Saturday, December 13, 2008

the good with the bad.

Tonight I talked to this woman at church before the cantata, in which my husband and I are singing, about my hair.

It's interesting to watch people react to my hair.

I'm really trying to practice what I preach and get over what people think of me, but it's tough when people are staring at you in the store, and just randomly at church and other places.

I took my daughter to the doctor the other day and a little girl, I would put her at about age six, leaned over and whispered (like kids do): "Why is that lady's hair so short?" Her mom looked at her very seriously and said, quietly, but still unintentionally loudly enough for me to hear, "That lady is very sick, and she can't have long hair."

I wasn't sure what to do in that moment. Correct the woman? Lean over and tell her daughter, "Hey, I'm not sick, I cut my hair this way because I WANTED to" ? I'm not sure. My response was to sit there quietly and smile to myself. I admit it made me a little upset. I guess it's just stereotypes in general upset me to no end.

I'm not claiming I'm above them, because I'm sure I think of them from time to time and apply them to people I don't know without even thinking, but this one is hitting me right in the chest. I don't have cancer. Never did. I hope that I never will. But either way, can't a girl cut her hair the way she wants to and not be sick? Who knows.

Anyway, back to my conversation at the cantata.

The woman actually had cancer, I think two years ago, and lost all of her hair. She hasn't really talked to me before, but having the haircut has been a conversation starter for us. She asked me why I cut it and I told her, and then she told me that she really liked her hair when it was that way, so I asked her why she grew it out again. She said that she wanted to grow her hair for Locks for Love, the organization that takes hair donations of ten inches or longer to make wigs for people who can't grow hair due to radiation treatments. I nodded because I understood. She said, "I can't fix them, but I can grow my hair, that's my way to help."

I recently donated ten inches of my own hair to Locks for Love. I just got a postcard in the mail from them thanking me for my donation.

It was a really nice card - personalized and everything. I wish that I could somehow meet the girl who gets my hair.

It sort of sounds a little weird and creepy, but I think it would be so cool to know exactly where it went, you know?

I thought it was really neat that the woman from church was growing her hair for Locks for Love, and I told her so, and after the cantata we talked again. She said she was really tempted to just shave all of her hair off when she looked at me because she remembered how easy it was to care for and how freeing it was to not worry about it. She said, "That's what cancer does, it strips you of everything - how you look, all you have is what's inside, and you can be bitter about that, or you can refine the inside to be something worth looking at." She also said she loved having her hair short because people looked at her face and eyes - she felt like people saw HER, and not just the effort she put into herself in the morning.

I said, "So, something good came out of the bad thing."

She said, "There are no bad things, just learning experiences."

This is a woman who had cancer. A woman whose brother committed suicide at the age of twenty-four. I think her outlook on life is pretty amazing.

Oh, and I'm pretty much selling the hairstyle to everyone who asks now. They ask why and I tell them my son told me I looked like Grandma with the hair cut I got, and so after spending twenty minutes or so sitting in our walk-in closet, I came out and told my husband to "just shave it off." Which is basically true. I'd really been wanting to do it for years, but never had the guts. I always had some excuse - "oh, I'll get fired" (I was a teacher in the public school system) or "Oh, I have a show I'm auditioning for and don't want to look weird," or whatever. But now I had an excuse TO do it, and no one to stop me, no reason not to do it. So there it is.

After I tell the story then I tell them it's amazing, low maintenance, and every woman should try it at least once in her life.

I think, eventually, I'll have some takers.

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