" I am not my hair..." - India Arie
On Thursday June 14th at around 4 pm Eastern Standard time I made the decision to cut ``it`` all off. At the time, the choice was simply in reference to my hair and I had no idea at the time how deeply this simple act of vanity would affect me.
Let’s rewind a bit, shall we?
Those who follow my blog regularly know that I’ve been going through a lot of changes lately. During this time, I`ve learned a lot about stress (such a cunning thing!). Feeling fine and being fine aren’t synonymous and it turns out that the human body has no problem making this distinction. During times of anxiety or chaos some people may gain weight, others may lose it. Stress may surface as a breakout of hives all over the skin or it can present itself as an adverse reaction to the simple act of chemical hair processing.
(I’ll let you guess which one of these scenarios applied to me…)
At first it just seemed like my hair was having a hissy fit. I was initially up in arms about it but I was ultimately okay with a bit of dryness atop of my head. “This too shall pass” was all I would think. But then I came to notice that as my anxiety increased so did the crazy state of my hair. Over the following weeks, the level of my stress was clearly depicted by the condition of my hair. There was a war waging in my crown of glory and I didn’t know what to do.
Then along came a whisper that said, “Let it go, Rosie”.
I promptly responded, “Hell no!”
My hysteria went from a tolerable Level One to a screeching Level Ten.
For days the whisper continued, my resistance persisted and my hair breakage increased. What was a girl to do?
On the day of the big cut, I begrudgingly went through old pictures. I was mourning and paying homage to the girl that I was. The images that I scrolled through were very telling. As a little girl I used to run around the house with a towel on my head pretending to rival the bouncy, behavin' hair of my lighter skinned peers (let's chalk that one up to childhood innocence, okay?). I sported Jheri curls in the 80’s a la Micheal Jackson and I rocked extensions and braids for more years than I can count. I boldly carried off the curly ‘fro weave and later moved to straight, relaxed hair because motherhood required what I had interpreted as ``low key maintenance``. Along with each style came a superhero-like persona. I was seemingly a woman for every season but I never truly felt like myself. My own hair just wasn't enough for me.
This brings me back to Thursday June 14th….
I decided to conduct an online search of everything that I could about women and short hair. As I scrolled through images of Grace Jones, Sinead O’Conner, Demi Moore (as G.I. Jane), and Solange Knowles my anxiety about conceding to change increased. The people who hated their look represented the majority; they acted as a jury and handed down their abrasive opinions like life sentences. The aforementioned beautiful women were labelled as ugly, masculine, lesbians and fashion no-no’s. Many posts in our cyber-world arrogantly advocated how much men dislike women with uber-short hair. Those sticks and stones sure can make you wince but can they in fact break you? I was dumbfounded by how conflicted this made me feel and it was then that I gave serious thought to what matters to me and why it did.
I was humbled to realize that for a long time I had been swimming in a shallow pool of public opinion simply because I was terrified to dive into the deep end of who I really am. If something as superficial as my hair determined how I faced the world, there was a bigger problem.
I made the decision to get truly naked with myself.
I chose to peel off some layers.
After the scissors were put away and the clipper was shut off, I opened my eyes. I looked at the ground and quietly observed all of the hair that lay at my feet. I silently lifted took a deep breath and looked in the mirror to see what remained.
I wanted to cry.
I hadn’t felt more beautiful or liberated in a long time. More than that, I finally recognized the woman in front of me. The haircut didn’t fix my life but what it represented certainly helped it along. Letting go of what didn`t matter was like a huge weight off of my shoulders and I knew that this philosophy would be relevant to many different areas of my journey going forward.
I hopped out of the chair and quickly put away the hat that I had planned to wear home. I strutted (yep, that’s right, I STRUTTED) out of the salon and let the sun kiss my head. I was elevated by the warmth of the feeling. When I got home, my son ran into my arms smiling big and offering up a bunch of kisses. He didn’t look at me differently at all. To him I am ``Mommy`` and that`s all that he needs.
I hope that you woke up feeling like your own brand of beautiful today. You can use someone else’s formula to try and feel it but I encourage you to create your own recipe for guaranteed results. Take time to experiment with the things that make you feel good and if it’s right for you, take a risk.
Don’t ask for permission.
Don’t get wrapped up in someone else’s definition.
Don’t waste anymore tears on expectations.
Don’t seek acceptance from anyone regarding your worth because all that they can offer you is their perception.
Validation will always elude you if you’re looking outside of yourself.
Do what’s right for you.
Break the mould.
Clear the debris and revel in what lies underneath.
Share your findings with someone else if you're so inclined.
When it comes to beautiful, your opinion is the only one that matters. Positive feedback is just a sweet and loving bonus.
Until next time, friends.....
(Note to regular readers: This month has been pretty hectic. I plan on resuming my posts on adventures in health and wellness once the proverbial ``dust has settled``. Thank you for your patience!)
I'm loving this India Arie anthem...