This Body is a Raincheck

Photo of Hari Nef by Casey Spooner Photo of Hari Nef by Casey Spooner
I bleached my chest hair this weekend!
 
I didn’t bleach all of it—only the upper half around my breast.
 
My trunk looks like some kind of gorgeous half-moon pop tart now, except golden brown on top instead of creamy peroxide white (anything higher than level 20 developer is asking for trouble). I bleached the hair on my head too: a quarter-inch thick helmet with a half-inch shaved back into the hairline like an anemic 16th century baroness.
 
I look really beautiful!
I might even bleach down to my belly.
 
Low-maintenance body projects like this have become something like a bi-monthly ritual for me. I don’t plan or regiment them, I just find that every sixty days or so I’m ready for another crack at finding my body--“finding” being the key word, because I have no idea where it is or what it looks like. My body is here (I need only to look down for confirmation) yet its totally inscrutable to me, some kind of sphinx.
 
My body is a White Mystery Airhead®.
 
It’s definitely an Airhead®--I know that much--but after a good deal of metaphysical sweat I’ve concluded that it’s not a Cherry, Lime, Orange, Watermelon, or Strawberry Airhead®—not even Blue Raspberry.* It is White--which really couldn’t be less remarkable--but it’s also a Mystery. There aren’t words in the English language for how it tastes! My half-moon rug and my Susan-Powter-in-space hairdo are just branding experiments at the end of the day: attempts in translation of the elusive, tangy deliciousness I’ve got inside.
 
So much for “inside;” I want to—I must look how I feel! It’s important to me, and a process both liberating and daunting as someone who identifies (if they must!!) as nonbinary trans*.
 
I’m not a boy and I’m not a girl, so what am I doing?
 
Well to start, I’ve been given the stout and hairy body of a 20-year-old Ashkenazi Jewish boy, which I see as an adequate canvas more than some cosmic plunder. Indeed, I count it as a daily blessing to look at my unadorned naked body in a full-length mirror and not feel like it crash-landed at some horrible distance from where it should have. Like all bodies, my body is a #BodyThatMatters, but I’ve come to see it as—if not far-removed from—then malleable and subject to what I’ve got going on in…my heart? My soul? I’m still figuring this stuff out—and the English language does me no favors! I guess I just see my body as a temple where some radical, gorgeous, and holy shit goes down—important, definitely! But it’s just rocks and columns: painted, carved, and shaped in some god’s image, and the god is me.
 
But back to the bleach!
 
Bleach can put a not-girl like me in an awkward position—and that’s to say nothing of the womenswear in my closet or the baritone cadence of my voice. To bleach away the hair or to shave it off is “feminization” by known standards, yet I see these processes as means to another end—even if I haven’t quite finished defining it yet. When I delete my body hair or throw on a skirt, I’m not trying to look like a woman and I’m trying to not-look like a man; I’m not trying to pass, but I’m definitely not standing still…
 
…clearly, what I’m doing is exhausting myself! I really am! It’s cool, but I am!
 
I’m copping out for now, because this is a process. I’m making it a process. Conclusions of any kind have proven thus far to be the stealthiest kind of trauma.
For now—and maybe forever?—this body is a raincheck, a cliffhanger, an IOU. “Pop tart,” “sphinx,” and “White Mystery,” will have to do for today--which is kind of funny, kind of sad, and kind of cool!
 
This mission to “find” my body is not my whole life, but it’s a big part of it as a performer, student, writer, lover, intern, aesthete, and “international party girl” (party “person?”) living in New York City who’s gonna turn 21 in a few months.
 
I don’t know what comes next, but I do know the bleach comes cheap.
 
________________________________________________________________
*No shade to Blue Raspeberry!
Hari Nef

Hari Nef is a performance artist, student, and aesthete living in New York City. A theatre undergrad at Columbia, a founding sister of drag coven Chez Deep, a fixture of nightlife collective #TOP8FRIENDS, and a full-time fashion intern, Hari insists on some time to write. Since moving to New York from Boston in 2011, Hari has performed at Dixon Place, Ace Hotel, Ars Nova, Chez Andre, Cameo Gallery, and recently in London, Paris, and Art Basel Miami Beach. In 2012, Hari received honors from Columbia's Joshua A. Feigenbaum Prize for Literature Humanities, and was a finalist in DIS Magazine's DISCrit international art student contest.

Website: harinef.tumblr.com

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3 comments

  • Dee

    just the right amount of drugs, now you can steadily decrease your intake or maintain that balance, idc.

    Dee Comment Link
  • Chris VonTanner

    Beautifully written, Hari...even though I am not trans, I feel like you took me on an incredible trip through one stage of your ever changing body or your ever changing perception of your body.
    Thank you for that little piece of voyeuristic heaven.
    Chris VonTanner
    Scream-like-a-girl Records

    Chris VonTanner Comment Link
  • Mehron

    gorgeous welcome to a gorgeous temple

    Mehron Comment Link

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