I guess, upon much reflection, Id say Ive had a rough life. But Im not crazy with self-pity or anything. Theres a lot of poor girls out there whove had it way worse than me. Hell, theres a lot of people who still do, actually! Now, Im not trying to complain about this either, but I do wish there was a happy-medium category as far as lives go. In most peoples eyes, your life is either really bad, or really good. Either youre a homeless, disease-ridden kid in some 3rd world country, or youre rich and happy with a nice family, perfectly manicured lawn, nice house, and maybe a dog. Or a cat. But the problem here is that my life doesnt fit into either of those scenarios.
I grew up as the only girl in my house. I had two brothers, older, it figures, and my dad. My mom? Well, she left our family by choice when I was really little. I dont really remember much more. Maybe thats why there was always this little, lurking anti-girl vibe in the house
.At least I felt there was. I kind of got picked on just for being the only resident member of the fairer sex. Not serious-business child abuse, just pushed around a lot. The boys screwed with my Barbies and play-makeup, stole and hid my stuffed animals, the list goes on. My dad didnt really do much about it, either. Of course, he stepped up as a parent and told them to stop, but what kid really listens? They got grounded a few times, but a day or two of no TV wasnt a good enough reason to stop. And, of course, being built like a girl, obviously, I couldnt do much to stop it. Especially when there was two of them and only one of me. My dad eventually just turned a blind eye to the whole situation, brushing it off as teasing. Conveniently, my brothers tended to hit and kick me only when my dad was working. And of course, being outnumbered, I was obviously lying for attention when I tried to speak up.
Not much changed as I grew up. My brothers, being normal human kids, grew up, too. They were basically built like football players now, so when they tried to tackle or shove me out of their way, I fell more often than not. A bigger change was that I started to fight back. Not punching or screaming, but a shove and a glare back was something I could muster. Obviously, growing up in a testosterone-fueled home lead me to be a little tomboyish. Plus, it was easier to con my dad into buying me boy toys than begging for Hello Kitty and Chococat jewelry sets or a trip to the doll aisle. The boys had no patience for such girly things, and would whine endlessly over it, occasionally getting us asked to leave, or nearly asked to leave. So, in conclusion, I grew up enjoying my Hot Wheels, Transformers, and Pokemon cards, and sneaking onto the PlayStation while nobody was watching. This isnt to say I didnt have a secret collection of dolls and my Easy Bake oven kept in my somewhat-safe, somewhat-private room, just
.Not as much so as the other little girls in school. Sometimes I was the odd one out at recess because of it. Tomboys arent invited to play house, and girls arent invited to trade cards. After all, we had cooties. Maybe thats why I still go into toy stores and collect cute things to this day. But then I found riot grrrl. Or maybe it found me. And everything changed.
Aside from the issues on the home front, my life had pretty average up until that point. I did a decent job in school, had a normal sized group of friends, and had made it safely to my 15th birthday. I had to do a report for my history class, and my topic was the feminist movements. I didnt think much of it at first, and I dont like history, so I was a little less than willing to put much effort into it at all. However, I was inches away from failing the class, so I had no choice but to boot up my computer and start googling. Much to my surprise, though, when I started researching, some of the stuff really rang a bell within me. So maybe I didnt agree with some of the more extreme ideals some feminists had, like marriage being like slavery, but the core of everything, and the big pictures, I just loved. Equality, the campaigning for womens rights and interests
I liked that. Spending my entire life with an anything girls can do, boys can do better attitude in the air, this idea that I was just as good as any man, that I COULD be on the same plane as any of them, brought a big smile to my face. The cool thing was it was never about one sex being better. It was about both being the same. I was up all night on wikipedia, and eventually, after reading up on the third wave, I discovered a little underground subculture and music scene called Riot Grrrl. It was heavily grounded in the, allow me to quote, DIY philosophy of punk values, and was all about giving women everywhere the power to control their voices and express themselves fully and artistically, especially through things like art, zines, and music.. It talked about a lot of heavier stuff, like rape and abuse, and had a stance of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. And I just adored it from the start, and everyone had a little different definition of it, just based on what it meant to them. There were very few wrong answers, and no discrimination. I just couldnt pull myself away; I looked at covers of old zines and listened to the biggest bands on the scene until I fell asleep at my desk. The minute I woke up, the first thing that popped into my pretty little head was that it was time for a change.
So I brainstormed, even made up a riot grrrl filled playlist to help me think new. First on the agenda was obviously to finish up my researching. A lot of ideas I had in my head seemed very riot grrrl like, or supported the movement, and I wanted to see just how many. I eventually realized it was a brilliant idea to just
adopt the whole thing as my lifestyle, my own little thing. Why not? I figured it was only a matter of time before it just HAPPENED anyways, whether I liked it or not. Second? Find strong women to look up to, whether they were members of bands, or activists, or just girls with brilliant stories. Print pictures for step 3: Redecorate my room, DIY style! No buying new furniture or anything. I hung up pictures and lyrics and just words of inspiration from wall to wall so I could always be around them. Thank God for my own room
.Anyways, the last, but very important, phase in my plan was about me specifically: MAKEOVER! I definitely decided my old hair needed to go from the start, but I didnt really know what to do with it. I figured that there HAD to be a good choice in the massive collection of pictures I had built up in only a day or two, plus it was cheaper than buying some big book or magazine full of headshots and weird hairstyles. As I weeded through the pictures, it hit me that, if I was so set on changing my look, why not change my name
.? I had a fairly solid idea of what I wanted it to be, but I decided to just store it away until the issue of my hair was resolved.
I went out and got hair dye and anything I needed for my room the next day. I was going to do everything myself, just how things should be! Plus, I figured Id definitely have some major bragging rights once everything was done. And I decided I could just go bald if I messed up my hair too badly. That wouldve been different! To avoid an interrogation, I did everything while I was home alone, faking sick to get out of going to the boys soccer game. My first problem actually came in CUTTING my hair. Turns out it was a lot harder than I thought. I just wanted a few inches off, thats all, but apparently my hand isnt too steady. My trim turned into a few inches off
.and some choppy layers. It wasnt what I expected, but to this day Im still pretty proud of how nice it turned out, considering I had to salvage the mess! Figuring if I could manage that, I wasnt too worried about dying my hair at all. Follow some directions on the back of the box, and dont leave it in so long your hair falls out, right? Big deal. Too bad it took one ruined shirt for me to realize I should probably do it in crappy clothes next time.
I can still remember the first time I saw my new self like it was yesterday. So maybe I dont remember exactly what went through my head, but I do remember a strong mix of shock and satisfaction once I saw this hazel-eyed, platinum blonde bombshell with streaks of red in her hair and cutting through her bangs staring back and me. I touched my face lightly, just to make sure it was really me. A large, dopey grin spread across my face, and I leaned into my reflection, whispering as if I was sharing a secret with my best friend.
My name is Panik. Ill make you panic.
And the deed was done.