A single haircut taught me many things

On my old blog, I shared a personal essay (I Don't Owe Prettiness to Anyone) regarding my short haircut. It's one of my favorite pieces I've written to this day. However, after re-reading it, I noticed a certain message coming across. A message I don't want to spread. I was writing from my side of the story, which isn't fair when it involves people you love/who love you. Therefore, the essay's been edited quite a bit.

With my hair finally growing back, I've been reflecting a lot on that experience, and the lessons I learned. It made me think of that essay. I thought it got deleted along with the old blog, but I found a copy in Google Docs. When I was writing the essay, I felt so in tune with myself and felt compelled to tell my story. There was a lot of emotion. It was that moment that helped me realize my blog could be whatever I wanted it to be, and not a typical beauty/fashion/lifestyle blog. I realized I had a voice and stories worth sharing.

While it feels amazing to feel like myself again and have fairly long hair, I don't regret anything. And I don't take the experience for granted. It taught me a lot about self-acceptance/love and confidence. While I don't plan on cutting my hair that short (ever) again, it's pretty cool that I had the courage to do so. 

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In April of 2015, I got a pixie hair cut because I wanted to try something new, and had an "anything is possible" attitude. I was about to start two internships, I had gotten out of a relationship, and I was living in a new city. I was accustomed to change by that point so it didn't feel too scary. 

To provide some background, my hair was my security blanket all throughout high school and college (as it is for a lot of people). I once received a message from anonymous that I looked better with long hair, after I had just gotten a haircut. To a young girl who sought acceptance from those around her, that message stuck with me for a long time. When I graduated from college and started "adulting", I felt a sense of freedom to do whatever I wanted to do, and be whoever I wanted to be. My tattoo is a physical reminder of that "wild" time (it wasn't actually wild).

One day I came across a photo of Kina Grannis, and I noticed she cut her hair. I loved it. Shortly after, I went on a Google frenzy and discovered that Audrey Tautou, Audrey Hepburn, and Michelle Williams all had pixie cuts at one point in their lives. They looked gorgeous, fresh, and happy.

"I want to be those things!" I thought.

It did take time to take the leap but I thought, "If not now, when?" I didn't tell a soul when I did it, and I debuted my new hair on Instagram. I was wearing a trench coat and felt so cool. The likes were coming in and I thought, "Yes! I made a good choice!" The following morning, I ran my fingers through my hair and my heart dropped. It hit me that my hair was gone, and growing it back wasn't going to be fast as refilling a Metrocard. When I walked down the streets, I felt ugly. What made it worse was that my parents didn't like it at all. My mom's approval means a lot, so when I saw her reaction, my confidence diminished even further. It was also that very reaction, along with my dad's comment about me resembling a boy, that made me sad, confused, and angry.

Thinking back at that moment, their reactions were completely understandable. I can see myself having the same reaction if my (non-existent) child had done what I did. And this is a wake up call that I, too am not always kind, sensitive, and non-judgmental. Perhaps we all fall short in this area; one moment we're the victim and then the next, we're the perpetrator. I can't point fingers at any one person because I, too am part of the problem. I believe certain messages and standards, and when someone doesn't fit that, they're different. I need to acknowledge this, forgive myself, and be better.

I wish society (myself included) didn't place so much importance on appearance, but rather on intelligence, kindness, and courage. We need more of that in this world. We don't need more photo-shopped ads, or another line of green juice that'll help us lose the last five pounds.

A guy I once dated said, "You're pretty but you're not beautiful." While I should’ve said “Thanks. You’re an asshole,” I kept waiting for affirmation. Waiting for him to say "You're beautiful." For the longest time, I believed my worth was defined by my appearance. The numbers on a scale. The size of my pants. The amount of likes on a selfie. My identity is no longer found in those things. My identity is found in Christ, which is defined by His love and grace. 

Yet, some days I see my reflection in a mirror and think "Fat. Not enough. Unlovable." When that happens, I'm going to replace them with "I am loved," because that's the truth. God doesn't care about outer appearance, and I need to remind myself of this every day. 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
— 1 Peter 3:3-4