Friday, April 23, 2010

The Big Snip

Ah, the tale of my hair.

This might surprise some who know me, but I was born a blond. Towhead, actually, with wavy white hair typical of those sharing my Norwegian heritage. But as I grew up my Syrian and Cherokee roots took hold and my hair became darker and curlier every year. I still get natural blond highlights in the summer but my days of having golden hair are long gone.

When I was nine my mom cut my hair short. It was supposed to be all the same length but the back sprung up and created this cute 20's style bob. After that cut I decided I wanted long hair, and so since then I have never had it shorter than shoulder length. But this past week she was at it again, chopping off over a foot of hair that I had been faithfully growing out for years. And so for the first time in my adult life I have short hair.

My long curly hair has always been my signature look. People would comment on how beautiful it was, how long and curly, asking if it was natural and saying how much they wished for curly hair like mine. My mom used to spend hundreds of dollars a year on perms and styling to get an approximation of my spirals. For a girl with a weight problem and a host of self-esteem issues, having one thing I could hold on to as a positive about my looks was like a security blanket. Even when I felt ugly or unwanted, I could still hold on to my hair as something desirable about me.

My best friend, who never cut her hair while she was growing up, has donated her hair to Locks of Love a couple of times (boy did she get me good the first time, not telling me beforehand and causing me to practically fall over in shock when I saw her). Every time I thought to myself, oh, that is a good cause, but I would never do that. I couldn't have short hair. It's not me. I need my long hair. Even as I started to learn to love myself and my body, I still clung to my hair as my backup plan.

But it's amazing what marriage does. Or at least, marriage to a man who is constantly appreciating you and your body. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then Jer makes me the most gorgeous creature in the world every time his eyes smile at me. And he expresses it in so many ways-his words, his touch, his actions-so I've started to believe more and more that I am desirable. He loves my hair, but he was the one who gave me the freedom to cut it.

(Side note: apparently when Jer was growing up he had a little crush on Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, best known for her turn as Maid Marian in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, where she rocked the big and curly hair to the extreme. Additionally, he liked the look of Andie MacDowell, who also rocks the curly locks. His mother has told me this, and how she was sure that he would end up with a girl who had long, curly hair like mine. I wonder if this is similar to my obsession in early life with guys who had names that started with J...)

Jer didn't suggest the donation, just a trim of a few inches so it would be lighter for summertime, but when I shared the Locks of Love idea he fully supported it. While he was shocked at the reality of how short it ended up being-no one really understands how curly hair springs up when you cut it, except for my mother-he has decided that he likes it and the short 'do is a fun change. So despite my lifetime of believing short hair would be a disaster for me, I find that I am still beautiful and loved, even with hair that doesn't make strangers ooh and ahh and follow me down the street. Who needs 'em-I've got my man.

1 comment:

Shannalee said...

Ha! Well I definitely relate to the feelings that come with chopping it all off--the shock, the wondering what other people will say, the hoping you'll still look like YOU. Long hair is such an identity-creator, maybe just because it's so easily noticeable?

Anyway, kudos to your husband for his loving response and for giving you the freedom to cut it and know he'll still find you beautiful. :) That's sweet.