I believe, from many life experiences, that God created Woman with a special kind of strength to withstand tragedies, disasters and hardships. From the pain of death to the pain of childbirth, we are resilient little creatures-- Steel Magnolias, if you will.
However, there is one disaster that few women can bear with dignity and grace, and that is the trauma of a bad haircut. And sadly, my friends, that is my cross to bear. One moment, I was engrossed in a fascinating conversation about Thailand (the stylist had lived there for 2yrs), the next thing I knew, I was BALD.
Just before entering into said conversation about Thailand, we had talked about leaving my hair a little longer for summer. "Definitely!" she replied to my desire to be able to pull my hair back during the warm summer months. Then, suddenly, it was all gone. I had become Mary Lou Retton. Forget pulling my hair back-- it was time for solitary confinement.
I was so shocked, I didn't know what to say. What can you say? She was holding scissors-- it's not like she can put it back at that point. The only thing in her power was to take more off... and there wasn't much left to take. "Wow! It's so short!" I said through a tight smile, thanking her and slinking shame-faced out of the salon.
Chris greeted me with the proper husbandly response: You look fine; I love you no matter how you look; it'll grow back; you're always beautiful. I am ashamed to say it, but I couldn't sleep that night. I lie there, feeling my exposed scalp on the pillow, wishing I was pregnant, because I had read somewhere that hair stays in the growth cycle during pregnancy. Growth-- yes, that's what's important here.
Thankfully, the sun also rises, and haircuts are never quite as bad the second day. It's true that my bangs are little more than peach fuzz, and I might be mistaken for Chris in the back... but at least my friends have been able to keep a straight face while talking to me. I even got a compliment from a tattooed, pierced-up punk rock couple who yelled across the crowded waiting area at a pizza parlor that they loved my hair. Funny.
What really surprised me, though (besides the mirror) was the fact that something like a haircut could upset me so much. I would like to think that I am enough of an adult, and secure enough in my identity to keep my cool through a few rough weeks/months of a funky Do.
To be honest, though, insecurities often buzz around my mind-- negative thoughts, like a big, ugly housefly that you can't shoo outside and can't quite ignore. When I am plagued with "The Gollum Voices", I try to ask myself, "Would people really love me more if I weighed 10lbs less, if I didn't look a little old & tired today, if my abs were toned or my hair looked better?"
I know the answer to that question. I know that my Creator, my husband, my friends & family love me as I am. I know that people might notice my imperfections-- they might even judge me for them-- but it doesn't change my worth or value. I know all these things in my mind, but so often, my heart and my head lie miles apart.
In the end, the problem isn't really a bad haircut-- even though I do look a little like a hasidic Jew (minus the beard)-- I know that it will grow back and that it's really not that bad. The problem is something a little deeper, and will never be fixed by losing weight, looking beautiful, or having the perfect exterior.
It is something I am straining to grow in-- to believe about myself and the world around me: the quiet confidence that comes from a place of love & acceptance and feels at home in my own skin. It is a simple, beautiful thing, but it isn't easy. So I keep moving forward in awkward jerks & starts, wanting to grow, but unsure of my progress.
The first step might be to stop complaining about my haircut. Like I said: simple, but not easy.