Trimmed all the way back to the crazy

I got an unfortunate haircut last night. The cut itself is well-executed; it's not what I had in mind and is much shorter than I pictured. When I looked at myself in this haircut in the mirror, I was shocked. Whoa! I don't look like me anymore! I don't like what I look like! I felt exposed and flawed and un-sexy.

So, readers, I threw a whiney-ass binky baby fit.

N: What's wrong? That's not what you wanted?
Me, big tears: No. It's horrible.
N, shrugs: It'll grow back in two weeks.

I haven't had such a pathetic, immaturely devasted reaction to a haircut since I was 14. (You all with toddler daughters, pay attention. You will someday have to cope with your loved, beautiful, previously sane darling when she bursts into tears looking in the mirror and grabs her hair in handfuls pleading, Grow back! Grow back!)

The outsized drama of my reaction interested me. What was going on here? Why would a haircut have such power over my self-image? Before haircut: feeling strong, happy, and let's face it, adorable. In sore need of a haircut. After haircut: feeling dumpy, flawed, miserable. WHAT THE HELL?

N: Well, did you tell them to cut it that short?
Me: No! I had a picture! Tell me I'm beautiful...
N (because it is not his Job in Life to manage my insecurity): It looks fine.

I'm sure it does. But when I looked in the mirror I saw angles of my face I wasn't used to seeing. And the mental habits of comparing myself to others' beauty standards have enough of a grip, evidently, that they kicked in first.

When you compare yourself to others using arbitrary standards, you will feel bad. When you compare poorly, bad about yourself. When you compare well, driven to look for another comparison to validate the first, which is its own kind of bad feeling.

This is why much of advertising enrages me. Its M.O. is to encourage us to feel incomplete and flawed so we'll buy something we don't need. And it's hard to keep the thought process of "compare, be disappointed in yourself, purchase," from slopping over into day-to-day thinking. If you don't like what you see in a mirror, you have a piece of work to do to simply get over yourself. Much less actively approve of yourself.

If you are in this boat at all, remember that the voices saying, "Oo, now everyone can see all your flaws, you look ridiculous and sad" are all in your own head. It is up to you to say, "No mere [haircut, scar, limp, wrinkles, chin flap, WHATEVER IT IS] can hide the fact that I am a thoroughly delightful, completely adorable creature."

Then remember that it doesn't matter one tiny little bit whether you qualify as beautiful in your own or anyone else's eyes. Our lives are just too short for that to matter. What matters is whether you go out and undermine anyone's confidence, including your own.


Anonymous said...

Ann - no hair styling necessary for a run bike or swim ;-) I hate getting my hair cut! zip