Call 2018 By Its Name

I told myself in 2018 I was going to write, somewhere, about something personal every week. Here goes.

This wasn’t the easiest re-entry, though I hadn’t expected it to be. January is awards season, and you come crashing back into it fast, with the Golden Globes almost always the first Sunday after the holiday break. We prep going back into November but every year it’s still a shock to the system. Add on top of that everyone else in our company (non-awards season-reliant divisions) rested and ready to come in all invigorated and ready to plan How Things Will Be Better in 2018. I wish our fiscal year started in March.

I came back well-rested (and decided to take the observations of such as a compliment given I know exactly how ragged I felt by the time I checked out in December). I’ve struggled not to be overwhelmed and exhausted all week, and to remind myself that’s how it always is after a nice solid vacation.

I also came back with a new hairdo. I have never really had a signature hairstyle because 95 percent of my grooming is about controlling the Beast, and wresting that control in my favor already seemed like the highest bar possible to expect. But after we saw the devastatingly excellent Call Me By Your Name last weekend, the night before New Year’s Eve, I fixated a bit on one slice of the early ’80s scene-making: the side-swept long curls worn by Elio’s sometimes girlfriend, Marzia.

When we went to Italy in 2014, I was enraptured by how many women wore long messy curls with such bravada. Coming off a year like 2017, with the swoony taste of that film still strong under my tongue, it seemed like finally the time to see whether my workday cosplay — my corporate drag, as it were — could extend finally all the way head to toe.

I tested the look and accompanying retro-ish jumpsuit at a New Year’s Day party, because what good are friends you’ve had for years and years if not to experiment on.

And then I came back to work on Tuesday, coiffed and at least marginally more confident, hair slicked down on one side and curls crimped out on the other.

Why not treat the office like a stage, when so much of what we do there, especially as women, is perform? Every day I act like a person who is not grievously insulted to have to prove my ability to excel in my field, over and over. Every day I consider whether to speak my informed opinion or swallow it down—which will be easier, short-term, medium-term, long-term? Every day I wonder what my career and life would be like were I to be granted the benefit of the doubt half as often as I have seen myself and those I work with and for give it to those who already started with a leg up.

Time’s up, as they’re saying. I am excited to see so many people putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to justice for women in other fields, many of whom need actual, demonstrable legal and financial resources in order to fight back. I loved how Shonda Rhimes said, “We’re a bunch of women used to getting stuff done. And we’re getting stuff done.” (One of the most fundamental truths of organizing I ever learned was that busy people—women—are the ones most likely to make change.)

Black dresses won’t change the world, but they’re forcing an important shift in tone. A hairstyle won’t make that change, either, or even hasten it. But this week, at least, it made me feel more able to face the world with my head held high.

Ciao, bella. Let’s do this.