“You need a haircut,” he said, looking me straight in the eye. I felt the sting. I looked in the mirror then decided not to argue with a five-year-old. He went on. “You look like a lion.”
Feeling bad about my hair has been a part of my history since childhood. More than one home haircut left my bangs chopped to the top of my forehead. In first grade a big section of the right side of my head was shaved for a surgery. One well-intended adult said “Well, you’re still a nice girl,” and I knew the rest of the sentence.
In a family of ten, the beauty budget wasn’t big. No bows and barrettes. The city bus took us downtown to Capital Beauty School for haircuts. When I was old enough, I would give my mom home permanents, wrapping strands of her hair in small squares of tissue paper and rolling them onto pink plastic rods. I can still smell the stink of the chemical I squeezed from the small plastic bottle onto her head, dabbing the drips as they ran down her neck.
A teen in the hippie era, my thin straight hair hung down to the middle of my back through college. When I left the Midwest for law school in Boston, a friend offered me a free head of curls. At 22 I finally liked what I saw in the mirror.
As a young professional in the era of Dress for Success, I alternated between a short bob and pulling my hair back tightly on the sides. My mother once handed me $15 saying kindly, “Do something with your hair.”
After my divorce I did. I sheared my hair super short as though I were joining the army or a monastery.
For years following, my hair hid under hats until they became my signature accessory. More years passed. I went from lawyer to life coach. I took on another new do that some would call the “Did you forget to comb?” look.
I loved it. Many didn’t. I kept it, nonetheless. These days a Monday morning meeting might mean a curling iron and a Saturday night date might mean looking messy.
Rather than bristle when someone opines on my appearance, I hope next time I can take in the feedback with a chuckle as though a child had just commented on my “just got out of bed coiffure.” Mostly I want to check the mirror to make sure I look like me.
I can choose or change with any season. For now, I’m sticking with lion.
Are you open to feedback? Do you take it personally?
Do you change your appearance to please others?
Do you feel like the “true you” when you get ready for your day?