Looks are not what they seem.

Saturday 11:30am.

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.


Monday, 4:00pm

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…


12 thoughts on “Looks are not what they seem.

  1. What a fabulous post! I”m so sorry to hear about what happened in college to precipitate your last pixie cut… but I’m glad you’ve gone back to that style to make it part of your happy 30’s! I think the best part about a new haircut is that it suddenly frees your brain up to accept other ways you could play with your appearance. You are rocking the dark lipstick with confidence, and that’s awesome! I almost always stop and buy makeup on the way home after a haircut, because suddenly I see my face in a new way and want to highlight something differently.
    Feeling beautiful is SUCH a long saga… I’m pushing towards that goal too, slowly. Thanks for telling the story of your hair! 🙂

    • Aw thanks Gillian. I love the idea of new hair+new makeup. I am learning the magic of lipstick I think first from KnitBee and then Karen Lepage and I just had to try it myself. Besame just smells and feels so nice!

  2. I just dyed my ends red (now fading to pink) before my 40th. I think to feel more exciting than I really feel at present moment. A back injury means I hadn’t been able to dance for a few months. I’m missing it and realizing how tied to physical movement my sense of self is. Thank you for this.

  3. huh. all my life i wanted curly red hair. my 6 weeks older than i am cousin has gorgeous curly red hair. she wanted brown straight hair-like mine. when we were 4 or 5, we cut each other’s hair and taped it to our heads. we loved our new looks, our moms not so much. 50 years later, she dyes her hair light brown with red highlights. i dye mine bright copper. my hair turned curly after my last child. go figure. AND YOU LOOK WONDERFUL AS A PIXIE.

  4. I’m truly sorry to read about what happened to you in college. This was a beautifully written post and I love your pixie cut. I held onto my long hair for ages but found chopping it off quite liberating in a ‘I’m not apologising for my face or hiding my profile anymore’ way. I love changing my hair, it’s been long, blue, black, red, short, wide, ugly, conservative but I’ve always been the same me. I saw a message on a mirror a while back it said ‘you’re alright’ – they should be on a lot more mirrors!

    • Thank you! It’s so good to know it’s not just me out here, being kinda crazy and feeling kinda guilty but also, correct, in worrying about my appearance. I appreciate the camaraderie! You are alright!

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