It was time to get a trim.
I always know it’s time to see my hairdresser when I’m feeling unattractive. For me, a good haircut and style shift my energy in a positive direction.
I had my hair long for many years until a few years ago when I tried a shorter look. It was fun and easy to take care of, but I’ve been growing it back out for the last few months and wanted to continue that.
So I explained to my hairdresser: keep the length, just bring up the layers a bit to frame my face better.
We chatted about various things, and I wasn’t paying particular attention to what she was doing. I like to just relax when I get my hair done and trust that my hairdresser understands what I’m asking for.
She finished, and I looked up in the mirror. Oh. My. God.
This was not what I had in mind. She had kept some of the length in the back, but cut it too short around my face. It stuck out on the sides like the edges of a flying saucer—not what I wanted at all. That sinking feeling in my belly appeared, like someone just dropped a bowling ball on me.
I blamed myself for not explaining well enough or not watching her carefully as she cut each tress. Last time this happened, I simply shrugged my shoulders and told her to cut it short again. This time though, I really wanted to grow my hair out.
I wondered what to do. It’s not like you can paste your hair back on.
Since I didn’t want to cut it short again or try to even it out, I decided I just needed to learn to live with it. But how?
When I got into the car to drive home, I texted my husband and daughter: “Warning—my haircut sucks and looks awful. Please be kind.”
I arrived home and braced myself for the reception from my family. My daughter is 13 and has what I like to call a limited supply of tact, so I was surprised when she declared, “Actually, Mom, it doesn’t look bad.” My husband agreed.
I was confused. Were they just saying it to comfort me, to be nice? I couldn’t tell. All I knew was when I looked in the mirror, I felt despair.
I tried to maintain some hope though. Often, hairdressers give me a good cut but can’t style my mixture of curls and fine hair worth beans. I told myself that tomorrow I would wash and style it myself, and maybe it would look better. The nightmare would be over.
The next morning, I washed it, applied my hair products, and hung my head upside down over the diffuser. After I flipped my hair up, I stared in the mirror. Please, no.
My hair was sticking out in a weird way and there wasn’t enough length to balance it out. I wanted to cry. I felt hideous. What was I going to do? Should I go back and try to have her fix it (even though that would set me back on my length goals) or just learn to live with it?
We all know the temptation of an immediate fix. But too often, we end up worse off than where we began. So I decided to wait and see what my new hair might bring. I would bravely go where no woman wants to go—out into the world with a bad haircut.
Heading to my counseling office the next day, I was stunned to see that the paparazzi did not, in fact, show up to snap pictures of my do. Because isn’t that what we all fear? That somehow, people will be lined up, ready to capture our failings, our missteps, and post them for the world to see?
“Connie Habash—Winner of the Worst Hair of 2018.”
Nope, no one said a thing. No one seemed to even notice. Maybe my hair wasn’t as bad as it seemed?
I relaxed into the day, shifting my focus to being present with clients. Being with people through meaningful moments in their lives deeply touches me. Ending the day with my favorite part of my psychotherapy practice, my women’s group, left me feeling joyful and fulfilled. And it felt like any other session—no one even commented on my hair. The members were simply present and compassionate with each other, exploring their worlds and their connection to something greater. My hair didn’t blip on their radar.
I started to wonder if maybe people weren’t really looking at my appearance at all, but seeing who I truly am.
I returned home feeling happy. Looking in the bathroom mirror, I started to like my hair. Did the hair change—or did I?
When I felt bad about myself, my hair seemed irreparable. But when my mood was positive and joyful, I thought it looked okay. Not perfect, but kind of cute.
We believe that if we get a great haircut or look a certain way, we’ll feel awesome. If we’re lucky, that happens for a day or two, but it doesn’t last. Self-esteem lasts when we’re authentically ourselves and doing something meaningful to us.
When I’m in that mode, I forget about my hair and immerse myself in the present moment, the person I’m with, the insight and awareness happening now. Because the present moment is what truly matters in my life.
I’m living with my less-than-desirable haircut. It’s okay—it’s hair and it will grow back. More importantly, it gives me the opportunity to remember the truth of who I am, which is within me and not based on my external appearance.
But I’m still going to try a new hairdresser.
Author: Rev. Connie L. Habash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen