As I wait to get my hair cut very short, I am reminded of the various hairstyles I have done over my life. It’s strange and comforting to me that appearance is wrapped up tightly with self worth, with experience, with time. My mother is a hair stylist and when I was very young she dyed my hair purple before, I think, anyone in my county. It didn’t sit well with my small town. I was teased by some, congratulated by others. Harassed often. Some truck drove by me twice and “egged” me for my purple hair. Being small town folks, they called me hippie, even though punk would have been more appropriate.
As many know, I change my hair in times of emotional stress. It’s common, I think. Often, my mother, indulgent but wise, advised me to wait. “Don’t cut your hair today. Wait a day, wait two. Sleep on it.” And often, she was right. I have let my emotions encourage my decision-making much of my life.
I had pixie haircuts after I was greatly injured in college. Injured is my nice way of saying sexually abused. I chopped it short, bleached it blonde, dyed it pink, shaved it for a while. I wanted change from my long flowing locks that made me feel young. My long hair was my high school beauty and made me feel attractive. In college I wanted strength and independence from that need to be beautiful.
Now I am 36, a mother, a wife. I am more settled in my ways. Discussing my need for change again, my friend and I discussed “wash and go” hairstyles. I want easy fashion, I want easy beauty.
What I really want is to not care if I am beautiful. What I really want is to feel beautiful in any fashion, with any hairstyle.
It’s not that I don’t feel appreciated. My husband and friends are very complimentary. But I am uneasy in my own skin, my own hair. As long as I can remember I have wanted curly hair, really curly and thick and full and deep red. Think Nicole Kidman with Melanie Griffith style. Relaxed and messy and gorgeous. What I have is medium golden brown fairly fine, fairly flat, with “flounce” to it. Meaning, I think, both bouncy and feathery.
Yesterday I did get a haircut, but I didn’t like it. So I am sitting and waiting for a do-over. I feel like a knock off version of Beiber or Miley Cyrus or even Han Solo. Michael J Fox in the 80’s. It doesn’t sit well with me. So I am back and waiting. “Edgy” I think, “manic pixie dream girl” I think. Angelina Jolie in “Hackers” I think.
But that isn’t really me either.
Once my mother, a professional, told me hair will never represent what I am. It’s not meant to be an advertisement for my soul.
But my heart disagrees when I look in the mirror. I want solace in my reflection. I want peace and beauty.
So I have cut my hair, and have attempted to style it “just like” the amazing beautician. I am half way there. Style takes practice and, I think, flexibility. I can’t reach the back of my head! I purchased the spray and wax and I already owned a much ignored hairdryer. So I have been trying.
But beauty isn’t about effort. It’s not about trying.
If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, then it only matters to those who look at me.
Well, I look at me. Maybe all too often. Maybe this is navel gazing and I will never be a paragon of self acceptance.
Maybe that is the answer though. Beauty, I think, at this moment, is about acceptance. And the man who cut my hair taught me a great deal about acceptance through style. Not really what I had expected to learn from a stranger who touched my hair and made me feel sexy and beautiful and attractive. He spent some time trimming my locks, but mostly, he spent time teaching me how to literally, dry my hair. Follow the growth pattern, it your hair is feathery, blow it out. Enhance the feathers. Add volume add texture and don’t wash it very often. If I want style, then I need to style it.
So I am taking time to myself, putting my face to the mirror, and enjoying my impersonation of others. I can’t mock what I want to be. Or, I shouldn’t, at the very least.
Accept that you are beautiful. And back to my sentiment of the year:
Start where you are
Use what you have
Do what you can
I think this may end up being more of a life motto than a year’s theme. My mother likes my hair, though she may have been confused as to why I didn’t ask her to fix it. Graciously, she understood my need to fix my appearance instantly. I have never been one to wait. So readers, if you are still here after my verbose expansion, take away that if you don’t already, don’t just accept your hair’s natural tendencies, exploit them into beauty. Flouncy or Bouncy, Straight or Fine, do what you can with what you have. And accept that you are beautiful.
PS: Now if I just get highlights…