It’s been almost a week since I cut my long hair short.
(Cutting my hair is a part of my Pursuit of Discomfort, most of which I’m not sharing on this blog because it’s too personal, but hair is so public anyway, I decided to share this piece. The spiritual/emotional component of cutting hair is something that strikes a deep chord with many of us women).
If you would have asked me five days ago how I felt about chopping off 12 inches of patiently grown out hair, I would have told you, “Awesome!!!”
Now, though, the reality of my ponytail-less future is sinking in. Much of the magic of the short-do washed away when I finally washed my hair (took me 4 days). The stylist’s stylish coif is gone and I’m kinda panicking. What do I do now???
I don’t know. But I do know this is the reason why I cut my hair. Sitting with this discomfort is where the real work begins. Hair is not just physical. Hair is emotional and spiritual. So here I go trying to understand beauty, and womanhood, and a new kind of femininity and courage.
Sex Appeal vs Joy Appeal
When womanhood means sex appeal long hair is safest– because long hair has been the preferred hairstyle for women by men throughout history. (According to research done by the Evolutionary Psychology Research Group of Pecs, women with longer hairstyles received higher attractiveness ratings by men than those with shorter hair.*)
But when womanhood means joy appeal a world of fresh, new and fun possibilities open up–because a woman is no longer looking for her self-worth and value to be validated by a man or by cultural norms.
For most of my life as a woman I was after sex appeal, (starting way before I even got my period). Now, in my thirties, I’m re-evaluating things and I’m finding that while I love being a sexy woman for my husband, sex appeal is not what defines me or fulfills me.
I see now how striving after sex appeal and cultural idols of beauty lead me straight into despair and depressions– as well as sins of vanity and pride. Perhaps if a new kind of femininity could be grounded in joy-appeal instead sex-appeal the bathroom mirror wouldn’t have to be such a prison.
From my instagram post:
Last one of the selfies….promise. (Geez three in a row!) Just wanted to end with one where I’m not taking myself so dang seriously. I also wanted to share this with you in case any of you struggle like I do with appearance/wanting to be beautiful but never feeling like you quite measure up: I awoke last night 3am all anxious and nervous about this silly haircut. I realized I had to confess my sin of vanity. Seeing pictures of myself always makes me feel a mix of anger and sadness because I think I should be better (looking) than I am. This is pride. This is sinfulness in all it’s ugliness. So in the quiet of my sleeping house I confessed. I repented. And then I asked The Lord to make haste to help me. This is what we Christians do. I desperately need His help because I’ve long attached beauty to value. How many times have I tried to find my own worthiness in the mirror? How many times have I been disappointed? Though we’d never admit it, most of us really do think good looking people are some how better than not so good looking people. Lord help us! I need a Savior. And last night, in the Word, I found this comfort: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. ” (Isaiah 53:2 NIV) How interesting that the One who breathed Beauty into existence, the One who invented the cosmos and the northern lights, the One who delights in poppies and peonies, the One who is in charge of every glory-filled sunrise and sunset, how interesting that in his wisdom so high above us He deemed it right that his only Son would look the commoner…that there would be nothing remarkable at all in appearance! Have you ever stopped to ask Him why? Why Lord in all your power would you not make yourself stunning in aspect? Why not even comparable to the lilies?! What wisdom can you give me to save me from self?! >>>>>><<<<< Next time you go to the mirror, go in this conversation. I pray we all have ears to hear, dear sisters.
This week as I patiently try to learn how to style my short mane, I’ll be trying to take my own advice: I’ll be going to the mirror in conversation. I will try to go curious, not condemning. I will try to remain open, and not shut down. I will try to love, and not judge.
Be who you are
Truthfully this short hair fits me in this season. There is freedom in it. I’m pushing myself past my comfort zone and of course that is scary but it is also a thrill. I feel alive.
And when I look at this picture of myself I see a woman I want to get to know; a woman I want to spend time with; a woman who invites me into the courageous act of becoming more of who God says I already am. Be who you are are the words I hear the Spirit saying.
What do you hear the Spirit saying to you?
What scary thing might you face to make you come more alive this week? Do you hear your pilgrim heart calling you into your own pursuit of discomfort?
* (Mesko N. and Bereczkei T. (2004) Hairstyle as an adaptive means of displaying phenotypic quality. Human Nature 15: 251-270)