Daily Prompt: Do you have a reputation? What is it and where does it come from? Is it accurate? What do you think about it?
Reputation – don’t talk to me about reputation. Reputations come from gossip and those who borrow their opinions from the mouths of others. No woman wants to get a Reputation.
I first got a reputation when I was 17 years old and I decided to dye my hair pink. It was a shocking pink; no fluffy my-little-pony shade for me, then, and this was the 1990s when only punks had colourful hair. For some people, the pink hair told them all they needed to know about me – but for me, their reaction to my pink hair told me everything I needed to know about them. I was not so much rebelling, as conducting my own sociological experiment, observing human nature from behind my bright facade. I was totally invisible at the same time as I was completely conspicuous – everybody noticed me, but nobody looked at me. Nobody looked beyond my shock of hair.
It never occurred to me that this experiment could stick; that this hair colour would still be reflected back at me in the eyes of others, long after I had let the pink fade to the white bleached hair underneath, and even many years later when I had gone back to a respectable brown.
It was the pink hair that first separated me, that first made me ‘other’, although it wasn’t the only thing. In my home town, I would always be viewed as different. Not normal. Someone who didn’t care; someone to whom the rules did not apply. Somehow this made me less human. After this, it was easier to disregard the things that made me human, easier for other people to believe that I didn’t care about anything; so that when I became a single mother the verdict was that, yes of course, I had done this on purpose. Just to be different.
You know you have a reputation when somebody opens a door to you and, as you stand beneath them on the doorstep, holding this small child who would melt anyone’s heart, who would make anyone – anyone who didn’t know you from those days – exclaim and coo
‘Hello, oh isn’t she gorgeous!’
but this is you and it’s your baby, and instead they say
‘Oh, it’s you,’ and wrinkle their nose as if they had smelt something bad and in their eyes you see the memory of your pink hair, and omg the things they heard about you at uni, and didn’t they always know you would turn out this way? You want to defend yourself, explain yourself, tell them no, it wasn’t like that – but reputations aren’t about truth, they’re about gossip and people who take their opinions from the mouths of others.
Reputation. Don’t talk to me about reputation.