You look great!I have super frizzy untamed hair too :/It takes me about 1,5h to wash it between products and styling… and it’s still frizzy. What shampoo do you use?

  10. 10
    FTD

    Dang, I didn’t know any of that stuff about Locks of Love. I guess I’ll be checking out that Pantene program next time I decide to cut my man-locks.

  11. 11
    MsLeading

    I’m a firm proponent of women’s right to choose to not wear makeup, despite being the progeny of a woman who thinks leaving the house without lipstick is a SCANDAL.But Jen, remind yourself that styling your hair, putting makeup on your face, dressing in fashionable clothes, etc. are all just learned skills. Just like advanced calculus and computer programming, the reason they cause you anxiety is just because you’re unfamiliar with them. And like learning anything else, the only way to get it is by trying, and the first few (ok, many) times you try, you’ll totally suck at it. But do a little research, do a lot of practice, and before you know it, BAM! New skill for you.The way I look at it is that it’s better to know how to do things than to not know how to do things. Sometimes, you might feel like fixing your hair and making up your eyes feeling like a different person for a night – I always see it as a sort of costume, and it’s fun. I know some people who rebel against learning how to do the girly stuff because they feel like it’ll make them a conformist, or superficial, or objectified, or less of a feminist. But knowing how to do something, and choosing whether and when to use that knowledge, doesn’t make you a slave to it; it just makes you better equipped to act on whatever desires may excite and fulfill you in any given moment.But you’re beautiful regardless. :)

  12. 12
    The Mad Engineer

    Somewhere out there, a little girl undergoing chemotherapy thanks you.I better tell my mom about locks of love before she donates her most recent haircut! I didn’t know that about them….

  13. 13
    Jen

    I use Herbal Essences None of Your Frizzness. I’m sure there are even better options out there, but this is good enough for the amount of money I’m willing to spend =P

  14. 14
    Tori Aletheia

    Wait, blow drying is used for more than drying your hair?! WTF? And I’ve only worn make-up once in my life…when my (now) mother-in-law INSISTED I go to senior prom with her son and INSISTED that she put the crap on my face. I knew there was a reason I joined the military: same hairdo and clothes all the time and no make-up!

  15. 15
    lidewij

    I have the exact same thing when it comes to hair.. I just wash/brush it and don’t really bother with/know about the rest of it. Really like your new hair cut, by the way :D <3

  16. 16
    libraboy

    You don’t use make-up? I guess it’s a good thing you have such natural beauty. I never even noticed!

  17. 17
    noelley b

    I dunno, I think I’d pull a sour grapes on this one. Can’t do the girly thing? Screw it. Makeup is stupid, expensive, and its ingredients are under regulated. I consider myself dolled up if I bother to brush my hair.

  18. 18
    Brian Davis

    Good Job! I donated my hair a few years ago, but I’ve never been able to grow it long enough to do it again.I took the opportunity to do a little social experiment though, people are much ruder and less trusting of a guy with a mohawk than one with long hair. I worked at a coffee shop at the time and I was able to correlate the # of rude comments per day and lbs. of coffee sold directly to having a different haircut.

  19. 19
    Jonathan Fesmire

    You are beautiful inside and out. That’s why I read your blog. You look fantastic. :)

  20. 20
    Moneypennybunny

    I too, fail spectacularly at the girly thing. My idea of blow drying is driving with both the car windows open! I know there are people who are appalled by this attitude, but I figure they’re just slaves to marketing. Hair looks awesome btw.

  21. 21
    Andrew Gorman

    Glad you went with that length =)

  22. 22
    April

    Hair looks great Jen!I too am the descendent of the cosmetic-obsessed. I reacted against my mum’s painful two-hour beauty routine, refusing to osmose any makeup, depilation or hair-zhooshing skills, and have had few problems. But just occasionally I think I’d like to have that knowledge. Not in a drawn-out learning process, just downloadable like in the Matrix.”I know makeup.”

  23. 23
    Amanda

    Your hair looks so good at that length, and kudos for donating all these years! My mom also forced bangs on me as a child, AND perms! I only knew about conditioner because I had to pour it on my terrible permed hair to detangle it each day (then still spend an hour combing through it). It was horrible.I was a late bloomer with the girly stuff myself, and I’m still way behind with hair (I can blow dry it with a barrel/round brush to make it straight/less frizzy, and that’s pretty much the extent of my hair knowledge). I have fallen in love with makeup though! I wear mascara every day because I love long lashes and it only takes a few seconds to put on, but I only do the rest of my face if I’m in the mood/have the time. I only learned makeup about a year ago. I learned to apply eyeshadow and foundation by watching youtube video tutorials (there are a lot of girls/makeup artists who have really good videos on makeup application and products). The rest was pretty much trial and error. So yeah I definitely had to learn it myself, too. The internet is a great resource for all these things that you want to know but don’t really know where to start. I don’t know where I’d be without it. lol.

  24. 24
    Meredith

    Wow! I have felt the same way forever. I feel like I was never initiated into the girlyness with everyone else. I can barely use hairspray, much less figure out what different brushes are for. I’m right there with you. :)And if you ever do figure out these things, please, POST THEM. I know I could use the help.

  25. 25
    Michelle

    Your haircut looks very cute. Since college I have gone in cycles of growing my hair out long and then cutting and donated it. I’ve donated twice – both to Locks of Love, though now I’ll have to reconsider. It will be a few years before I cut my hair again, anyway.I’m not good at putting makeup on and most of the time it just annoys me.

  26. 26
    Alicia

    I definitely get the anxiety issue. I know it would cause major anxiety if I was going to have that much cut off. Your hair turned out great!

  27. 27
    Alexrkr7

    Awesome haircut! Exactly what I wanted to see**because I know you cared =p

  28. 28
    Redheadedskeptic

    I wasn’t ever into sports/a tomboy, but I was definitely never good at the feminine stuff, either. I was always in a book, or outside using my imagination. I spent a lot of time later learning how to apply makeup (YouTube taught me how to do hair and makeup), but like you say you won’t wear it most of the time, I don’t, either. Usually, the hair is in a ponytail and left alone, and the face is makeupless. I am about to get a haircut, too. If you come to my house, I will teach you about makeup if you help me with my calculus homework! :D :D

  29. 29
    Introbulus

    And I think this is the first time you’ve ever replied to one of my comments! Hooray for firsts! Or so we think. ;p

  30. 30
    Ray

    Eh, that’s sort of how gender socialization works: invent a bunch of arbitrary and hard-to-follow rules, then convince people they’re deficient if they fail to conform to the rules “naturally” and without effort. It’s a load of crap, really.Like other people said above, fashion skills are learnable skills: read a little, ask a friend who knows about fashion, and practice a little, and you will pick them up.

  31. 31
    Roki_B

    Get a mowhawk. They’re fuckin’ awesome low maintenance badassery.

  32. 32
    Lo

    I think a lot of women/girls feel that way.Hell, I know how to put on makeup, and I often feel like I’m inadequate compared to others around me. A lot of emphasis is put on the “womanly arts,” enough to make it seem as incredibly important when it’s not. I, personally, love doing makeup in the morning. I like sitting in front of a mirror and thinking “What do I want to look like this morning?” It’s also what wakes me up. Instead of drinking a cup of coffee, I wash my face and put something on, even if it’s only some mascara. Things like makeup and fashion can have multiple meanings. A lot of women feel like they have to do them, which isn’t right at all. If you alter your appearance it should be for yourself, not because you feel obligated to do it. Once you’re beyond that, it can be very fun! The whole feminine situation is what you make of it. Obviously you don’t need to be a little sparklebot to be feminine. If it’s something you want to learn, though, go for it. If you want to talk about it, let me know!Michelle Phan on YouTube often does very low key makeup tutorials, and she has a soothing hypnosis voice. (A gamer/anime nerd too!)

  33. 33
    Lo

    Oh, and thanks for the info on the hair donation organizations. I’m growing out my hair for the same reason.

  34. 34
    Elli

    I completely feel you on this “lack of innate feminine style” business and I worry that I’m never going to progress past the “ponytail/tshirt/jeans” look I’ve been rocking for the past couple years. What I find extraordinarily frustrating is trying to reconcile feminist ideas with wanting to look good. I am not at all saying they are incompatible – but the articles about fashion/make-up/accessories are usually have an inherent sexist vibe and that makes it very difficult to take them seriously.As you mentioned you’re an over-achiever and you find it difficult to be bad at something – I feel the same way. There is so much information out there, so many places to go wrong and no real “intro to being a trendy chick” course that it’s really just easier to err on the side of safety and stick with the t-shirts and jeans.

  35. 35
    Teri2

    Yes, thanks for the hair donation info. I had no idea. I would like to hear about why you don’t like the movie Hermoine. I think it’s amazing what good hair/make-up artists can do. Good thing nature took care of you and you don’t need all that. Kills me to see girls spend hours on their looks and not on their studies.

  36. 36
    Sam

    I’ve had fun learning to cut my own and my friends’ hair too- they trust me a lot, despite any real training. : ) The awesome high from doing it yourself and it turning out even just ok is super worth it. Also, good for poor students. As for innate female things… I didn’t know until about a year ago that there was any alternative to disposable feminine products. Trying to talk about it with my mom (she does everything short of screaming at the mention of a menstrual cup) is like torture. So, we just… ignore that fact of life. Makeup-wise, I think its far more worth it to be comfortable with your face and body the way it is rather than changing it to fit someone else’s standard. Wearing makeup means I can’t rub my eyes if I’m tired, or scratch my face if it itches, or lay my head down for a quick nap without something being messed up.. Whatever beauty I can fake other people into believing I have is not worth sacrificing having a real face. I like my face. Yeah. And, your haircut looks nice. It might get curlier because it’s not being weighed down what you cut off.

  37. 37
    Angela

    I always tell people I was up a tree when they taught all the other girls to do hair and makeup. Over time, I’ve picked up a bit on applying basic makeup as long as I have it in front of me, but I get hopelessly lost if sent into the cosmetics section to do something other than find an exact duplicate of an empty container I already have. During the stress of grad school applications I broke out horribly, which didn’t look good for interviews, and spent over an hour wandering around aimlessly in search of some sort of concealer. My uber-girly roommate approved of what I brought back, but I begged her never to make me go alone again… I’m rather pathetic with hair too, but I’m lucky enough to have bone-straight hair to begin with, so I can usually get away with just wearing it down.

  38. 38
    EdenBunny

    That haircut looks great- but then you’d look good even if you were bald… Given that fact plus the fact that you inherited half of your DNA from your mom, I’m guessing she probably didn’t need the wig to look gorgeous either!

  39. 39
    Keelyellenmarie

    I understand where you’re coming from. My mom isn’t really a hair/makeup/fashion person, and I never had much intuition for it myself. I was the kid who let her mother buy her horribly out-of-fashion clothing for years. I knew enough to know I was out of the loop… but not really enough to copy fashion. Nice t-shirts & non-mom-jeans was a move I made in middle school, and that’s pretty much as far as I got. The only reason I learned how to do make-up is because I did theatre for a bit and it was absolutely required. And even then, I had to have my aunt teach me because my mother didn’t really want any part of it. A similar situation made me finally become competent with a curling iron… curled hair was required for the Purdue Christmas Show… some of the other girls taught me. I’m still hopeless with eyeliner, though my younger sister has made attempts to teach me (after learning from girlier friends).The one thing I can’t imagine, though, is how you survived so long without conditioner. My hair can be unmanageable at times even with it, and I’m sure I would have just given up entirely without it.

  40. 40
    Dale Husband

    “On top of that, my mother forced me to have bangs as a child, which I absolutely loathed.”And why would you mother do such a thing? Was there something about her religion that required you to have bangs?

  41. 41
    Egoistpaul

    This picture of yours causes almost the same level of intensity of a certain psychological process inside a typical male homo sapien’s brain as the other one in your blog. I wonder if this is caused by the same biological urge as the other picture was months ago.

  42. 42
    JoJo S.

    I feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel ya. I’ve got a mess of curls and have NO IDEA what to do with them. Only now am I learning very slowly (I’m almost 22). Good to know about Locks of Love though — hmm. What do they do with the money they make?Your haircut looks faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous!

  43. 43
    beardedskeptic

    Looks good.There are a ton of YouTube videos for how to style your hair, and how to apply make-up. I looked up some of the hair ones myself, because I still don’t understand how people don’t wash their hair everyday and it isn’t all over the place. My hair looks so much better if I don’t wash it, but a week after getting cut my hair is always too long and is all over the place (I also have two terrible cowlicks that make styling my hair to one side or the other problematic). Product, and good product, is amazing. I use this fiber cream that seems expensive, but it lasts a while (despite the small container). It keeps my hair from poofing out with all the washing.Im a dude though with a glorious beard, so the hair on top of my head is irrelevant next to the bushy glory below.

  44. 44
    beardedskeptic

    I totally did not mean that last sentence to sound how it does. I so wish you could edit posts or that my work didn’t have a really outdated version of IE so I could edit posts if its possible.

  45. 45
    Rutybear

    My suggestion ( as one geek girl to another) is get your colours done.On my 22nd birthday my mother the fashionista took me to a stylist to have my colours professionally done. I found out so much that has helped me with my personal style and understanding fashion generally.If you go to the right place it won’t be cheap but you should get the following: a good impartial overview of your current style, your body shape, skin and hair tone and a recommendation of the colours that would work best with them. As well as instructions on how you should do your make up and hair (minimum effort, maximum positive results) and what ‘season’ (colour range) you are. Finally they should also give you a manual or swatch guide to help you match your colours in future. :)

  46. 46
    A-M

    Like you, the day I discovered conditioner was a special day! I was also amazed to see how much good a funky pair of specs did for my “look”. I don’t like the word “look” though, it implies I was conscienciously aiming for something. My saving grace – naturally straight hair. Phew. It might be boring, but at least it obeys gravity.

  47. 47
    kendermouse

    As most of the others have said, girly stuff has to be learned. I figured out makeup by watching my friends and female relatives, and reading magazines. (This was before the days when anything could be found on the internet.) I never did learn hair. My mother fixed my hair until I was about eight, then one day just told me I was on my own, without even bothering to teach me how to do a simple ponytail. I eventually learned that much on my own, but not much else. Fortunately, I wasn’t very girly, so didn’t really care. Unfortunately, my daughter IS girly, but luckily, she has friends who can help her with that stuff.

  48. 48
    Karin

    Jen, imagine having frizzy curly hair….. and no frizz shampoo, conditioner or anything helps beyond 2 hours….I just got back from applying for a passport and they thought at first that my picture was too big…. turned out it was just my hair that was too big……..

  49. 49
    Diane Oldermusicgeek

    don’t know if this will make you feel better or not, but a lot of trans women are in the same boat. hard to learn all that girly stuff when you’re full grown!but the hair looks great!

  50. 50
    Not Guilty

    It’s a process! I didn’t start wearing mascara until 2nd year university. I still keep my make-up very simple. My skin has recently cleared up (though it was never bad) so I’ve gone without any make-up more often. I relatively recently cut 10+inches of my hair off and I love it. My hair is curly so in 2 minutes I mousse and hairspray and I’m off. That is really what you have to do: find a way to do your hair fast and simple and stick with it. I love my hair; I’ve always said it was my best asset! It looks great btw!

  51. 51
    CarrieP

    1. Love the new hair. If you are somewhat intimidated by stying stuff, ask your cosmetologist for advice. Any good stylist worth their salt, and if you trust him/her, should be able to give you tips, and not upsell you on the latest “product” you won’t use. My stylist is fantastic on this. She’s been doing hair for 20 years, knows the styles, and knows how to teach me stuff. A recent tip on sideburns was a revelation.2. Do you have a sister or friend who can mentor you or your Future/Ficticious Unborn Children? My little sister was invaluable to me figuring out the fashion/hair/makeup thing. 3. The Beauty Brains is a pretty great science-based resource for info on beauty and hair products. It may make it less scary for you if they approach the products in terms of chemical names and what they do, instead of a “how to apply makeup” guide.4. Practice is your friend here. Even if you’re not wanting to do makeup a lot, the more you practice, the easier it will be. Hell, I’m in my 30′s and only got passsably competent at this stuff last year. 5. Your skin, from what I can tell of your pics, is great, and I don’t think you’d need all that much makeup. You don’t want to trowel it on, that look flatters no-one.

  52. 52
    E5

    If I knew anything about girly stuff I bet I could make a bunch of money with a beauty boot camp of sorts for geeky girls.I’m with many of you in the clueless on fashion and make up department. Heck, I buy pants in the men’s department because they have pockets. I’m an engineer and I need pockets! Stupid clothing designers.I love when I get compliments on my face, and jealous looks from people though. “Your skin is so smooth, how do you do it?” “umm…by not wasting time and money applying weird stuff to my skin?” My 25th birthday a co-worker bought me an eye lash curler and mascara. She then showed me how to use them in the restroom at work. It was weird, but appreciated. She’s a good enough friend that I wasn’t offended.So now, at age 28 my stores of make up include: blush, lipstick, eye shadow and mascara, which I wear maybe 3 times a year.One of these days maybe I’ll buy a hair dryer.

  53. 53
    VeritasTruthseeker

    Speaking as someone who gets a haircut once a year, I know how it feels when you go in.Also, after that massive sunburn, you’re still pasty? Wow.

  54. 54
    JD

    pretty long post about frickin’ hair…

  55. 55
    hippiefemme

    I am so pleased that you let us know about Locks of Love! I’ve cut my hair twice for that organization. I’ll send future ponytails to the Pantene group or some other veritable charity.My grandmother’s a breast cancer survivor, so I can understand the desire to help people undergoing chemo. In fact, that’s what Locks of Love had claimed to do when I sent my hair. I’m a two-time Race for the Cure completer, and I have a tattoo of a pink ribbon on my ankle, so one could say that I’m a bit dedicated.

  56. 56
    Georgia Sam

    My second-hand hair story: My wife has beautiful naturally curly (very tight curls) red hair. When I first met her she would just run a comb through it & let it curl after washing it, & to me it looked great, but she has decided she doesn’t like it that way. Now she spends 20-30 minutes every day with a hair dryer & brush, straightening & shaping it. This baffles me. Oldest cliche in the world, I guess, but there are some things about women I will never understand.

  57. 57
    Witchofthewhip

    The haircut looks great!If you’re interested in learning a few makeup tips, I highly recommend going to one of the makeup kiosks, like at Macy’s, or Sephora. Usually, you can make a free appointment, and they’ll walk you through what products they’re using and what they’re doing.

  58. 58
    Sal Bro

    I did the same research about hair donation and came up with the same result (Pantene; NOT LoL) a couple of years ago. Partly, I hated that my hair donation would most likely not end up in a wig; also, I thought there might be more need for wigs among adult women, and I liked Pantene’s focus on adults.It looks/sounds like my hair is pretty similar to yours. I’d really recommend staying away from shampoos with sodium laurel (laureth) sulfate, as they can be VERY drying. I use Dr. Bronner’s, instead (found in hippie stores/health sections)–it’s an all-purpose soap, safe for hair and skin, and not expensive. Plus, it lasts forever.Lastly, I LOVE wave lotion. It adds body, isn’t crunchy or stiff, and keeps the frizzies away. It’s sometimes hard to find, though; I can usually get it in a pharmacy hair care isle, but sometimes I have to shop in the “ethnic” hair section. It’s not expensive, and it’s one of very few must-have “beauty” items that I use.As for makeup–you don’t have to get fancy, if you do anything at all. You could easily get away with mascara and lip gloss for most times where you want makeup, and they’re both easy to learn. If you want to get a little fancier, raisin-colored eyeliner would look good with your eye color and complexion (it’s as easy as brown but looks fancier)–Almay makes one in either pencil or liquid.As others have said, though, don’t feel insecure about what you don’t know, and don’t feel like you even have to “know” any of this crap.

  59. 59
    Quatguy

    Looks great Jen, I personally have always found short hair on women more sexy than long hair.

  60. 60
    RG

    Hah, I can so relate to this post! My hair is naturally curly, which means it’s a natural bird’s nest. Up until I was 17 I didn’t know what I could do about it, so I just let it be unruly and frizzy and horrible. Then four years ago (in grade 12) I discovered this stuff called curl-scrunching gel, which actually makes my hair look nicely curly, rather than scary. As for makeup, I only know how to put on stage makeup (having danced for 8 years). Needless to say, wearing stage makeup around town would attract stares. When it comes to applying natural-looking makeup, I’m clueless. Not that I care – beauty products are tested on animals too often for my comfort, and the whole idea of having to paint your face to look beautiful is just ridiculous to me.

  61. 61
    Anna Jobsis

    I can totally relate to the “girl gene” thing. It’s probably only fairly recently, that I started to embrace the more girly side of my personality (or at least made peace with it). But I still have no clue when it comes to make up, and I probably only wear it maybe 2-3 times per year. My hair though is a wooly mess if I don’t tame it with the hair straightener (Oh, GHD, how I love thee).

  62. 62
    Anna Jobsis

    Also, your new haircut looks great!

  63. 63
    2farnorth

    You look absolutely gorgeous! Though….for a post about your hair, I had a difficult time focusing on it – I suggest a further cropping of the picture may be needed. Some weak heterosexual males tend to be distracted ;-)P.S. I had awful hair as a teenager – huge, thick, and it curled in the back. The last 15 years of shaving my head have been GLORIOUS! Of course, there’s a lot less to shave these days, hehe

  64. 64
    Vicar's Daughter

    Hehe – I was nodding all the way through your post. I consider myself fully made up if I put on a bit of tinted moisturiser and some lipstick. My short hair gets a splodge of gloop and it’s done!

  65. 65
    Ruby Leigh

    I did not read all the comments, so apologies for any redundancy. I too was rather slow in learning all things girly. I’m 25, and I just learned recently how to put on blush. I was doing it before, but apparently way wrong. I still don’t wear makeup everyday, but I do feel a lot more confident about it when I do. Also, I noticed another parallel here which is that I have a pretty high self-esteem despite my non-girliness. Seems like you do too, but can’t help but wonder if there is a correlation between girls who value “learning science” and “higher self-esteem” love to see a statistically valid study done with that hypothesis done on that. Any ideas on how to approach that?

  66. 66
    Vixen Strangely

    I think the haircut suits you–I think it’s what they call “face-framing” and I think it comliments you. Also, I know what you mean about the relief of cutting it. I went down to a dramatically short style about three times (once at college, to a edgy punkish cut where the neck area was practically shaved), once about twelve years ago to what I thought would be a sort of boyish, easy-to-style (heh–with my waves? not so much) cut, and then in 2005, I damn near gave myself a buzzcut. Always with the idea that it would be easier–But I’m probably one of those innate girly-types. I picked up all that make-up stuff out of my mom’s (who is the earth-mother hippie prototype–her hair was long, parted, zero make-up, casual clothes, since I’ve known her–which would be since birth, yeah? Long time.) women’s mags to start. Although I mostly learned putting on makeup from starting Goth and going in reverse.My hair is long and I use salon-grade products from Ross and Marshalls (to get them on the cheap) to tame frizz and make my curls look deliberate–mostly I wear pony-tails, though. I always *think* about paring down to a “sensible” cut and less make-up, but it’s just like my vow to have a smaller purse and stop carrying: a flashlight, pen, notebook, scissors, book, water, Splenda, hand sanitizer, etc.) –I’m natively cluttered. And my appearance is sort of natively a bit of an art project.I sort of envy being able to not “girl-up” (or what you see as being unable to.) Sometimes I see my self-ministrations as drag–but fashion is part of my self-expression. My limitations involve eyeliner and gloss which I stick at needing–yours at fussing with the unfussworthy because you have better things to do. I think it’s chacon a son gout. And people are most beautiful when they follow their own style, anyway.

  67. 67
    Anne

    I completely agree!I just got my hair cut, and I finally asked the stylist how I could do it up when I wanted to be fancy – and she showed me how to use hair spray!And my mother-in-law showed me how to put on mascara yesterday.All these are things I feel bad at, and have never learned from anyone – but I’m finding the courage to ask now – mostly because I am attending a wedding soon, and want to try to look spiffy ;)And I’m 21 – I’ve never used make-up in my life before. It’s not embarrasing to ask – especially not professionals – that’s what they’re there for ;)

  68. 68
    Nora Arnette

    Your hair looks great! I love it! :D I know what you mean about hair. I used to get my hair cut short a lot. The Summer of 2009 was a year when I kept CUTTING and CUTTING and CUTTING it shorter and it was AWFUL. Now I’m growing it back, but for personal purposes that are just pretty much just selfish. But it’s petty, so it won’t matter at the end of the day. xDUnlike you, my hair has always been a source of confidence boosting for me, once it’s styled and only when it’s long. My hair is naturally wavy and at the length it’s at now, not straightening it results in something that looks like my hair dresser gave me a failed “Farrah Wave” and decided to pour on an entire bottle of hair spray on my hair while she was at it.Anyway, it’s bad. :/Plus I’m a natural brunette, but I’ve always had a fascination with red heads so I dye my hair red all the time. I just like it better than brown. It’s just me.Ah, but what do I know. Hair is hair is hair. it’s on places other than our hair as well, so sometimes, things are as good as they get once you’ve made a compromise or a way to make it work.

  69. 69
    JenLillith

    Jezebel has been running a rather invaluable series of posts on makeup, hair, etc., called Beauty 101. It’s helped me out enough that I’ve bookmarked each post [though I don't think any advice could ever convert me to wearing foundation]. Thanks for the info about hair donation–I’ve been trying to psych myself up to chop off my almost waist-length hair. The biggest turn-off, besides bad experiences with Mom-chosen short styles when I was a kid, is knowing I’ll have to go to the salon for upkeep. It’s been five years since my last professional haircut… yeah, not a fan.

  70. 70
    Gloria

    Thank you for the line about daughters v. sons. It’s exactly the way I’ve been feeling all my life.

  71. 71
    Alley

    I know how you feel: makeup and styling were never my fortes. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, if you’re from the OC like I am) I never cared all too much about fitting in. Power to you, girl, for donating and for standing up as an individual! You’re the type of role-model a girl needs, and I’m glad I can look up to you. =]

  72. 72
    Autumn Reinhardt Simpson

    I think you shouldn’t worry about having daughters. “Failing” them by not being able to teach them to be a stereotypical girl is okay in my book! Besides, if they really get into that stuff, they’ll find friends to teach them.

  73. 73
    kariedgerton

    I’m a huge girly girl. I love bright colours on my eyes. I usually don’t wear make-up because I work at Home Depot and it doesn’t matter. Anyway, I had to learn about make by myself. It’s going to sound corny, but I learned about make-up from Seventeen magazine. Once I learned how to apply it, I got to experiment with colours and things. I usually always have lip gloss to keep my lips from being chapped.

  74. 74
    Jessica 'Casebeer' Williams

    I have the same issue with girly things but I’m slowly getting better. I put on makeup for special occasions but it’s more of a barely-there look than anything to make me look more attractive. I understand that people style thier hair with blow dryers but I haven’t quite gotten the trick of holding a brush in one hand and dryer in the other and actually getting them both at the correct angles to do anything but make my hair poof out even worse. I’m getting better with the whole matching different clothes and layering type things but I still mostly stall at “does this outfit go with the black shoes or the brown shoes?” They really should offer optional fashion classes at some point so girls can figure out things like how to apply mascara and guys can learn how to tie a tie.

  75. 75
    The Plaid Avenger

    Jen, the more i read of your blog, the more we seem to have in common, and i couldn’t resist commenting this time. except for the whole frizzy hair thing (mine has always been notoriously fine and refuses to do anything except just lay there), your hair experience has been mine, almost to the the letter, as has your experience with “girly-ness” in general. “femininity” just is not “me”, and it’s certainly not worth the time, money, or effort (it doesn’t come naturally to me either), trying to figure out what constitutes “cute clothes” or slathering on makeup. and hair…hair is probably the biggest scam of them all. “pretty hair” is “girly”, and 99% of the products they push on you (sprays, mousses, blow dryers, hot irons, dyes, “product”, etc.) are about beating your hair into submission rather than keeping it healthy. even though you’re doing all of these things to try to make your hair look “pretty”, in the long run, it harms your hair, which is particularly bad if you’re interested in growing out your hair to donate to a good cause. when it comes to the care and feeding of healthy, beautiful hair, less tends to be more. it’s dirty little secret that salons don’t want the general public to know about.

  76. 76
    Metal_Warrior

    As a male member of mankind I’m ignorant about everything regarding feminine things, but if it helps: My hair is to me what “The Smell” is to “Foul Ole Ron” – part of my body, but with a personality of it’s own. “Hell of a mess” is a good description, come to think of if.

  77. 77
    Uschi

    The cut looks very nice on you! And I agree with the Plaid Avenger, much of that “styling stuff” isn’t good for your hair (straightening and perming are the fastest ways to ruin hair btw.). I think concerning hair less is often more, e.g. trying not to wash every day but going for longer intervals, air-drying instead of blow-drying etc. For me, this strategy totally works (my hair is almost waist-long), and as I normally put on make-up every morning due to slight skin issues, I would go nuts if I had to take too much time for hairstyling, too ;-)Concerning the make-up thing: If I was you, I wouldn’t bother with foundation as your skin is just perfect (= no need for foundation). So if you want to experiment, just start slowly with concealer under the eyes (please don’t hold that remark against me ;-)), black mascara, a neutral brown eyeshadow and a nude lip gloss. With this, you won’t be able to produce a make-up catastrophe ;-), and if you like it you can slowly progress to the more difficult things like finding the right colors for a more intense eye-make-up and lipstick.

  78. 78
    Ariel Cheung

    Wow I had no idea Locks of Love had all that going on. Thanks for the info … I hate when non-profits get all messed up like that. Like you, I usually go through the stages of long hair, short hair, so I’ve been sending my hair to LoL since I was 11 years old. Now, I’ll seek out alternative places to donate.If you’re clueless about makeup (as so many of us are haha), I really recommend watching “What Not to Wear.” The makeup artist, Carmindy, has some great advice for women who want to look nice but natural. She has simple, easy-to-follow steps for what she calls the “five-minute face.” Check it out!

  79. 79
    MixieRae

    You’re coming to Seattle soon, right? Hit Sephora downtown and ask one of the nice folks there to give you a demonstration of some basic tips. I used to be mega-goth and then I had to go to a fancy grandparents dress-up event and needed to know how to do “real person makeup” as I put it. I said “show me how to do something simple and attractive with my eyes; it cannot take me more than five minutes to do myself.” They delivered, and I can whip through my whole hair & makeup routine in maybe 10 minutes now. I agree; it’s just nice to have the skills!

  80. 80
    Godfrey Zone

    Part of your charm is that you’re unconcerned with the ordinary realities of conventional attractiveness. Be yourself. I was a tomboy (my husband and I wore the same Costco cargo pants and sweatshirts… sometimes simultaneously) until I was in my late 30′s and a girly friend of mine finally went through my closet and chucked out all the shapeless stuff and helped me pick out some more flattering clothes and makeup. And if she hadn’t… Oh well! I’d still be happy and my husband would still have loved me!

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