I’ve got short hair. I’ve had it a few inches off my scalp for the majority of my adult life and never really had an issue. I’m not particularly boyish, and I think it’s fairly obvious, even in the changing times of Caster Semenya and Chaz Bono, that I’m a woman. Unless you’re Korean, in which case brains seem to short circuit when confronted with my chopped locks.
|The Lovely Gen and my short-haired self|
The irony is that Korean men are so metrosexual that I’ve often done a double take to see if the really beautiful boy on the subway is in fact a cute butch girl. But foreigners who do not look like characters from English textbooks are not held to the same standard, and I’ve been stared at and scrutinized for ages on buses, subways, trains and even in bathrooms.
I’ve become used to walking into a public bathroom and being checked out by everyone in there. This is especially common in winter, when my black ski jacket conceals my rather obvious female assets. They turn around, look me up and down, stare at my face for a few seconds and then turn around again slowly, not quite sure but willing to accept that I know where I am. All those women with their identical straight haircuts and identical outfits.
The most memorable occasion was when I was in a hurry to catch a bus in another city. I needed the bathroom really badly and was running to the ladies room. I dashed inside and was gathering some toilet paper (big roll outside, not inside the cubicles. Don’t forget!) when an old lady came storming up behind me. She poked me in the ribs from behind with her umbrella and shouted “NAMJA!” Boy! As in, what the hell are you doing in here, get out!
She pointed and waved, and as I was about to go to a cubicle she grabbed my arm. Anneyo! Yeoja Hwajangshil! No, girls' bathroom! So I unzipped my jacket, smoothed my t-shirt tightly over my boobs and shouted “Yeoja!” The look on her face was worth all the times people looked questioningly at me. Take that, granny! 36C, biyatch!