Lesson 11: Appearance

For the majority of my life I’ve had long hair. Not just long hair, very long, super soft, super shiny, beautiful hair. (Not to blow my own trumpet or anything). My hair was a shining beacon of what it meant to be me, it defined me – it’s what people thought of when they thought of me. Especially during uni for example where most of my peers didn’t know I existed (mostly due to my lack of Facebook and my absence during freshers week), Hope? You know the girl with hair? Oh yeah! I’ve seen her around. It was not uncommon for people to just come over to me to touch my hair because they had heard it was ridiculously soft in one spot in particular, strange but true.

When I went to Australia I cut off my hair. I told myself that it was because of the heat, that it would be more manageable, but the truth was I got to that point that every girl gets to at least once in their life – a new me a new hair cut. Every girl at some point in their life will have a drastic haircut, and it’s a really big deal, such a big change to something that defines us so much can be make or break. For me it was break, I hated it, I cried for a week, I didn’t feel like me anymore, I felt lost. Now you might be thinking “it’s only hair”, but this was hair that I had hidden behind for years, hair that was such an enormous part of my personality. When I told people back home, most of them were gutted too although they said it looked good. They didn’t understand why I did it, and neither did I, I felt immediate regret. This was softened by the fact that I donated it to charity, and I put on a brave face, but ultimately I was crushed. I was about to start a new chapter of my life in Australia and I had no idea who I was. 

Then I met people who never knew me with long hair. I walked into a jewellery store for a job interview and was immediately complimented on my hair. How could this be possible? I got the job, I made friends, and all without my long hair. People actually talked to me because they liked my personality – without my long hair to hide behind. I was still me, and as far as my new friends knew this was the same me as I had always been. Growing my hair out has been a painfully slow process, but luckily my hair grows pretty fast. The awkward sitting on the shoulder and flicking out stage was particularly fun, however I was on the over side of the world from most of the people I knew so it wasn’t too bad. When I showed my Australian friends pictures of me with long hair they said it didn’t suit me, when I showed my English friends pictures of me with short hair they missed my long hair. It’s funny isn’t it. 

For a good 75% of the time I was travelling I didn’t wear make up due to the heat, another thing I assumed would impact upon my ability to make friends. I also gained some weight. In my eyes I had horrible hair, was fat and wore no make up – I felt hideous. My excuse was that it didn’t matter because the man I loved was half way around the world, I had no one to impress, no one to look good for. I had striped myself back to a bare version of myself, and I learned that that was ok. This culture of putting pressure on everyone to look perfect all the time is ridiculous. Why not go without make up for a day? Go out in public without make up. No one is going to laugh at you and think you’re disgusting – that’s in your head, that’s what’s been drummed into you by the media. I like being imperfect. It’s liberating. 

Appearance doesn’t matter, I had the best experience of my life. I was still me, people still saw my personality, I found out who I really was with nothing to hide behind. 
Lesson learnt:

I am more than just hair.

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