Writing from the Columbia River Basin

The Smith In My Hair

The Smith In My Hair

For someone else I'll write about this trip for the trout and for someone else I'll write about that (damn) headwater copper mine. Life is so busy I'm bailing on friends and spending my one hour of free time a day in bed with a beer and the Oprah magazine (I'm not saying that this is sustainable or not my fault or we should be martyrs to our work but that's where I'm at until a few projects are wrapped up and it's okay).

I don't have much time but what I want to write about here... is my hair.

This Smith trip was, for the majority of the time, really effin' cold. Like 'catch a trout then put your hands in your armpits or do jumping jacks on shore for five minutes' cold. Behind catching fish, my priorities were 1) stay dry 2) stay warm 3) eat something other than sour patch kids. Each morning as we scrambled from the warmth of our sleeping bag into our layers, I watched Casey get ready. Beanie. Coat. Go time.

I cut my hair into a bob earlier this winter in an attempt to appear 25 years old rather than 15 in professional settings. Worth it - but I miss easy braids on these cold mornings. As Casey heads out to breakfast, I'm left trying to pig tail or pony tail or mini braid my wavy hair into something that will fit under a hat but also look cute.

Yeah fine, you got me. I give a shit what my hair looks like in outdoor photos. I resent it. Casey doesn't obsess how his hair looks. He obsesses over if we should tie on the tungsten bead san juan or the jelly rope one. He doesn't look bitchy if he doesn't smile in his fish photos, he looks proud.

I get it. I could not take photos. I could choose not to give a shit. But I'm also not deaf to this industry's landscape. I see the women that make it in this world. Looks aren't all you need but they don't hurt either. I want photos I can use to pitch my ideas and projects - often to male editors and creative directors. In twenty years I want mandatory fly fishing hairography to seem as ridiculous as female park rangers in skirts. Do I create change by not giving a shit now or by playing by the rules and changing them from the inside?

This is what I'm thinking about while my nymph rig drifts down a run.

But also.

Is anyone else noticing this movement by some of our outdoor industry leaders? Orvis pushing female leadership in fly fishing, Outside stating, "We Hear You, Ladies", REI saying "Let's make outside the largest level playing field on earth". I might resent Casey for his easy morning hair routine but he looks at me and this new media landscape and thinks Woah, you've got every opportunity in the world right now.

For the first time... ever? I'm looking at major home pages that reflect stories I care about and see myself in. I don't have to get my outdoor media from the guys and find my female experiences in city girl blogs like The Everygirl or the Oprah magazine that don't quite fit me. It's all in one place.

Is this what it feels like to be a man?! I find myself wondering. Maybe, if it's a female editor reading, how my hair whimsically falls from under my trucker hat doesn't matter so much after all.

When I recently asked a man I respect for feedback on this seven-year-old Emerald Lens blog he said, more fly fishing and adventure, less politics and feminism.

I say - that's what you receive from me in every other space. This is a journal, not a brand. And today, the hair on my head and the women behind words is what's on my mind.