Since I wrote this short autobiographical piece in 2014, I cut my hair again. It looks like one never really heals from bullying.
I find that some schools, particularly where I used to live, still don’t implement efficient anti-bullying interventions.
Until very recently, I had been wearing my hair short. Short as in shorter than men’s hair, shorter than pixie’s hair, shaved sort of short, bleached, coloured, gold, bright orange, blue, with streaks so contrasted it would burn your eyes like tongues of fire.
I had angry hair.
One evening, I went to the hairdresser, and had them shaved.
That day had been not that nice, for some reason, a guy started insulting me, grabbed me by my then very long hair, and dragged me through the yard, still yelling insults. I managed to run away, requested help from stronger guys, who didn’t move. He grabbed me again, threw me on the ground, kicked my back, my groin and my belly, and dragged me again, until the bell rang, then it was time to go back to class. He released me, and let the handful of hair and skin he had torn off, scatter, with a few drops of blood, on the asphalt.
A guy started insulting me, grabbed me by my then very long hair, and dragged me through the yard.
I was 11, frail. As I type those lines, my scalp still feels the tearing off, my legs remember the scratches, my whole body remembers the horrifying kicking, that I thought, at the time, would never stop, my head that he almost detached from my neck, and my throat yelling for help so loud that my vocal cords felt like they were being torn off too. And the absence, the total absence, the uncanny total absence of help.
I felt rage, for years, I wore my hair short.
I felt rage, for years, I wore my hair short. No one would ever be able to drag me on the ground. I would not be that broken doll. I went through all the colours of the rainbow, I cut, and cut more, I ordered easy to clip on and off extensions, I bought wigs, and I visited more hair salons. There was no broken doll in the mirror: there stood a very bright capillary revoltée.
I let my rage against the bully, and his accomplices, torture my hair, for years.
I felt their nastiness, for years.
Until one day.
One day, I realised, the nastiness was in me. I realised I was being my own bully by sticking to the memory. I also realised that this memory was not the whole truth, and was not even the truth at all. I realised that this guy, who did that to me, was the real victim. Victim of confusion, victim of conditioning, victim of listening to the inane stories of even more confused adults, a boy whose mind was so damaged that he could not realise that he was torturing a young and frail girl, and other children who didn’t make the choice to actually do something good that day, and prevent him from doing it. Bystanders, just like the adults.
And that day, for the first time, I felt compassion. Compassion for him, compassion for me, compassion for them.
And I stopped, cutting my hair.