The Job of a Woman’s Hair


Abby Norman -Being True4

Gimme head with hair

Long beautiful hair

Shining, gleaming,

Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair

When I was 15, I chopped off all my hair. Like really chopped it off. With one point of my finger into the glamorous book of choices at the hair salon, I went from medium, ponytail-length to a pixie. I hadn’t even told anyone. I just went for it. I loved it, and kept the same short haircut until I realized it would be a pain to maintain in college. I have gone back to that haircut a few times in my life. Each time I love it just the same, but that first time I really needed it. I really needed the change.

My sister was the one with the beautiful hair. Jill had long hair, well past her waist, thick and shiny. My mom trimmed it about every six weeks, my sister sitting on top of the washing machine. The girls in the cosmetology program at our school used to sort through her hair and rave about the lack of split ends. She won best hair in her Senior Yearbook. She was the sister with the long, beautiful locks. When we got to the same high school, I decided to solidify that distinction. I went for the big chop.

My oldest daughter didn’t have anything more than peach fuzz for well beyond a year. When her hair finally grew in it was thick and red and wavy. It was so beautiful people assumed I curled it. Some asked me if it was dyed. She came home from pre-k petting herself. “My hair is SO beautiful!” And it was. It is. Her hair is so beautiful.

My little one came out with a full head. I washed it in my bathroom sink before her very first day at church and much to my surprise, when it dried, it stood up straight like the crown of a rooster reddish and tall. We called her Rooster-head for months. Her baby mohawk got a lot of attention in my hipster-heavy neighborhood. A couple of dads asked me how they could get their babies’ hair to stand up like that. I shrugged my shoulders. This was simply the way it grew out of her head. I couldn’t control it if I tried. She is my wild card. I gave up trying to control her before she was born.

I have heard, more than once, a woman’s hair referred to as her glory. Always the assumption is that when it is long, it is beautiful. Hair can be beautiful, if we want it to be. Hair can be long and beautiful. But that isn’t the only thing hair has to be. It can be short and spiky, soft and fuzy, purple and sassy. Just like the people it grows out of.

For a long time I thought hair had to be beautiful; that it was the job of hair. For a long time I thought that women had to be beautiful, that being beautiful was the job of women. But it isn’t. Being beautiful is just one way to be. It isn’t actually our job. We can look smart or sassy or interesting or strong. We can look any way we want to look, even if it isn’t beautiful.

This concept was introduced to me when I was lamenting the way I looked in my glasses. I loved my glasses. I thought I looked interesting and fun and sassy and really just like me. But I didn’t think I looked beautiful. My friend looked at me like I was crazy. “You don’t always have to be pretty, Abby. There are other choices you can make. Isn’t interesting or sassy or fun more you anyway?”

It is. It is more me.

My kids can have any kind of hair they want, because they can BE anything they want.

Me too. I get to be more than just beautiful.

Since the big chop in high school, I have made every decision you can make with hair. Long, short, blonde, purple, back to brown. I have worn it long and flowing and tied tight on the top of my head. It isn’t all beautiful, but it is all me. I am so much more than beautiful. I can be anything I want.

Being true to myself. THAT is my job.