How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful! Song of Songs 1:5
“Mommy, what’s wrong with your hair? You look like a poodle.”
I had been coveting a short haircut for many years, always scared that the curls which adorned my head would make that impossible. That those curls would make me resemble a 30 year old Annie, and nothing like the Halle Berry styles I desired.
What was uttered as a simple child-like observation after taking the pixie plunge, quickly transported me back to middle and high school. The hair that was a source of so much “teasing,” and which apparently made me resemble a poodle according to my classmates, was once again something I began to loathe.
“Mommy, all my friends have straight hair. Why can’t I have straight hair? You even straighten yours.”
Uh oh…Now, 4 years later, she has once again left me speechless. I have been called out. Dealt with. Exposed. By a 7 year old little girl who so needs to hear that her curls are beautiful, before the world convinces her otherwise.
“I just want it straight like yours.” Like “hers.” Like “theirs.” Like all the others who make her feel different. And, I get it, girl. I do. I remember watching those girls in class with straight locks as they ran their fingers through their hair. No tangles at the end of their silky strands. Able to brush their hair so it looked shiny and soft, not frizzy and frazzled like my own.
I remember all the times I made the same plea with my own mom. “Please, make it straight.” The number of times she took me to the salon in an attempt to tame the mass of tangles and ringlets I hated so much. To tame the curls that were the subject of taunts in gym class, when the running around would turn my neatly gelled curls into a heaping mess. To silence the critics that spoke words that made me believe I was not beautiful. To fulfill the longing to just look like everyone else.
The critics I still, 20 to 30 years later, try to silence with bleach, a pixie cut, and a flat iron. Yes, even the white hair that still makes me look drastically different isn’t enough to embrace the idea that my head is adorned with a heap of waves.
Even though I am reminded that it is acceptable to be unique.
Before you were born, I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5
Even though I am reminded that I am beautiful.
Even though I have a Father who tells me so…
You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead. Song of Songs 4:1
Even as I try to teach my daughter that the same heap of falling waves, and tangled curls is altogether beautiful.
To remind her that God wants her to embrace who he made her to be. To help her silence the critics who tell her she has to look a certain way. To live this out a little more in my own life, even if it means I have to leave the flat iron in the bathroom drawer on a regular basis.
To be an example of the message I want my daughter to understand and own…that she is “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The message I was afraid to embrace, and definitely too terrified to boldly state so many years ago.
So, to my former critics, and to those future hair critics who will try to decide what defines beautiful…take a look at this little girl. Take a look at her curls. The curls that some may say resemble the hair of a poodle.
I hope you get to meet her some day, and I hope she will be brave enough to stand up to her critics and say:
“You are wrong! I may look different, but I am beautiful! My Father told me so!”