Tag Archives: self love

I’m Nervous About Cutting My Hair, and other thoughts on insecurity

I’m going to cut my hair off this weekend.


If you know me, you’re rolling your eyes like ‘Come on Alex, how much more hair could you possibly cut off?’ And you’re mostly right.

asymettrical, purple swoop, resting bitch face
asymettrical, purple swoop, morning sass

But I’ve never gone full on clippers, GI Jane style. I’ve never taken it all the way down. I’ve thought about taking it all off before, in solidarity with my mom (who has lost her hair a bunch of times due to cancer treatment), and also as a way to just let everything go and reset. And I’m finally gonna do it, as a way to help transition to this whole no shampoo thing (furthering my natural beauty journey which you can read about here and also here.)

But I’m nervous.


A strangely large amount of people have told me that I’m ‘so brave’ for cutting my hair short. That they themselves could never do that, they themselves aren’t ‘brave enough.’ But cutting my hair wasn’t an act of courage.  In fact,  like a lot of folks, it was an act of desperation. When my best friend from high school slept with my then boyfriend (so cliche, so inconsiderate) about 1/2 way through college, I was heartbroken and stunned and completely unsure about the world. And I wanted to be a different person. And so I switched out my facial piercing, got a new tattoo, and cut my hair off. It was a beginning, and an end, and a statement. It didn’t feel brave.


And still, as I grew into that person with shorter hair, that person who got past a betrayal and kept loving the people that helped and found newer and better passions, I’ve still never felt that short hair makes me brave. My mom is brave, facing a seemingly endless amount of treatment and still yearning to move past cancer and live her life to the fullest. People who risk their lives to save others are brave. People who stand up to injustice are brave. People who face the unknown with dignity and hope are brave. All I do is pay Marika, the little old Greek lady who gave me my first hair cut and continues to put up with my crazy requests, to cut some hairs on my head into sassy shapes.


But quite frankly, I am scared about cutting my hair really short all over. And it’s for a kind of embarrassing reason. It’s because I’m afraid I won’t be pretty. And actually, I’m pretty sure that I’m not pretty already, but I feel like this is going to make it worse.

To be clear, this is not a pity party and I’m not sharing these thoughts to garner supportive comments. I don’t think I’m gross or ugly, and most days I am satisfied with my appearance. And I’m lucky enough that I have lots of people in my life who love me and tell me I am beautiful and on lots of days, thankfully, I believe them. I’m talking about something very specific. ‘Pretty’ is glamour, it’s pink and it’s quiet. Pretty is Betty Draper with her tiny waist and full skirt, and the perfect shade of lipstick. Pretty is my mother going to work when I was a kid, dressed chicly in all black, putting lipstick on with a lip brush, hair curled with a curling iron and a little hairspray. Pretty is how ballet made me feel, pink tights and tutus and fingers held just so. When I say pretty I mean feminine, perfect makeup and a floral summer dress. I mean princess-y. I mean delicate. I mean put together. I mean pretty.

she's like a doll. an ice queen, kinda soulless doll...
she’s like a doll. an ice queen, kinda soulless doll…

And that kind of beauty is something that I’ve always felt was out of my reach. I can do sexy and sassy, short hair that’s sometimes fun colors and tattoos and loud style. When my body is in a yoga pose or peddling me up an urban hill, I’m especially happy with it, grateful for it’s strength and resilience. But we can’t be all things, and I always got the sense that I was a little too loud and a little too un-still and a little too creative for pretty. Because pretty comes with a catch. Can’t be too loud, pretty girls are quite. Can’t be sweaty, pretty girls stay still. Can’t be too funny, pretty girls aren’t in the spot light (unless they are staying still to be admired.) Can’t be too unique, pretty has rules.


And I know that this is all nonsense. I personally know plenty of pretty girls that are brash and funny, and pretty girls that are smart as a whip, and pretty girls with tattoos and pretty girls with long and short hair and pretty girls that are different shapes and different shades. Because real life defies what they try to make us believe.

But sometimes I still wish I was the kind of girl who effortlessly looked put together, who could wear super frilly dresses and lipstick without feeling like I was trying to hard. And I’ll bet some of those girls feel like me, wanting something different or looking in the mirror and picking apart things that are perfect. Because we are bombarded with images of these kinds of girls everyday, and they taunt us with their airbrushed perfection. Because we all learn lessons as little girls about how to act, about what is important for us, and the concept of ‘pretty’ is high on the list. Because our culture doesn’t work to reassure us that we are perfect as we are, it undermines us and feeds our insecurity and sells us snake oil promising that just one more product will transform us into the swan/princess/super model/super woman.


And yet. Fuck that. Because I am who I am, and I have spent lots of time (especially after that first major hair cut) working to be a person I am proud of, and working to love myself in this body and in my own skin. And I’ve worked hard to let other people love me, despite the fact that I’m not perfect, despite the fact that I’m kind of a lot and despite the fact that I’m not always feminine or ‘girly’. And my work isn’t over. We should all be doing this work, even though it’s never ending, because we have to set a good example for each other and for the next group of girls growing up. My best friend just gave birth (I’m so effing proud of her, in awe actually) and her little sugar bean is perfect. And I don’t want sugar bean to grow up worrying about being pretty. I want to teach her how to love herself, how to work hard to achieve goals, how to stand up for what she believes in and how to feel pride in herself for more than just her outward appearance. I want to teach her about empathy and self-love and feminism, and I can’t do that if I don’t keep trying to be a living example.

lesson #1
lesson #1

So it’s all gonna go. And then no more shampoo. And no more conditioner. And I’ll let you know how the natural remedies work out. And if I cry. And I’ll hopefully remind us all, myself included, that it’s just hair. It will grow back. Everything in life is only for now. It’s not that this stuff isn’t hard, or that these issues aren’t real, because they are. The pressure is real, and so is the shame, and it’s ok to have all the feels. The last thing any of us need is to feel guilty about wanting to feel beautiful. So I’m trying to get over my embarrassment (thus the large amount of sharing), own my insecurity, and then cut my hair anyway. And if it turns out that it does make me less pretty, well I mean, that’s not a tragedy. I can grow the swoop back. My friends and family and framily will still love me. The world will continue to spin. I do believe that if we can face some of our fears regarding our bodies and our personal beauty, we should try. Because if we can learn to love our whole entire selves, we can better love each other, and then we can all work together to dismantle the system that teaches us that we don’t deserve love unless our lipstick is perfect.



V-Day Love

This post is just to say Happy Valentine’s. Check out VDay.org, celebrate love in all it’s forms, and first and foremost love and be kind to yourself.

Here are some of my favorite words about love by e e cummings:


And here is a lovely Mary Oliver quote shared by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls:
And finally, here is a message from someone important in all of our lives:
hughGifHi iloveyouhughGIF happyvdayHUGHGIF

Chris Christie: A Lesson In Fat Shaming

This week, Governor Chris Christie has been embroiled in a scandal involving the GW bridge and political payback.

Bad news bears.
Bad news bears.

You can learn about it from Jon Stewart:

Or, listen to Rachel Maddow take a crack at it, and swoon at how effing smart she is.  I’m not a political journalist or philosopher so I won’t really comment on this scandal. I’m not shocked that this brash, bullying guy is implicated in a revenge scandal. It is New Jersey, after all. But there is another aspect about the story that makes me kinda sad.

Chris with Obams (!)
Chris with Obams (!)

Chris Christie is a big guy. In fact, I’ve often used the word huge to describe him. He’s fat. When you see him next to the President, the size difference is almost disconcerting. He’s talked openly about his struggle with diets, and even had weight loss surgery last year. The fact of his size hasn’t slowed down his career much, but he has payed a steep price.

Typical Post trash.
Typical Post trash.


Even TIME magazine. I mean, come on folks!
Even TIME magazine. I mean, come on folks!

It’s still true and often pointed out that being fat is the last largely acceptable reason to taunt, shame, and harass people. As a culture we love to couch our hatred of large bodies in concern, claiming that we care about people’s health. This is categorically untrue since skinny people can also be seriously unhealthy and since the debate about universal health care stands where it does. We don’t want to see fat people as people, it’s easier to blame them for bad habits or addictive personalities and that way they can be ostracized where we don’t have to see them. Because it is, mostly, about aesthetics.

In the wake of ‘BridgeGate’ this week (what a dumb fucking name) a cartoon started to make the rounds on my NewsFeed. I’m not going to post it here because it makes me too sad. Google it. It features the Governor, sitting naked on the roadway of the GW bridge, with his knees hugged into his chest, blocking traffic. The whole huge mass of his body, causing the back up. And it just made me angry. Because joking about his body takes away from whatever the real story is. And disrespecting him in this way is childish and mean. There are lots of legit reasons to dislike and ridicule him, like his bullish aggressive personality or his conservative policies. We don’t have to resort to body shaming. This is a tactic we usually reserve for females who are powerful or famous, but since he is fat we feel his body is also ours to critique. We have all been guilty of making these judgments at one time or another. But the basic truth is that not everyone wants to eat organic and healthy. Not everyone enjoys exercising at the gym or yoga or pole dancing or playing sports, and not everyone wants to focus on their heart rate or aerobic endurance. Not everyone who is heavy by cultural standards is trying to lose weight. And those people are allowed to live their lives however they want. They are allowed to own their choices, and they deserve to be respected in their bodies. I hope we can all stop giving in to our inner school-bus-bullies, make room within ourselves and within our culture for folks to feel beautiful and worthy no matter what their size, and mostly to stop focusing on other bodies, and start focusing on ourselves. Because loving yourself is already the most difficult and most rewarding life-long journey, and we don’t have time to waste on the pettiness of casual judgments.

selflove       selfLoveFortune