I was talking with my coach Jessica tonight, and she said she was playing with her new haircut. She went from long to medium length hair. She was putting curls in it to see what it looks like. She texted me a pic, and I told her it looked really sexy! It wasn’t so much the haircut, but it was the way she looked while she was playing with it. She just had this sexy look on her face … and the hair just topped it off. What IS it about our hair?
As a teenager, I hated my hair. It was so hard to control in the balmy, humid Louisiana weather. It’s really curly, and I fought it like crazy trying to tame it into something soft and sweet like the silky strands most of the other girls had. I felt like such a geek brillo pad with my hair that was so wild and uncontrollable. The ugly duckling is what I felt like. And, it was a HUGE part of my insecurity. I finally gave up trying to control it in my late teens. I settled into an accepting relationship with my hair after I saw Barbra Streisand in A Star is Born. My hair was wilder and thicker than hers, but I loved her character, and I felt like I channeled her when I started wearing my hair like that. It gave me a new image.
Jessica said she got her hair cut short because she wanted to embrace her new “Austin” self. “Short hair, to me, is more spontaneous but ‘no-nonsense’, too, ” she said. “I also feel like long hair is romantic and young. I loved it – bouncing behind me when I ran and twirling it in my fingers. I’m not in a romantic place right now and need sort of a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude for finding a job and getting over sh*thead.” Well, there you have it! Of course, there’s a sh*thead involved. For me, the end of a relationship almost always inspires a haircut, a piercing or a new tattoo. I always had to do something to say, “I’m done … and I’m still freaking fabulous!” Hair color works, too. There’s just something about hair that signals a significant internal change in me. The change has already occurred. By the time I got the guts to end the relationship, I was a new person… a different person with different needs. The change in appearance was just an outward manifestation of that change.
Short, Short Hair
I’m letting my hair grow now. It’s interesting because – for the first time in my life – I feel wild and uncontrollable, and I’m not afraid of it. I really am embracing the wildness inside me, and I want to be whatever I am. I guess I’ve always felt a little wild inside, but I felt the need to tame it… to keep it under control … to fit in with what I felt I “should be.” When I cut my hair really short in 1998, I had just moved to Seattle. At that time, I was wearing my hair in a shag. It was the style of the time, and I had to put chemical straighteners in my hair to get it to stay in the style. My journey with my hair has included a lot of chemicals, heat, Aqua Net and brute strength. Straighten … straighten … straighten … and glue it that way so that it doesn’t curl up. Force it into a shape and try to keep it that way. When I moved to Seattle, I had a big problem. It rained all the time. All the work I did on my hair before I left the condo was for naught as soon as I walked out into the sprinkling rain. After about 3 months, I knew I had to do something. My self-image was suffering. I was back to being that brillo pad girl who felt like the ugly duckling. I got it cut short to wear it curly. And … I … hated … it. Too much face and not enough hair made me feel like a boy. I finally got used to it, and, at one point I began to love the freedom of it. I began to love my face and wanted it unadorned. The super short cut made me feel empowered. I stepped into it.
I’ve worn my hair very, very short for 13 years. But, I moved home this year. For some reason, I want my wild, frizzy, curly frock of hair back. It can’t grow fast enough. When I’ve thought of growing my hair out before, I was usually back at the hairdresser in two weeks asking them to “cut it off.” I couldn’t stand it. But, now, I LOVE it. I’m putting pretty headbands in it. I’m running my fingers through the curls. I take a comb and pull it out so it’s big and curly and wild and untamed. I’m stepping into that wild child that I want to be right now in midlife. I don’t know if it’ll last forever, but I have a hankering for my cherub face to peek out from under a mass of curls that God decided was the look I needed. And, he really is the ultimate hairdresser, isn’t He. Maybe this is who He made me to be. Maybe I was always supposed to grow into my curly locks. It just took me a long damn time to do it.
I’ve always loved that saying, When I am old, I will wear purple. It encourages me not going to go quietly into that good night. I’m going to go with all the glitter and gusto that I can muster. I want to age with grace and energy and natural beauty. I want to wear purple. I want to paint my toes ruby red.. and blue … and gold. I want to paint my world brightly with lively friends … and colorful, risky experiences … and worlds of travel. I want to be sexy .. and fun … and daring no matter how old I am, and I believe I can be. I want to see my wild, frizzy, curly hair go gray and twist and turn and tangle up in a silvery crazy mess. I will run my aging, frail fingers through it, and realize I am beautiful because I am what I am, and I finally learned to love it. And … yes, quite possibly … when it’s all said and done … I’ll realize it was all about my hair.
Stepping Into the Jungle on my Head