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People Mistake Me for a Karen All the Time

·979 words·5 mins
Relationships Survival

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a pretty low-key person in my everyday life. I’m told I seem nice when you meet me, but I’m not terribly memorable in appearance. Nothing special to look at. Like a movie extra who blends into the crowd.

I have black hair. It’s not exactly my natural color at this point. I went a few shades darker than the dark brown that I came into the world with.

I didn’t dye my hair at all until I was 30 and going through a divorce. I had a lot of gray hairs and I’d always wondered what it would be like to dye my hair. I had a few close friends growing up who dyed theirs all the time — they had naturally light hair, blond to sandy brown at the darkest.

I remember standing over one of my friends in the shower, wearing those plastic gloves that come in kits and helping her wash the red hair dye out of her hair, watching as it trickled down into the drain. It looked all the world like blood.

Wild experience.

And as I watched the dye flow down the drain, I felt that familiar pang of envy. Going red would be so much more of an ordeal for me, since it would mean stripping color from my very dark hair.

I quickly quashed that feeling. And shrugged it off.

My hair was so dark that I ruled it out. Yes, I could go darker, but I figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference. But later, right before my divorce, I made a new friend, a beautiful woman with raven black hair. She had a very similar complexion to mine. And the color looked good on her.

And in the midst of all the stress from the divorce (which was an amicable one, but legal stuff is always stressful, even when amicable), I had that stereotypical urge to change my appearance. You know… the jokes about cutting off all your hair or giving yourself bangs or getting a tattoo? They’re based on something. You want to make a transition somehow.

So I went out and got a bottle of hair dye in a nice natural looking blue-black. I got some help from my boyfriend — and a short while later, I looked fantastic. Like a completely new me.

People Mistake Me for a Karen All the Time

In my everyday life, I feel like I dress nicely but nothing too flashy. I definitely have a style. I’d say… feminine and artsy — but nothing too outré. When I’m going to a party and going all out, I’ll do the pin-up thing (the girl next store, just sexed up). But I don’t do that much in my daily life. My daily wear is not over the top. And a lot of times if I’m going into an unfamiliar situation — going somewhere new — I’ll wear even more conservative clothes. Business casual. Or something you’d wear to church.

Part of it is that I’m a little paranoid about my personal safety. So I try to blend in when I’m in a new setting, take pains to not attract attention.

Talking to hairdressers is absolute agony for me. Because they pry and ask me personal questions — but I can tell when they don’t actually care about my answers (which is often). And if I’m completely open and honest with hairdressers, they tend to get very uncomfortable. Because I’m weird. And not in a cool way or one that they recognize.

It’s not even the non-monogamy stuff. Not even the kink stuff. I had a lover one time tell me that the thing they liked most about me was that I rejected the status quo. I do my own thing — and some of it lines up with others and some doesn’t. And I think that’s why. Most people don’t like that. They find it confusing and unsettling.

So it’s always this dance, being polite and not outright lying (unethical, too much to remember) but not creating awkward situations between me and someone holding scissors. I probably overthink it (I overthink everything, another reason I’m arguably not normal). But it always feels like work getting my hair cut.

And I routinely wander into social situations where people see my conventional physical appearance, assume I’m a Karen, and start showing their whole asses around me. Bitching about your basic spoiled Karen shit. Those are my least favorite interactions. How I handle it depends on the situation, the day, and how bad the whole-ass-showing is. Sometimes you need to speak up and confront someone. Other times a simple escape at the soonest opportunity is your best bet.

In any event, it gets exhausting.

And I was talking the other day with a friend who was saying it’s actually helpful that their hair is cotton candy colored and they’re obviously visibly queer in their everyday dress. For background, they are truly a super gorgeous person — meeting them is like meeting a superb mythical character, an avatar of fabulousness descended improbably to Earth.

They look remarkable no matter what they wear. It isn’t hard for them to look special. They just do.

I don’t. I’m rather forgettable. (This is not humility but the truth.) I suppose I could bleach my hair and add in a color not found in nature, but looking at my face, there would always be something very plain staring back at me in the mirror. Very simple and unremarkable. It would be a lot of effort to look like anything other than a movie extra.

So I venture forth, looking disappointingly like me. Getting mistaken for a Karen. A counter-culture spy amongst the normals. Dodging awkward interactions and ingrouping from people with mostly hatreds in their hearts, hatred that they gleefully interpret as pride.


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