Have you ever done something really courageous, something you were determined to do, even though it goes against the flow of society, not because of being impulsive or wanting to be cool, but because you alone were drawn to it, despite how drastic and outlandish others might have felt it to be?
If you have done something like that, did it turn out well?
My Long Hair Love Affair
For most of my life, my hair has been medium-to-long(ish) length, and I’ve always had hair envy for women with long, lustrous locks. I can remember my grandma’s words when I was younger, that men love beautiful long hair and I should brush my hair 100 times every night so that it would be shiny and tangle-free to attract suitors one day. If I’m being totally honest, my long hair was my symbol of beauty. If my hair was long and styled well, I felt beautiful. On the days when my hair was unmanageable, or I chose to just throw it up in a ponytail, I felt less beautiful…or even plain.
So my self-image has been tied to the length of my hair for most of my life. To cut it would be to sever that which makes me attractive, alluring, and accepted.
On top of that, I just never felt I was suited to short hair. My face has always been on the round side, and I thought cutting my long hair off would accentuate the roundness of my face. I thought a short ‘do like a pixie cut was for women with strong facial features, like a well-defined jawline; and I could never be beautiful enough, or feminine enough, if I cut my hair off.
Despite my long-term relationship with the length of my hair, I fell in love with the pixie cut in high school, when I first saw Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. Audrey is, undoubtedly, an iconic beauty for the ages; and when my grandmother first introduced me to the film, I immediately was drawn to the transformation her character goes through, from the young, infatuated schoolgirl to the attractive woman who went to culinary school in Paris.
If you’ve seen the film, you know that part of her makeover involves cutting her hair: when she returns from Paris, she’s exchanged her youthful ponytail for the sophisticated pixie cut that Audrey Hepburn is known for. Despite my personal prejudices about long hair as a symbol of a woman’s femininity and beauty, Audrey’s haircut enhanced and accentuated her beauty.
I’ve been pining for a pixie ever since.
10 Years Later…Why I Really Kissed My Long Hair Goodbye
Although I fell in love with Audrey’s style in high school, it’s taken me over a decade to act on my desire. My attachment to my long hair as my symbol of beauty was deeply rooted, and my fears and insecurities buried my desire for short hair deep within.
So what changed?
First, I became a mother. I know it’s cliche, but short hair is really practical when you’ve got an infant, especially one whose plaything of choice is your hair. Most days, I don’t have the time or patience to tame my wild, thick mane of coarse hair. I found myself putting my hair up most days of the week. My short hair requires me to put some effort into styling it each day, but the amount of time it takes to do so is fractional compared to the time I had to invest to style my long hair. As a result, I actually feel more feminine than I did with my long hair.
Second, I realized I had an unhealthy attachment to my long hair. When I really thought about cutting my hair off, and I had to face the insecurities within me, I realized I was holding on to something out of fear.
I was hiding behind the beauty I associated with my hair, instead of highlighting the true beauty in my other features.
My hair was a shield, and I didn’t like that. So cutting my hair became an exercise in detachment. My long hair was no longer serving me, and it had worn out it’s welcome.
How Cutting My Hair Became A Spiritual Experience
The unhealthy attachment I felt to my hair reminds me of how often we hold on to things out of comfort, insecurity, fear, or a host of other reasons that are irrational or unnecessary. We all have those things in our lives– relationships, habits, behaviors–that we refuse to sever, even though letting go of them might be the best thing we’ve ever done. What if God has something great in store for us that we are missing out on because we refuse to let go of the comfortable? What if He asks us to give up the ordinary, in exchange for the extraordinary?
What is God calling you to give up, in order to gain so much more? Sometimes the best decisions are the most terrifying. Won’t you trust him?
Grace and peace to you.