I am so scared to wear this hat. Maybe scared isn’t the right word. But when it comes to hats, I feel like I need a reason. I can’t wear a hat without some sort of validation. Hats need a purpose, right? Visors keep the sun out. Baseball caps support your favorite team. Snapbacks are for douche-bros. Floppy straw hats are for girls at the beach who obviously don’t sweat as much as I do. I want to be a hat girl. I strive to be a hat girl. But for some reason, I’ve never let myself become one.
Last summer, I bought a hat. It’s the hat everyone has these days—one of those black felt, wide-brimmed, Coachella-chic, witchy hats. When these hats first piqued my interest—back in 2014, I admired from afar—so sure I could never pull off the look myself. They were for models, Jenners and those Instagram-famous girls who look 27 but are actually 14. Black hats were for the California girls that do cool things like romp around the desert eating In-and-Out burgers, always smiling because their metabolisms are so fast they’d win an Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter dash.
I grew up with the belief that there is a time period in a girl’s life where she cannot wear at hat. Maybe it had something to do with the combination of school rules and self esteem issues, but I didn’t wear hats from ages 14 to 18. Plus, my mom always told me I looked great in hats, so naturally I avoided them at all costs. Once, when I was junior in high school, I wore a visor to keep the sun out of my eyes while playing a tennis match. I was so self-conscious the entire game I ended up double faulting on every single serve. While it may have had less to do with the visor and more with my athletic ability, I still blame the hat.
After finishing my sophomore year of college, I made a promise to myself: I was going to be a hat girl. I was now twenty, I drank Pinot Grigio and I had taken public transportation to the city multiple times. If that didn’t qualify me to be a hat-wearer, I don’t know what would.
I put on every black hat I came across that summer (which would probably explain the lice! Kidding.) Yet each time I tried one on, thoughts crept into my mind as I looked in the mirror:
Fast forward nine months, give or take. I haven’t worn the hat. Turns out, becoming a hat girl takes more than owning a hat. I think I can be a hat girl. A couple weeks ago, I bought a khaki felt hat. I don’t know why I did it, I was drawn to it. I am becoming a hat girl that never wears hats, but just collects them.
Children are so mean. Have you ever seen a group of thirteen year olds? They can pinpoint your insecurities and will gleefully call them out! Everyone at one point in time has been terrorized by a child. The most common and, perhaps, most traumatizing moment is being called “gross.” It’s inescapable! You sneeze and snot runs down your nose, a chorus of “Ewww!” surrounds you. You fart, everyone pinches their nose and laughs. However, there is one action so heinous it will affect you into your adult years—the dreaded egg salad sandwich.
Before I begin, let me take some time to say egg salad is one of the great loves of my life. If it is on a menu, I will order it. However, it took me almost twenty years to achieve this comfort level. To not feel like the ‘gross kid’ for enjoying this creamy goodness on rye with tomato and lettuce.
The irony of all this is it wasn’t even me who brought the sandwich for lunch. It was another kid—we’ll call him Todd. From the minute Todd took out his sandwich, he was a marked man. As he began to unwrap it, the smell wafted down the table, causing heads to turn. Faces morphed from curiosity to pure disgust. The tension could be felt before anyone had a chance to say anything. Suddenly someone yelled, “Ewww!!! Todd’s gross! Look what he’s eating!” The tabling erupted into laughter with kids all too eager to comment on the ‘gross’ sandwich. Even some of the teachers and aids had difficulty hiding their disgust, though it was clear some were not trying too hard. Too nervous to intervene (I was five!), I watched Todd’s face turn scarlet and slowly put his sandwich back into his lunch bag. In that moment, I vowed to never bring an egg salad sandwich to school.
I must have really confused my mum when I asked her not to pack egg salad in my lunch. She knew I loved it, but I remember telling her it was disgusting and I hated it. I didn’t really hate it, but it was easier to join the masses and pretend than to face the ridicule of twenty-five five year olds. I told Mum a peanut butter sandwich would do just fine for me. I don’t hate peanut butter. In fact, I love it almost as much as egg salad. I told myself I was happy. At times, I even went as far as telling myself I was content.
I lived with this throughout my school years. Even in high school when whispers of people liking egg salad turned to them openly bringing the sandwich for lunch, I continued to keep my head low. I enjoyed the delicacy at home, but to bring it to school was too much for me. The fear of being taunted and mistreated paralyzed me from being as brave as my following egg lovers. The irony was not lost on me. I could lead a classroom discussion, was unafraid to start a fight with a bully, and had several people tell me they wished for my confidence. I would simply smile and thank them, wishing I had the confidence they thought I did. If they actually saw how chicken-shit scared I was at times, perhaps they would have rethought their wish. But the bravery of others—those who proudly waited in the “Soup n’ Sandwich” line for their egg salad proving they would not be frightened by others—gave me the courage to publicly love egg salad again.
Despite how many peanut butter sandwiches I ate, my love for egg salad had never diminished but had been a private affair. A secret love I kept to myself, though I’m sure others could have guessed. Once I left for college and was surrounded by new people who knew little about me, I realized I could be anyone. I could be exactly who I was. With this realization, I began to have egg salad anytime I wanted and as often as I liked. I began to try different variations- with lettuce and tomatoes (very good), cheese (not so good), or pickles (in moderation). It was like a new world had opened up to me. I was so happy and truly, truly content.
Don’t let me fool you! Occasionally, a small voice will call my sandwich disgusting or tell me I’m gross. The difference between my past and my present is now I tell that voice to shut up. If that voice has a body attached to it, I walk away. I try to surround myself with people who accept my love for egg salad. To be clear, this is not to say all of my friends love egg salad. Some of them, like me, have always loved it, others realized later on. Some have tried it and loved it, whereas others tried it and it wasn’t their thing. The important part is everyone is welcomed at the lunch table. Everyone and their sandwich is accepted.
Julia Child once said, “There is little in life that could not benefit from a little love, a little time, and a stick of butter.” Perhaps in this case it’s some egg salad.
A recent video (below) began circulating around the internet featuring the 23 ways African Americans have been killed by the police. Celebrities like Beyonce, Rihanna, Chance The Rapper, Zoe Kravitz, and Alicia Keys are featured in the video, which aims to address the growing police brutality against minority populations (especially blacks).
I think it is important for every American to watch this video and understand the violence affecting the black community, as well as other minorities. Unarmed black men are killed by the police in the U.S. at a disproportionate rate, especially when compared to whites and other minorities. It is time we stand against institutionalized racism and demand criminal justice reforms to ensure the phrase “all lives matter” is truly enforced.
Regardless of where you stand on the #BlackLivesMatter / #BlueLivesMatter divide, we can all agree that the tension between law enforcement and civilians is unacceptable. We need to work to ensure every life is kept safe, whether that life belongs to a black man, a Hispanic woman, or a police officer.