Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I am not my hair

Warning: This post is very shallow and dramatic. There are also a lot of pictures of me. But if you make it to the end, it may have some redeeming qualities.

Confession: Sometimes I am really, really vain.

Like, checked myself out in a reflective window and fell down a flight of stairs once, vain. (In my defense, it was at my job in London where I climbed four flights of stairs a hundred times of day. Going more than a week without at least tripping would have been statistically impossible.)

One of the things I am most vain about is my hair. I have four different types of shampoos and conditioners, a conditioning mask, serum, and a nice hair dryer. My cabinet is full of ponytail holders, clips, headbands, barrettes, and spin pins. I brush it constantly and obsess over keeping it shiny and smooth. I just love my hair, particularly when it's long. I swear it makes me bolder and more powerful, truly.

For the past 2.5 years I've been growing my hair out. As you may recall, there was the time I donated 10 inches to Pantene Beautiful Lengths in 2008:

But no stranger to changing my style, there was also the time I did this in 2006:

And most recently, there was just a lot of this:

Now, there is just this:

It's all gone. It's hard to show in the photos but it's short, with the majority of it just above my shoulders. It's just an all around crappy and sloppy cutting job, and if I don't arrange it just right it looks like I have a mullet or a rat tail. (But for fear of losing more length, I don't want to have anyone try to fix it.) Oh, and did I mention the salon charged me an extra $10 because of the length of my hair? Well done, salon, well done.

This wasn't me growing it out specifically to donate. This wasn't because I had graduated college and all my friends were gone and the only thing I could control was my hair. This was me stupidly trusting a cheap hair salon and stylist to understand what I meant by "long layers" and "keep as much of the length as possible." To be fair, I did want more of a shape and I did want it lighter for the summer, but that is not what I had in mind.

To quote our dear president, let me be clear, I know all of this to be true: It's just hair! It will grow back! Some people don't have hair or can't have hair! It's just hair!

But because this is my blog and I'm selfish I'm going to keep writing.

As soon as I walked out of the salon I started panicked breathing. A block later at the grocery store I was crying. I cried some more when I talked to my mom and then when I examined it in the mirror. And then I lost sleep over it. No joke, I lost sleep over a haircut! I am not that woman. (Well, I am that woman who loses sleep over things, just not usually hair. So maybe I am sort of that woman.)

It's just hair.

But hair is important! It was power for Samson, convenience for Lady Godiva, and love for Della.

For me, it usually means control. And as you very well know, I'm a control freak. (I've been harping on this but it's been more aggressively infiltrating my life lately.) When my world gets too heavy my ability to control something lessens the weight. I latch on to completing a work assignment, planning a trip, buying the perfect outfit, or, maybe, styling my hair. My world's not especially heavy right now, just a little whirly, and I really did want just a few layers, but there's still a lesson for me to learn and then promptly forget.

No matter how much I plan and think and worry and panic sometimes it's just not going to work out. I can't pick the bits of my hair off that salon floor. I can't control everything. Sometimes there is just nothing I can do. And it really, really sucks.

And it really is just hair; it will grow back.

In conclusion, I'll turn to India.Arie. I first heard this song on Good Morning America in a segment on Robin Roberts losing her hair during her battle with breast cancer. (Perspective much, Bonnie?) It's such a beautiful song and I've been singing it in my head all day today. (My head with all my hair secured in a ponytail that I only let three people see down.)

I am not my hair/I am not this skin/I am just the soul that lives within

(Until it grows out again -- then I am totally my hair. Kidding!)

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