What I Learned From Buzzing My Hair

I had two other posts in my head about the topic of buzzing all my hair off, but today I got my hair cut, and if my hair is already long enough to get cut into a style then I can no longer use the buzzing as a current experience/experiment.  So this will be my last post on the topic, and as such I want to lay out some of the things I have learned this month.

1. I still look like me.

That sounds silly, but there really was part of me that thought I’d look like someone else: someone tragically ill, someone with hidden issues, someone unrecognizable. But none of that was true. In fact, my husband said he kinda liked it more than some of my other hairstyles (and there have been a lot) because he could really see my face. Which brings me to something else I learned.

2. I hide a lot, and it’s unnecessary.

When I had really long hair I hid my face behind it, kind of like Violet in The Incredibles. When I had short hair I used sunglasses. And it’s not that I was hiding my face as though I thought my face was ugly, it’s that in covering my eyes I was actually creating a safe space for my soul, my personality, my fear of hurt and rejection that I kept bottled up and protected like a treasure. The eye is the window to the soul, and when I was scared of metaphorical monsters I could just cover my eyes and believe that if I couldn’t see them they couldn’t see me. But that’s also not true. What’s true is that there aren’t really any monsters, and if there are it’s best to see them coming.

3. Patience is a virtue, or at least there’s nothing we can do about the wait. 

I’m not ugly but I’m not Aphrodite either, so for the first couple weeks after I buzzed my hair I’d kind of forget about it until I’d walked into the bathroom and catch sight of myself in the mirror, at which point I’d be taken aback and kind of go “gyeuchhhh” to myself in disgust. But then, after going through 5 possible ways to fix it in the span of half a second, I’d realize that nothing needed to be done except wait, and it’s in the waiting that transformation happens. Christians all over the world wait for the kingdom of God in this sort of “already, not yet” tension, and weirdly that’s how I felt about myself. I was already everything I needed to be, but I was not yet what I could become.

So that’s it for now, at least about hair. I haven’t landed for sure on the next topic but it’ll probably be one of the following: marriage, sex, kids/parenting, or when you’re a pastor’s wife. Stay tuned….

susan hairstyles

Pictures from 2008 to 2019.

 

Girls Are So Pretty

It’s been less than a week since I cut all my hair off but there are so many things I could mention about the experience so far.

Let’s start with the things people have said:

  • One person told me I was going to be cold.
  • One said that I didn’t go extreme enough.
  • Someone said everyone would think I was sick and that I would scare my children.
  • One person warned me that people could think I was a neo-Nazi.
  • Some people have avoided the topic altogether or very visibly have pretended they didn’t notice (the latter was someone at work).
  • Some have leaned in, concern on their faces, asking, “You are okay, right?”
  • There has been a lot of lament in the form of “Oh, your beautiful hair!”
  • But also a “All you Redemption girls are so pretty.”
  • And I did have an old friend text that I was “one badass lady.”

So, over all, it’s been colorful.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the majority of people my age think that the idea of buzzing all one’s hair off to make a statement is awesome, while people who are older or wealthier or have more white collar jobs find it confusing, unnerving, or just plain wrong. This isn’t across the board and I don’t want to make a bunch of assumptions as to why, it’s just something I’ve noticed and found interesting.

Something else I’ve been thinking about this week is how this topic is covered in film and tv. Just off the top of my head (heh!), here are most of the ways I’ve seen it portrayed:

  • Women buzz their hair when they’ve suffered a psychotic break. (Girl Interrupted)
  • Women lose their hair to cancer. (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Women have their hair buzzed off without their permission as a form of torture or imprisonment or subjugation, times when they are meant to be belittled and called worthless (like in Holocaust films or V For Vendetta).
  • Women have their hair buzzed off intentionally as a symbol of the giving up of individual identity, as one would when joining the army. (G.I. Jane)
  • And even when it’s not total hair loss and just the act of cutting one’s hair short it is often associated with the loss of beauty or trying to disguise oneself as a man (Joan of Arc, Rapunzel, Mulan, Anne With An E, and many others)

Again, I don’t want to make a bunch of assumptions or draw hasty conclusions so I’ll let that one sit for a while for contemplation.

Here’s the crux of all this. So often a woman’s appearance is seen as simultaneously a way to measure her worth (to her advantage or disadvantage) and a weapon (one that can hurt others or make her a victim). I have felt that throughout my life, and in response I want my fuzzy buzzed head to be a symbol of empowerment; not a haughty or angry empowerment but a grounded and calm one. And I think one of the few examples I get of this – since I’m not getting it from the older generation or from media – is when I go up to Holy Cross Monastery in New York.

Holy Cross is the home of a bunch of male monks and they don’t have buzzed heads, BUT they do have a big guest house and every time I visit I meet women from all over. Often, these women are on track to being ordained, or they’re nuns, or they’re high ranking leaders in their denominations, and sometimes they have all their hair cut off.

I remember one woman who visited specifically because she was scheduled to lead Mass. At Holy Cross there are five services a day, but Mass is the only one that contains a full sermon/teaching and communion, both led by an individual instead of all the monks in unison. And it was impressive to see this tall, crop-haired woman in her robes leading a room full of holy men and guests toward a greater understanding of God. She gazed heavenward and raised her hands in blessing and she almost radiated with the presence of God, as though she were the Holy Spirit itself. This was a person of gravitas and strength and love and serenity. This was a person of beauty.

I want to be like her.

hair 1

 

 

Day 74

This past week, the doorway got opened up, the kitchen hood vent went in, the ceiling insulation went in, and we bought our new appliances!

Coming up…

  • opening the kitchen/dining room passthrough window tomorrow
  • installing cabinets on Friday
  • installing appliances on Saturday
  • My husband and I need to order countertops and decide on flooring

So you might get some good pictures next week.

In the meantime, I’ll tell you, my husband and I have been having some pretty intense talks with God lately. But before I tell you how mine went, I have to tell you a story about my son. (Bear with the length of this post.)

*

Yesterday my son, who is 5, got the tiniest, most pathetic sliver in his finger. It was so tiny and sunk so shallowly that I probably could have wiped it out of his skin with a tissue, but he wouldn’t let me touch it. We sat on the hallway floor near a bright window for at least 20 minutes, me holding some tweezers and talking him down while he sat 3 feet away protecting his sliver finger from me like a prized possession.

“It’s going to hurt!” he sobbed.

“It already hurts,” I said. “You might as well let me take it out so it STOPS hurting.”

“How long will it take?”

“Less than a second, but you can’t move.”

“But it’ll hurt!” he sobbed again.

“That’s why you have to be brave,” I said.

“I CAN’T!”

“Yes, you can.”

And it kept going like this for an annoyingly long time. (Just so you know, I tried tackling him first but that had way worse results than the patience tactic.) Finally, I got him to stick his hand out and hold still, with obvious reluctance, and I popped the sliver out in half a second. He then smiled and went on his merry way.

Why do kids make things so much worse for themselves?

*

This past week I took in some really great media (a live sermon, a political radio broadcast, a tv show, and a friend’s novel) but the end result was me getting pissed at God last night for not making a better world. The logic went like this:

“If God is so good and so all-knowing and so powerful and so able to create anything, then why didn’t he think to create a world without all the crap? Without fear. Without cruelty and abuse. Without corruption and violence? Why didn’t God create a world where Jesus didn’t HAVE TO save everyone? Why didn’t God create a world that included free will WITHOUT a fall? Why didn’t God just not create the snake? I assume that God could have, but just didn’t. God, in his ‘all-wisdom’ thought it would be better this way, with the loss and the heartache and the sacrifice. God’s a glory-hog. 

“And (the rant continued in my head) don’t just pull the Job argument and say that I wasn’t there so I don’t know, because that’s a copout. And don’t just roll your eyes saying this is just a stereotypical ‘problem of pain’ or ‘problem of evil’ because it’s not. I’m asking why you didn’t do better? IT WAS YOUR JOB TO DO BETTER!”

And I cried into my pillow on my way to sleep because I couldn’t trust that God had the world’s back. Of course, deep down I knew that this wasn’t purely altruistic; I had a specific instance in mind.

At least a year ago, maybe two at this point, our house got broken into. The person took our computers, my purse with my id, my credit card, $200 in cash. But what bothered me wasn’t the stuff that was taken, it was the thought that there were two small children asleep upstairs, and this person who was roaming around our house uninvited looking through our things might not have just been a thief. So now every night I check and double check the locks on each downstairs door. I check the locks on every window, even the third floor. I look behind the shower curtain, and under the beds, and in the closets, and behind the bathroom door. And sometimes, if it takes me too long between one place and another, I have to start all over again because, “what if someone slipped past without me noticing?” I know God loves us dearly, but I also know that God (and we) are not always best served by everything going well.

So I imagine the kidnapping of my children. I imagine the death of my husband.

“It hurts!” I sob.

“You might as well trust me so that it STOPS hurting.”

“How long will it take?”

“Less than a second, but you have to believe me.”

“But it’ll hurt!” I sob again.

“That’s why you have to be brave.”

“I CAN’T!” I scream in my head.

“Yes, you can.”

And I realize that I am the same as my 5-year-old son, and that God has my back even if it’s going to hurt, and that God is a far more patient parent that I will ever be.

doorway

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