June 1, 2024

hair, self-conscious, hippie, bully
                                                                                                                                                         Photo: Valeria Elash


I've always had this thing about hair.  

Early 1970s I was sort of a hippie.  Not the pot-smoking, pill-popping teenager, just a hippie in terms of hair and clothes. Like most young folks then, I wore flannel shirts and hip hugger bell-bottom jeans.   

Then there was the hair.  As was the fashion, I had waist-length hair.  Besides it being the style, there was another reason why I grew it out. 

From grade school to middle grade, I had shoulder length hair that flipped up on the ends.  One day I wanted a change.  I walked to a neighborhood beauty school and came back home with a super short hairdo. (The hairdresser convinced me it would be cute)  But when my grandmother took one look at my hair, she told me I looked like a boy.  Her remark crushed me.  

So, at that moment I decided to let my hair grow long.  By the 10th grade (1970) my hair was long enough to pull back into a ponytail.  By the 12th grade it was well past my shoulders.  

Like most girls at that time, I wore my hair parted down the middle.  That style was popular and it made me feel pretty.  But when it was time for senior pictures, my mom thought it best to wear my hair off of my forehead clasped in a barrette on the top of my head.   

She told me, "Only people with perfect faces can wear their hair parted down the middle."  

I didn't understand why she would say something so hurtful and why she wanted me to change my hair style.  But I didn't stand up to her or argue.  I caved in, brushed my hair back without a middle part, and had my senior portrait snapped with a hair style I never wore again.    

The following year in college (with the hippie era was in full swing) I grew my hair even longer, down to my waist.  But a couple of years after graduating and working full-time, I found taking care of it too time-consuming.  Eventually, I asked a hairstylist cut off 12 inches of my hair.  I kept it short for years with the exception of growing it to my shoulders for my wedding.  When I turned forty, I began to wear a much shorter style.     

I still have this thing about hair.  And after having a baby, I noticed it was thinning out.  Now I rely on mousses, volumizing shampoos, thickening tonics, and hairspray to plump up the strands.  I even take a medicine to stimulate hair growth.   

Luckily, I have an amazing hairdresser who cares about me and how I feel about my hair.  My stylist TJ has impeccable taste when it comes to just about anything (clothes, interior design, cars, food).  I trust him and know he'll create a style that will look good on me.  After going to TJ, I have more confidence.  Lots more confidence than I had as a teenager.  Back then, I didn't have the guts to tell bullies to back off.  These people included school mates as well as family members who felt they could get away with saying cruel and thoughtless things to me.

If I could go back in time, I'd tell my younger hippie self: 

It's okay if family members don't like your hair style.  Some people say things without thinking about how it may affect you.  So, shut out the negative comments and wear your hair any way you want.  Wear it short.  Wear it long, straight, and parted down the middle.  You are unique.  Embrace that.   

And don't let anyone stop you from being you.   

À la prochaine!