The history of why I chopped off my hair, even though some people think God doesn’t like it.

17 Sep

Hair is a really big deal. People cut it off and let it grow for so many reasons: vanity, to donate to charity, convenience, comfort, and religion. Some people shave their head to honor God, some people don’t cut their hair to honor God, and some people cover their hair with scarves to honor God. The interesting thing about Christianity is that people do all three of those things to honor God, depending on what they believe.

If you’d like to know, I believe that the scriptures that many people interpret to mean that a woman must not cut her hair actually mean several things. I believe these things based on what I’ve studied about language and history, and what I feel based on thought and prayer. 1) A woman should cover her head with cloth when praying or prophesying to distinguish herself from pagan women (who removed their veils in defiance of men and in worship of Dionysus.) 2) A woman shouldn’t shave her head (as was custom for the women who worshiped Dionysus to do at the time,) as she would be seen as pagan and that would dishonor God. 3) A woman should not rebel against her husband by presenting herself in a masculine way, or rebel against God by not embracing the femininity He gave her (cutting her hair short would be an easy and apparent way to do that.)

That said, I believe that the first two things, like many of the Biblical teachings (such as advising women not to speak in church, which was for their safety, not because God didn’t like it,) were culturally relevant, and used to distinguish people who believed in what we now call the Christian God from those who worshiped anyone or anything else, and were even practical self preservation tools. I believe that they can still be relevant today, based on your culture, your intentions, your relationship with your spouse, and should definitely be obeyed out of respect if you’re visiting a different culture in which they’re the norm. However, the issue of covering my head or cutting my hair is not relevant to me now. My culture no longer associates short hair with paganism, I don’t cut my hair short in defiance of God’s role for me as a woman our out of any kind of rebellious feelings, I considered what my husband thought about short hair before cutting my own (he absolutely loves it, and finds it beautiful and feminine on me,) and (with the exception of when I was young, before I developed a womanly body, and had short hair) I have not yet heard anyone say that I look masculine, or mistake me for a man.

Let me stop here and say that I respect and admire women who do or don’t cut their hair, or who wear veils or other head coverings in honor of their religion and their god, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or identify with any other religion. I think Mother Teresa said it well when she said that “a Christian should try to be a good Christian, a Muslim should try to be a good Muslim, a Hindu should try to be a good Hindu.” Much of that comes from our intentions and our own personal relationship with God. If your intention is to rebel against God or your spouse by shaving your head, then it’s not right that you shave your head, at least not until that spirit of rebellion is gone. It’s not my intention to demean anyone who is doing what they believe is right and good.

I have had long hair, and I have loved long hair. When Tom and I got married, my hair was the longest it had been in years. I’ve always been adventurous with my hairstyles, and I wanted to see what it would be like to have long hair as a woman (rather than the long hair I had as a young child.) I thought it would look pretty in our wedding pictures, and Tom wanted to see what it looked like long.

My long hair in all its glory! It was curled here, as I was getting ready for the ceremony, which took quite a bit of length away. Uncurled, my hair reached the middle of my back.

Tom thought my long hair was beautiful, and especially loved that I curled it for the wedding, because my hair is naturally wavy and a little curly. During our engagement, though, I couldn’t help noticing the severe scalp pain I experienced any time I put my hair up, and even when it was down, because my hair was so heavy. Soon, I was diagnosed with fibro, and all those weird pains I had started making sense, including the scalp pain. I quickly learned that low, loose ponytails or a few clips on the side of my head were about as much as I could take, otherwise the pain and headaches were so bad they literally made me cry. I still wanted to grow it out, but I started to seriously think about cutting it after the wedding. About halfway into the growing out process, the thought occurred to me to donate my hair to Locks of Love. They take healthy human hair and created wigs for children who have lost their hair due to illness. My grandmother died a couple of years before I got married from lung cancer, and since we were already doing things in honor of my deceased grandparents at the wedding, I thought donating my hair afterward would be an extra way to honor her and those who had survived the horrors of cancer and cancer treatment, along with honoring my own body by alleviating the pain my hair caused. (Little did we know that my mother would soon go through cancer treatment, and that I would discover precancerous cells of my own.) When I told Tom what I wanted to do and why, he was really supportive. I think he was a little tentative, because he had never seen what my hair looked like any shorter than almost shoulder length (though I’d had a pixie cut in junior high and high school,) but he assured me he thought that I would look beautiful with short hair, and he understood the amount of pain I had been in. I assured him that if he hated it, my hair grows really fast! I just wouldn’t be able to grow it as long as it had been.

The closer it got to cutting my hair, the more excited we both got about donating it. I had to have at least twelve inches to donate, and by the day of our wedding I had enough hair that I would need to cut it to a chin length bob in order to donate the rest. Two days after our wedding, I went down the street, told the stylist what I wanted to do, and they were happy to do it. I started with a really simple straight bob, which I knew from experience wasn’t my favorite haircut, but just in case I wanted to grow it out I knew it would be easy to do from that length and cut. The instant that hair fell from my head, I could tell that the pain I had experienced over the past couple of years wouldn’t be as severe. My head felt so light! It looked like this:

When I came home, Tom’s eyes lit up and he got this huge smile on his face. He wouldn’t stop talking about how much he liked it during the honeymoon, so I told him I’d like to have it styled a little differently (at an angle,) and he said he thought that would look cool. I’ll never forget the series of cuts I got after that, because every time I came home, he would say that he didn’t think it could get any cuter until he saw the next cut! I went from an angled bob, which I kept for quite a while, then an asymmetrical bob inspired by Selma Blair, and then, eventually, I let it grow again. It got nearly to my shoulders, and I was reminded of that terrible pain again. It was difficult to find a way to keep my hair out of my eyes without causing migraines and stabbing scalp pain. So, finally, after a series of more short cuts, I decided to do something I’d been wanting to do for a very long time. When I say that, I mean that I’ve wanted hair like this since I was a young kid, but no one ever had the guts to cut it for me.

I wanted a mohawk.

Yep, I said it. I wanted a mohawk. Now, I have to say that I didn’t want the kind of mohawk you douse in Elmer’s glue and spike to the heavens. They look cool, but that style would look pretty dumb on me. I wanted the kinds of mohawks you see in pictures of Native Americans, or on episodes of “So You Think You Can Dance” when Sonya Tayeh would choreograph routines. I knew that I couldn’t stand the top of my hair to be that long, though, so I started looking up pictures of ‘flophawks,’ and found some cuts that were short enough to suit my fibro needs, but feminine enough that I wouldn’t look like a “SLC Punks” poser. My friend Paige was kind enough to give me my first cut. She was terrified I would hate it, and therefore hate her, but I convinced her that everything would be fine. She cut it a little longer than what I asked for – just in case – and I knew immediately that I would have this haircut, or a version of it, for a very, very long time. Tom came with me to her and her husband’s house for the whole process, and, just as I was getting a little nervous  halfway through the cut, I looked over to see that same look he had on his face when I came home from donating my hair. The fact that he liked it reassured me that I was doing a good thing, and I couldn’t be happier.

This is the most recent picture of me, taken two days ago. I decided to try a poufy mohawk style for our double date that night! (Also, I just bought that awesome pillow from my friend Stephanie of Longoria Studios – isn’t it pretty?!)

Honestly, guys, I feel blessed by this hair. I’ve since cut it a little shorter, and started cutting it myself (it’s a pretty easy haircut to maintain,) and I’ve never felt more free. My head hurts the least it ever has, and I get compliments on my hair every single day I go out in public. I feel beautiful, and my hair has even helped me with some other insecurities I have. Women see my hair and tell me stories of chemotherapy, hair loss, and I’ve even had some say that my hair may just be the inspiration they need to cut theirs. Men see my hair and comment on how classy it looks, and tell me stories about how they’ve lovingly cut their wife’s hair. I can count on one hand the few slightly negative comments I’ve received, but in the end I always try to respond with a smile, because I know that this is not for everyone. It is for me, though, and now it’s even become trendy. I can see myself as an old woman, though, long after this trend has worn off, wearing this haircut proudly and with thanks for all the good it’s done.

Gentle hugs,

Chels

P.S. – This article explains much more eloquently and in depth what I feel about what the Bible says about women and their hair, if you’re interested in doing some research, too. If you have a story you’d like to share about you and your hair, please comment below! I would love to hear your story.

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2 Responses to “The history of why I chopped off my hair, even though some people think God doesn’t like it.”

  1. Monique"s FM/CFS Blog October 10, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Thanks for sharing your story. I now it was hard for me to share mine and it is awesome to see that you to have found some power in this sometimes powerless feeling condition that we have. Gently hugs sent your way… Thanks…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Get your short on – how hair can change a life | Chelsea, like England - April 10, 2013

    […] while back, I wrote about why I decided to cut my hair very, very short. (I also recently dyed it purple, but that’s a different story.) Since I’ve made the […]

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