“It’s just hair,” she whispers to herself on repeat. “It’s just hair,” her voice shakes with every falling strand onto her bathroom floor, dusting past her shoulders, dull scissors in one hand and the other white-knuckled grasping the counter. She’s trying to maintain her composure. She is healthy, she has people who love her, she does not need to cry over something as trivial as the length of her hair. The people she loves will still love her the same, she can still do good for the world, she can still be kind and fun and God-loving and she can still be exactly the same person she was ten minutes ago, just without a waterfall of curls that cascade down her back and over her face. She should not care so much about something so small, but there are annoying, pressing thoughts tangling around her rational mind. What else will she have to hide behind? What else will make her pretty? What else will be her security blanket?
That was dramatic.
You never know what you have until it’s gone, right? Someone please go back in time and tell that to me before I had to become the girl cutting off her own hair in her bathroom at midnight.
Long story short, I tried to dye my hair blonde temporarily. It didn’t work out, I went to a salon to have it fixed and the guy completely fried my hair. I mean fried. Dead. A tangled mess on top of my head that I couldn’t run my fingers through without the risk of never getting them back out. There was no coming back from the rat’s nest that my once Rapunzel-esque hair resembled, so I cut it off.
The hair I’d spent over a year growing out; the hair I swore I would never cut short again (actually begged everyone I know to yell at me if I ever even considered it); the hair that had always been my security blanket and the reason I was incredibly insecure circa 2015 because, for some reason, I decided to chop it all off for no good reason whatsoever: gone. Again. Except this time it’s worse because the hair that I have left doesn’t curl the way it used to and it has the texture of something resembling hay because, like I said, it’s completely fried.
Do I sound annoyed? Upset? Like maybe that little dramatic introduction maybe wasn’t dramatized at all and I actually did have (at least) one meltdown over something as trivial as my hair? Yeah, let’s move on.
I felt like my femininity was taken away the second I looked in the mirror to see the damage that had been done. Scratch that, I feel like my femininity has been taken away. I’m feeling it right now, hardcore. In a culture that glorifies being youthful and “sexy” all the time, I simultaneously feel like I’ve unknowingly joined both the Golden Girl’s and Boy Meets World casts with this short curlyish ‘fro thing on top of my head.
And that’s not to say that short hair isn’t pretty. It just isn’t me. It really isn’t me.
Who am I without my long hair that everyone used to rave about? Was my attractiveness ever about me at all, or did my long curls give me some sort of “pretty girl” illusion? I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m happier now that I have this semi-curly/very fried bowl cut, but I am working on at least calling it a blessing in disguise. I swear, I’m trying. Hear me out.
I placed far too much of my worth in my appearance; I wanted to be conventionally attractive so I ate less, worked out more, and kept my hair long. It worked. I received more positive attention, my friends started referring to me as “hot” (which, of course, I laughed at even though secretly it made me feel really good considering my previous nicknames tended to revolve around the word “chubby”), and my family would always comment on how great I looked. I was skinny and strong and had long curly locks, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. I’d also be lying if I said I don’t miss it.
But while compliments and feeling good about myself were all nice and wonderful, my purpose is greater than fitting into an image of being someone simply pretty. I never wanted to be somebody with no substance beyond my outward self. I never had a lot of respect for women/men who only focus on their outward appearance (though attention to your outward appearance is great as long as it’s not an unhealthy obsession), but that is the way our culture unfortunately is and like so many of us, I bought into it. I bought into it so much that I let something like a mistake involving my hair make me stay home more often and put on a baseball cap right as I crawled out of bed today because I didn’t even want to have to look at it myself.
Hence, me walking into a beauty supply store this evening to look for hair extensions only to walk out after seeing the price for said hair extensions and crying in the car the whole way home. Most problems generally have at least some sort of solution, even if it isn’t ideal, but this does not. All I can do is wait God-knows-how-long for it to grow out. It’s a good thing I like hats.
So it’s more than a haircut. It should be freedom from my own rigid ideas of beauty and femininity; it should be joy in the fact that I was forced to look inward and figure out what really matters and realize why it is that I care so much. However, disappointingly enough, it’s feeling a lot less philosophical in practice.
Although there were a couple times when I thought, “I look like Eleven from Stranger Things,” and that made me feel a little better for a while, what’s really been going through my mind most of the time is generally something along the lines of “I look ridiculous,” “My hair was my one redeeming quality,” “My boyfriend is coming back from winter break in 18 days and I don’t know how to magically get more hair by then because I don’t want anyone, let alone him, to see me like this,” and “My days of being impulsive when it comes to my appearance are over.” (That last one is actually a positive. It’s about time I learned my lesson.)
Did you want inspirational B.S. or honesty? Because if I’m being totally unabashedly honest, I feel like garbage and it’s constantly on my mind and I wish my brain would shut up about this hair thing already, but it’s still bugging me.
However, and here is where I (finally) get to the point of this whole post, I will at some point let the lesson of this situation sink in. Sometimes you need time. I don’t know if that’s always the right thing to do, but if it helps you to not dwell on things in the long run, take a little time to wallow. Not too much; just enough to let the lesson resonate when you are ready for it. Make the best of any situation of course and don’t sweat the small stuff, but at the end of the day nothing is as black and white as it seems. Emotions are a thing and sometimes you need to feel them in order to let a lesson really hit you.
To an outsider, I probably seem like a silly girl with nothing better to do than to think about her hair. Which is fair. You, Mr. Outsider, sound like you have not experienced self loathing. Go you; that’s great. However to me, I see my sense of comfort in myself being taken away and I’m figuring out how to not let it feel so dramatic.
I swear, I’m overall a pretty calm person, just not about this one thing. We all have something that sets us off, and this is my thing. You’re welcome for that useless knowledge about my life.
Here’s what I know I should (and swear I will) inevitably learn:
- Don’t be impulsive. That whole “patience is a virtue” concept is actually really important. Also, do your research. (“Whoever is patient has great understanding…” Proverbs 14:29)
- Your worth cannot be placed in trivial things like hair or makeup or perfecting your body. You can enjoy these things, but they are not what make you who you are. You are you for a reason and you were made by God as you are, so chill out. Take a breather. You’re fine. There are more important things going on. (“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” Proverbs 31:30)
- You can’t let other people dictate how you feel.
- This means: stop comparing. Yes the woman in the aisle next to you at the grocery store is pretty and yes she has beautiful hair or she has perfect skin or a not-crooked smile, but she isn’t you. She will never have all the qualities that make up who you are. Jealousy isn’t healthy. Or necessary. (“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works…” Psalm 139:14)
- This also means: stop being so afraid of what other people are going to think of you. There are few times when this should be a genuine concern, like if you are not being a good influence on others or if you’re actively being a harmful representer of God. But when you run into that one guy you liked in middle school that didn’t like you back while you’re wearing sweatpants and no makeup, or when your too-blunt friend says that you need to lose a few pounds…brush those things off. Why would you let anyone else’s opinions (or assumed opinions) change your own? Why would you allow anyone to make you believe that you aren’t good enough? Especially when the same creator of the universe, the creator of your favorite flowers and every single beautiful thing on the earth, of all the people who care about you, also created you. (“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5)
- Move on, roll with the punches, learn your lesson, and get over yourself. (Too harsh? Whoops.) It’s not as big of a deal as you’re making it seem. You don’t need to take yourself so seriously. Life is full of goodness and joy and it’s not worth being upset long-term because that kind of attitude does nothing but cause yourself and those around you harm. (“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13)
So, hopefully, I’ve made my point and this doesn’t come across as me crying to my blogging friends about my dumb hair woes. It’s not about me; it’s about self-awareness and realizing what really matters and, at the end of the day, the things we worry about usually aren’t worth worrying about. “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill,” as they say (no I don’t know who “they” are; please don’t ask me). At the end of the day, there are things greater than you going on in the world and whether it’s getting upset over someone cutting you off in traffic or worrying about failing a test or, God forbid, you have to cut off all your hair, feel whatever it is you need to feel for a minute and move on. Learn from it, take whatever you are supposed to take from it, talk to God about it, whatever you need to do, but don’t dwell on things that don’t really matter in the long run.