This past weekend was the Knot Another Fiber Festival at the Oregon Garden in Silverton. Sarah from Knot Another Hat organized it, and I went with Lorajean from Knitted Wit, and it was amazing. More on that in another blog post (because it was epically fun), but something happened that LJ and I talked about while driving home, and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit this morning, so I wanted to get it out here.
We as women have a really hard time accepting compliments and seeing ourselves in anything but a critical light. It sucks, and it’s not fair, but it is a fact of our lives, and one that a lot of us are trying to conquer. The perfect example of this happened this past weekend, with my hair.
You see, a few weeks ago, I was in a shaggy place, hair-wise. I’ve been cutting my own hair in my bathroom for the past few years, and have been really fortunate that my hacking has netted a pretty cute hairstyle. But, lately, I’ve been more and more unhappy with the actual doing of it, and I tend to put it off for longer than I should. The last few times, once I’ve started, I’ve immediately regretted starting, and then I have to keep going, and it hasn’t been the fun times I want. (For a while, I felt like a literal superhero, thinking, if I can cut my own hair, I can do ANYTHING! That has morphed into more of a ‘what the fuck am I doing here, and why did I start this?’)
Fast forward to the beginning of April. I was getting ready for the Sheepish in Seattle trip, Stefan was out of town, and Astrid and I were both desperately in need of a haircut. I put it off and put it off, and the night before the trip, I decided to go to one of those $12-$16 haircut places. To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: “Big mistake. HUGE.” The woman cutting my hair, while super sweet and kind, did not do what I would call the best job. My hair got a wee bit jacked, was uneven in the wrong way, and was very very short in parts. I had no choice but to live with it for the weekend, so I did. I made do, and was able to hide the vast difference in lengths in the back of my hair, mostly by not actually looking at it, but I realized that I needed to go to a real, actual professional, which I did the next week. She did a great job, but had to work with the mess I came in with, so I’ve been living with a haircut that I feel is still on its way to being cute: once it grows out a bit, I think it’ll be good and where I want it to be. A work in progress, if you will.
But then I went to this fiber festival. And I saw so many fiber friends, and got so many hugs, and had so many laughs. AND I got so many compliments. On my hair. The hair that I’ve been hating on in my heart.
At first, I thanked folks, and gave them a big ole BUT… Instead of saying thank you and doing a little twirl of happiness, I added but… and told them my cheap haircut story. Sure, it was funny, and garnered laughs from my audience, but the more folks told me they liked my new haircut, the more I realized that it didn’t matter that I had this issue with it. It didn’t matter that I was carrying around some baggage associated with this haircut. I could just revel in the compliments I was being given, and take those compliments and feel better about myself. I could actually do this! I realized that we would ALL be happier and more well-adjusted if I just said, oh, thanks so much, and didn’t offer a thanks, but… As the weekend wore on, and I began to graciously accept the gift these women were giving me, the compliments and love from people who were offering it with only good intentions in their hearts, I found myself learning to better accept how I looked, and I hoped my acceptance could maybe inspire a little let’s-love-ourselves-inspiration. I mean, really, isn’t it better to embrace who we are, how we look, than to be constantly striving for this mythical future self that’s skinny enough, whose hair is perfect, who is the probably-unattainable ideal that we really don’t need to be working toward. Sure, I think it’s important that we strive for more, and that we work hard, and have goals, but body-and-hair-wise, can’t we be enough?
And this, my friends, is why Lorajean and I are going shopping for bikinis soon. Because (and excuse my language if you aren’t a fan of swearing), fuck feeling like we aren’t enough. Fuck feeling like we are lacking. Fuck feeling bad about ourselves and not being able to accept a compliment, particularly when it’s given with love and affection. Let’s all work at trying to let that shit go, and enjoy this life we have, embrace these parts of ourselves we aren’t totally happy with, because that dislike and insecurity just holds us back. I know this story seems like it’s just about a bad haircut and one woman’s journey to embracing it, but it’s really about a whole lot more.