I swore to myself I’d do it at some point.
But then I’d get bored. Or split ends. And give up on my goal.
But this year. This was the year. I put it on my bucket list and everything.
My brother did it. My friend’s husband did it.
There were no more excuses.
I started growing my hair out two years ago for our wedding.
I had chopped it off a few months before we got engaged, as a sign of independence and clamoring for control when so much of life seemed up in the air. (Have you been there?)
Then Mikael and I fell in love, and started planning our wedding in a tight three-month timeline. So I let it grow, and after the I do’s I let it keep growing.
And growing. And growing.
The goal was to donate it to Locks of Love. That was the plan, the whole intent behind all that growth.
But somewhere along the way I got a little more attached than I’d intended. (Note to Self: Do not puppysit. Or test drive sports cars. Much less… )
I got a few trims to keep my hair healthy-ish, but mostly I just let it be.
I have always dreamed of beautiful, wavy hair, but aside from the young years with ridiculous 80’s perms, mine has been stick straight.
And honestly, most days of the last two years my poor, forgotten hair found itself shoved in a bun. A sloppy, simple bun.
I didn’t blowdry or flat iron it most days.
And only curled it a few times.
Still, I liked my hair, more than I should have maybe. And I think it’s ‘cause it made me feel strangely safe.
Though I knew, realistically, a 29-year old woman can’t hide behind a curtain of bangs, I felt like I could. The option was there. And I liked that feeling.
Knowing I had a way to hide if I had a bad skin day, or a fat day, or a … (isn’t it amazing how many ways a woman can feel bad about herself?). No matter what happened to my weight, or my pores, I could still be the girl with the long pretty hair (nevermind that it was always in a ponytail).
There was the option of having really pretty, long locks. The ability to “copy” any celebrity look, or to attempt it at least. And I liked that.
Stupid as it sounds to admit aloud (or in print) I relied a lot on my hair to feel feminine, some days, many days, I saw it as my only potential at being pretty.
Still, after spending months of checking my mane’s progress with a ruler, and swearing to myself I’d chop it off when it got long enough, I discovered a week ago that I’d reached the requirement.
I couldn’t turn my back on children suffering severe medical treatments. Surely there’s no better motivation to do anything.
And so, I set aside my fears of looking like a boy without my hipster-ish bun. Or worse, a frazzled soccer mom if I got a bad haircut. And I asked my mother-in-law, a semi-retired hairdresser, to give me an angled bob.
I don’t think any woman wants to admit to herself, or others, just how deep her insecurities run. Or how superficial she really can be.
I’m sure there are women that don’t struggle with this by the way. I am just NOT one of them.
Nope. I’m the kind of girl that had to fight tears this weekend, as I listened to two years worth of growth being chopped off my head (wow, dramatic!). The kind that made awkward small talk to distract from the sound of scissors hacking away at the one thing I’d relied most on, for my confidence, weak as it was.
I admitted last week that I struggle with feeling good about myself because of the ways my looks differ from the girls in magazines. And because I don’t wear the same size pants as I did in high school.
I struggle to feel confident in myself, as I am. Just as I am, without “ifs” “ands” or wishing for a smaller “butt.”
And I struggle with accepting any progress towards being happier and healthier as something worth celebrating, when so often I feel drastic measures are the only ones worth taking.
Why lose five pounds healthfully when you could lose fifty by crash dieting? (Ever had those damaging kind of thoughts?)
I shared that because I think I’m not alone in those feelings. And because I think being honest about them is one of the first steps in getting past them.
I don’t want to make excuses for living an unhealthy lifestyle.
What I want is to give myself permission to work towards becoming my best self, not trying to warp myself into someone else.
I want to be happy in the skin I’m in, not wish it was Jennifer Aniston’s. Ya know?
But not wanting to face the insecurities Saturday I tried to convince myself it wasn’t that big of deal.
“It’s just a haircut,” I told myself, while brown locks fell to the floor.
“It’s just hair,” I said, when I looked at the braided ponytail (creepy, I know!) she’d set aside.
But trying to minimize my feelings hasn’t served me all that well in the past.
I might think something sounds silly or stupid, usually ‘cause I feel like no one will understand, but that doesn’t mean I am stupid for feeling that way.
It doesn’t mean it’s wrong to feel that way.
And that’s something I need to learn, accept. Which might explain why I’m here, writing a ridiculously long post about getting a haircut.
Knowing it’s just hair doesn’t mean I can’t also feel overwhelmed at what was/is a pretty drastic change (to my appearance at least).
Knowing that it will grow back doesn’t mean I can’t feel a little sad to let it go.
Knowing… and feeling… are not the same thing.
And I’m learning that’s not a bad thing.
I can feel the way I do, without letting my intellectual side bully me into believing I’m an idiot for getting emotional.
Just like I can be happy with a decision I’ve made, but a little sad too.
It feels good to have a fresh start with my mane, and better to know that it's an outward sign of some inward progress.
Yes, sometimes growing up feels painfully slow, kinda like trying to grow out one's hair. But ultimately every little bit counts. That's something I'm reminded of as I play with my new pixie-like locks.
It's funny, really, how much a haircut I tried to minimize really has helped me feel happier and healthier overall.
Probably because bravery, in any shape or form, including a bob, is something worth celebrating.
*For those interested in donating hair, or helping financially, I've linked the above picture to the Locks of Love site. You'll find lots of ways to get involved, including how to nominate a kid in need, or to purchase a sweet teddy bear that benefits the cause.
And thanks to the many friends who inspired me to get involved with their own generous donations. I'm so glad y'all finally spurred me to take part in such a neat program.
*And last little plug, I would have never written this, much less "published" it if it weren't for a wonderful community of writers forming, who are encouraging women to embrace their own beauty and to love themselves.
Culture tells us to put a brave face on. To blend in with the crowd. To torture ourselves for perceived flaws. To paint over our insecurities.
So it's nice to hear a growing voice of intelligent women explaining why we shouldn't listen to those critics. Please check out what they have to say.