Author: Alex Lentz
Growing up, one of the main things I learned about beauty was: the longer the hair, the more beautiful you were. For most of my life, my hair was kept at a typical length but during my freshman year of high school, I chopped off my long, curly locks to support my grandma in her fight with cancer. I fell in love with having short locks, but felt such a huge pressure to prove myself as a woman now that I had a more “masculine” look. For years on and off, my hair was either pixie short or went past my shoulders but in 2015 I cut my hair to a near buzz to start all over. My poor hair had been to hell and back with perms, box dyes, and bad shampoos so I decided to cut most of it off to get my healthy hair back.
About nine months into my hair journey, I started to notice a pattern. If men were around, my style would completely change. Sometimes, I’d go as far as asking how they preferred me to look. I had never been hit on so much in my life and those whom I’d never suspected to be attracted to me were all of a sudden lining up to talk to me or take me out. The attention was lovely, so what else would a girl dying for love and approval do? I kept telling myself that I was only doing this to “evolve my sense of fashion” but I think even the greatest stranger would know it was all a lie to cover up deep needs my heart had. I got so caught up with what other people saw as beautiful that I stopped asking myself what it looked like for me.
I finally decided to throw out all of the suitcases of what beauty “should” look like and packed a new one that looked more like me. I began to reminisce on my year and saw every time that I did something to my style was only to impress others. Enough was enough. It was time for me to stop giving a crap about what others thought and love me the way I wanted.
Immediately, I ran upstairs and brought out my clippers. I didn’t just buzz it all and call it a day. Every cut was painful. I couldn’t believe I let myself get that deep in allowing others to tell me what “beautiful” was. I eventually wound up with the shortest buzzcut I ever had but felt this deep sense of dissatisfaction. I decided to sleep it off and see how I felt in the morning. I woke up with that same feeling and asked my heart what I really wanted to do. That’s when I decided to get a safety razor and shave the last bits off. When I finished my hair, overwhelming peace filled the atmosphere. The lumps all over my scalp and terrible tan line all of a sudden became beautiful to me. Unexplored land that I got to love.
It’s been a good minute since the big cut, and all I have experienced is freedom to be. Some of my greatest aspirations I never thought possible are unfolding before my eyes and it’s all because I chose to love all of me. Not just the parts that people clap for, but the parts that sometimes feel alone and left out.
I’m not writing this to tell every girl (or guy even) that the only way to love yourself is to shave your head but I will say this: be unafraid in your pursuit of you. At the end of the day, you are all you have. Might as well love yourself the best way possible.