The Haircut

Rich and me Before the Haircut. 

What the Hairdresser Showed Me

“So,” he asked me, running his fingers through my graying curls, gauging the heft of my hair, “How much time a day do you spend on your hair?”

“About thirty seconds,” I said, watching him.

He didn’t blanch. “And I don’t want to color it,” I added. “I’m good with the gray.” Now I felt defiant.

“That’s great,” he replied.

And,” I continued, “I don’t want to look like my daughter. But I don’t want to look like I’m ready for the retirement home, either.

His smile reminded me that I was here for a haircut, not hostage negotiations. “How long do you plan to go?”

“I dunno yet. I’ve worn it really short for the past seven years, and I’m ready to grow it out. I know I want it longer than this, but I’m not sure where I’ll stop. But right now it’s so overgrown…I need a trim to keep it in shape while I’m growing it.”

“Well,” he laughed. “The good thing is we can always shorten hair.”

He picked up his scissors and went to work, pruning back wayward strands that wanted, these days, to leap for joy.

Exuberant. That’s a word for my hair.

As he worked we made easy conversation. He told me about his work, how he’d begun cutting hair a quarter century earlier, straight out of high school.

“You like it, then,” I ventured.

“I do.”

“So many women aren’t happy with how they look. If I can help a woman gain confidence, feel better about how she presents herself to the world–well, that’s good work.”

I nodded and waited. “You, though,” he said. “You’re confident. You don’t fret about your gray. You’re comfortable with your hair.”

My chest contracted as if I’d been plunged into an icy pool. Me? Confident? About my hair? I couldn’t believe he had said that.

“I’m over my hair,” I told him, hoping he wouldn’t notice that I was gasping for air. “When I was a kid I wanted long, straight, blonde hair, parted down the middle. Like Marsha Brady. Or, if you’re old enough, Peggy Lipton on Mod Squad. This hair”–I ran a hand through his work–“doesn’t do that.”

I didn’t mention the years spent attempting to tame my hair. I didn’t tell him about the very expensive haircuts my mother arranged for my curly-headed sister and me. I didn’t mention the long sessions with the comb and barrettes, trying to extract obedience from hair that was created to rebel. I didn’t tell him about how hopeless my hair had been.

I didn’t mention that by the time I was ten, I knew my hair was irredeemable and wondered what that said about me.

Irredeemable Hair. Christmas, 1970. 

“When you came in,” he told me, “I could tell you weren’t all wound up about your hair.”

“I’ve reached a point,” I told him, “when if someone is going to form an enduring opinion of my worth based on what my hair looks like–well….I’m not prepared to worry about that.”

He nodded, picked up a comb, judged the length of a lock.

New Hair.

And I realized that he had pulled a truth from me. I want to look nice, yes. But whether my hair or my shoes or my laugh is acceptable to you really doesn’t matter that much to me, these days.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but it’s happened:

I know, not just in my doctrine-absorbing head, but in my Christ-worshiping heart, that I am acceptable, despite all my flaws, to the only One whose opinion really matters. 

I laughed outside, feeling, maybe for the first time, what it means to be free. And it was the hairdresser, of all people, who showed me.

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

Special Thanks:

My friend Deidra Riggs wrote an amazing hair piece (no pun intended) that posted on The High Calling the day of my haircut. I’m sure her work inspired me…though what I came up with cannot be blamed on her. I hope you’ll her story.

Dave Mazza at Champions Hair Salon provided me with a trauma-free, even pleasant, haircutting experience that resulted in a haircut I love. His interest was clearly in serving my needs, rather than convincing me to become hair-obsessed. I recommend him.