Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Updo Epiphany

So. My husband loves my hair long. Really long. I am growing it out for him.

I've grown it out for him before. And he loved it, loved it, loved it.

Then one year for my birthday he let me chop it all off. Why was a haircut a birthday present? Because my hair is e x t r e m e l y thick. Yes, I know it's a good problem to have. But if you have thick hair like me, you'll agree with me that the emphasis in the preceding sentence lies on the word problem.

My to-die-for, grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence hair grows forward. That means each and every little hair follicle (except for the cowlick protruding straight up out of my forehead which prevents me from ever being able to manage bangs) is pointed toward my eyes. My hair spends ALL of its time trying to force itself into the 'Cousin It' look.

What this means for me is that if I plan to get anything at all done during the day, my hair must go back. But there are several ensuing dilemmas.

I have an extra large head. It runs in the family. Headbands don't fit me. Every single flimsy little plastic headband does one of two things. It pops off the top of my head like a spring, unable to span the massive cranial girth I inherited, or it submits to the pressure of my hair's natural forward motion and I end up looking like a mix between Cousin It and Geordi La Forge from Star Trek.

If the elastic headbands that fit so snugly all the way around smaller heads don't follow their plastic cousins by shooting off my head and joining a rubber band war, they cut off the circulation on my giant noggin and give me a massive headache.

Jeff thinks I look like Aunt Jemima when I hide my entire mass of hair under a kerchief. Additionally, the kerchief has to be very loose to prevent the aforementioned migraine. It therefore continuously slips furtively down the back of my head, causing me to avoid any kind of sudden head movement in order to keep the darn thing on.

My hair is too thick and heavy for those claw things. What a joke!

This leads us to the scrunchy. My jealous lover, the scrunchy. In high school and college, when my hair was always very long, I sported a scrunchy permanently attached to my wrist. Someone once asked me what three things I would take behind the Iron Curtain, and I answered automatically: my mini Bible, my chapstick, and my scrunchy. But my problems with the scrunchy are many.

I rarely find scrunchies big enough for my hair. I can gather all of my hair into a normal-sized scrunchy and double it over once. But not twice. The problem here is that a scrunchy doubled once is too loose and slides right off my ponytail. You'll often find me in the hair accoutrement section of the supermarket stretching scrunchies out as wide as they go to see if they'll work or not. And when I do find some that I can double over twice, I cling to them for dear life.

I can use 2 scrunchies to cram all of my hair into a neat little bun on the back of my head, which has always been one of my favorite ways to wear my hair back. But Jeff says I look like his grandmother. And the buns never hold for long because, yep, you guessed it. The weight of my hair exceeds the strength of the scrunchies.

There's always the ponytail. But if I wear a ponytail high on the back of my head, my brain throbs. And if I wear it low on the back of my head, it sags and sags until the scrunchy comes to rest at the base of my neck, and then the ponytail encircles my throat like kudzu and chokes me to death.

With any of the above scrunchy options, all the small tendrils of hair that live near my face worm their way out of the scrunchy and tickle-torture my cheeks like so many hundreds of tiny spiders until I sit twitching, unable to process logical thought. It is at this point that I must resist the urge to run for the razor and shave my head.

So I use barrettes. For the little tendrils. Mind you, they have to be industrial-sized barrettes. I usually need six barrettes plus two scrunchies to keep all the hair in place.

Now here's the painful truth. I function best when my hair is crammed into a 2-scrunchy bun and loaded with barrettes. But when my hair is stretched tightly to the sides of my head and each stray piece is pinned securely in place, I personally feel that I look like a boy.

Jeff, of course, disagrees. But remember the beard I mentioned a few posts ago? When all my dark hair is mostly out of view, the next darkest thing the eye catches is the peppery black stubble poking through the pasty white skin of my chin. (I've won the 'whitest skin' contest numerous times.)

When I feel that ugly, the negative self-talk from my childhood takes over. "You look like a boy. You're ugly. Your face is too round. You look fat. You're worthless."

Therefore, I actually only function best when my hair is crammed into a 2-scrunchy bun and loaded with barrettes AND I don't look in the mirror. And as I'm going about my day and I happen to glance at my reflection, my countenance drops and I look quickly away to avoid having to face the stark reality of my own worthlessness.

Yes, I know. What a pack of lies! My worth has nothing whatsoever to do with how I'm wearing my hair! My worth is based in the solid fact that I am a child of the King of the Universe! I am God's daughter! A royal princess! Psalm 45:10-11 says, "Listen, O daughter! Consider and give ear! Forget your people and your father's house! The King is enthralled by your beauty! Honor Him, for He is your Lord."

But if I feel ugly, it just tailspins from there.

So to avoid a daily battle against feelings of ugliness and worthlessness, I like to keep my hair cut short.

But my husband loves my hair long. Really long. So I am growing it out for him.

As my hair has grown, I've grieved the loss of having a framed face, which helps hide the round look and draws attention away from my stubble. I've accepted with chagrin the well-known trial of living life in slippery scrunchy land. I've mournfully sainted and martyred my own soul to be doomed to engage once more in the continuous battle with my thoughts. All for the sake of my husband. Woe is me, woe is me. I have to wear my super thick, luscious dark hair LONG.

But today...

...I had a beautifully simple epiphany. It went something like this:

If wearing your hair in a scrunchy makes you feel ugly, then find a way to put your hair back that doesn't carry with it that negative connotation.


Good idea.

That little chicken tail thing girls do doesn’t make me feel ugly. Braids don't make me feel ugly. Pigtails don't make me feel ugly. There are lots of cute updo options!

This epiphany wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't stumbled upon a golden combination last Saturday as I attempted to finagle my hair into a Mother-of-the-Ringbearers look for my friend's wedding. I put my hair into a hair band and THEN bit it with that claw thing, and it stayed up! With the help, of course of four barrettes and 12 or so bobby pins.

I can hear the warm chuckles and see the bewildered head tilts of those of you who've been doing your hair since you could grab a cheerio between your thumb and forefinger. But maybe you'll understand why this epiphany is a big deal to me when you view the journey of my childhood hair stylings.

This is the first time in my life where, concerning my hair, everyone wins. It's (getting) long, which Jeff loves, and it's up in such a way that I still feel like a woman. A worthwhile, functional daughter of God.

This rapturous moment I could not keep to myself. Thank you for sharing it with me.