“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” ~ Coco Chanel
Six months ago I performed the greatest act of self-love I have ever done: I cut my hair. Gorgeous, beautiful, long, caramel curls. Gone.
I dreamed of having short hair for years. I thought it was beautiful to see a woman’s face rather than her hair. I wanted to have people see the person behind the hair.
My hair was the hair of a lioness: caramel and honey curls forming a halo around my face and cascading down my back. I seemed to exude confidence and strength. That was the veneer. But energetically what I was putting out to the world through my hair was my lack of confidence in myself and my inability to take a stand for myself.
I had barely changed my hair for decades because of the opinions of others. As a little girl, I would sit still at my mother’s feet while she spent hours perfecting each one of my curls as I silently wished I were playing with the other children in our apartment building.
As a 23-year-old anthropology student-turned-beauty queen, I competed for the title of Miss Rio de Janeiro. When I blew out my curls for the competition, the organizer of the pageant ran to me and said, “Get your hair back to curly right now. Your beauty is in your hair.” I obediently dunked my head in a sink and got back to curly. As I continued to pursue a career in beauty my professional right to my own hair seemed to dissolve.
At 25, I literally begged my modeling booker in Chicago to allow me to cut my hair short. I felt powerless as I pleaded with someone else to allow me to change my own body. She said, “No.” My hair stayed long. Two years ago I dyed my hair black. I had become a mother and I felt I now should have the right to make some decisions about what happens with my body as I had birthed a human being. A month after I colored my hair, my talent agents and manager demanded I dye it back to caramel. I did so dutifully. My soon-to-be ex-husband scoffed when I asked him if he would find me beautiful with short hair.
It’s my hair. My body. I can do what I want with it. But I didn’t. For 35 years I allowed other people to determine what my body should look like. I felt trapped. I wanted to please these different people as they came into my life. I feared that by not abiding to their wishes, I would lose them. In doing so I restrained myself from doing something so mundane as cutting my hair. One of the tenets of living a mindful life is self-acceptance. I strived to accept myself from an intellectual place, but I was not able to apply these thoughts at a practical level until I had the courage and the life circumstances to cut my hair short.
This year I cut my hair short, short, short. It took courage for me to do so. This leap forward followed the break down of my life as I knew it. In the four weeks before I cut my hair off, I fired my talent manager, my agents dropped me, and my husband and I decided to divorce. With these endings, I felt freedom. For the first time in my life I took full ownership of my self, of my being, of my entity, of my wholeness. Of my hair. I could finally do whatever I wanted to do with my body and it was no one’s business.
That’s when it sunk in that it had never been anyone else’s business. I had been living my life as a victim. Many childhood wounds lead me to that place. I’m human. It happened. But once I came to comprehend that and its implications for the entirety of my life, I was given the opportunity to wake up and accept that I had been giving my personal power away.
I’ve taken it back. I love my hair short.
I spent so long convincing myself that I should love my long hair because it was “objectively” an asset. My parents said so, my relatives, my friends, my boyfriends, my husband, my agents, my bookers, my parents’ friends, my in-laws, casting directors, hair stylists, the lady on the F train, the owner of the bodega on the corner…and the list goes on. All I ever needed to have done is accepted my want to be seen for myself and not my hair.
I now feel beautiful, strong, and competent when I look in the mirror. I love to run my fingers through my short hair. I love that I finally took the risk to let go of my hair. I feel that at 35 I finally took ownership of my own body. I love looking like me now. I love being me.
It shows: I just booked my first hair commercial ever. It is for a major hair company and I am excited to represent the brand. Throughout my modeling and acting career, I came so close so many times to booking hair commercials. It never made sense to me why my “objectively beautiful hair” didn’t get me the kind of work I wanted. Now I understand: My beautiful long hair was actually the outer manifestation of my inner fear. Now my short hair allows my inner joy to shine out to the world.
Our greatest strength in caring and accepting our bodies is making sure that our choices for our bodies come solely from our own needs and wants.
Author: N.V. Randall
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own