I have started to become convicted lately about the amount of time and thought I give to my outward appearance. I say that carefully, though, because I do really think outward appearance is important. I know our kids appreciate it when they don't have to be embarrassed by their mothers' appearances and our husbands sure appreciate the effort we put into looking nice, even after decades of marriage. When they have seen us post-op or hanging over the toilet bowl, puking our guts out, they kind of need some nice pictures to balance out those scenes in their memory banks! I don't think we do Christianity any favors, either, when we go around looking dowdy. In some groups, it seems that spirituality is directly connected to how frowsy your hair is, how little make-up you wear, and how shapeless your clothing hangs!
But a couple of weeks ago when I was doing some clothing shopping, I started to feel some twinges of guilt. That was unusual because the only guilt I normally feel when it comes to shopping is over the money I spend. And that wasn't even an issue this time. But I just felt bad, like there were more important things I should be doing with my time (yeah, like educating my children!). And then yesterday I spent all morning at the beautician's and the rest of the day obsessing about my hair and I felt even more guilty. This isn't right. I don't spend half this time worried about my insides - what is going on spiritually, how my relationship with Christ is, but I sure am worried about the outside! That said, though, I am going to spend the rest of this blog post talking about my hair!
My hair has always been a problem. It's curly and has a mind of its own. I have always admired women with smooth, sleek hair-dos, knowing I'll never have one. One of my earliest memories has to do with my hair. I was less than two years old and I have a distinct memory of my mom getting frustrated because she couldn't make a barrette stay in my hair - it was too fine. And I have plenty of memories of Mom making me stand in front of the dining room mirror before school as she painfully brushed out my tangles. I didn't care. I'd go to school looking like that if it meant I didn't have to comb through the tangles! I also recall somewhere around 6th grade getting more of an interest in my hair and asking my mom for a can of hairspray. She was thrilled and immediately bought me a can of AquaNet. She was less than thrilled when I used the hairspray with a hotbrush and she had to cut my hair out of the brush. I think she threatened something about no hairspray for the rest of my life!
I have a cousin named Kim, who was just a month older than me (but I came along first, because she didn't get adopted until she was 2 months old!). We spent much of our childhood together. Frequently, Grandma sewed us matching dresses and of course, she couldn't buy one thing for one and not for the other, so anything one of us had, the other did, too. Kim and I were the only granddaughters on that side of the family, so Grandma had a lot of fun dressing us up. Often, Kim went to church with us and my mom has this picture in one of the albums: It's a summer day and Kim and I are standing in front of the garage, ready to go to church. Everything on us matches, from our sandles, to our dresses, our Bible cases, and even the yarn ties on our pony tails! She was adopted from Germany so we didn't share any physical similarities, except, we both did have blond hair and blue eyes. But in this picture, Kim's pony tails hung nicely - smooth and straight. Mine look like I had just stuck my finger in an electrical socket. Apparently, it was very humid that day and it showed in my hair, even at that young age! I have been fighting the frizzies all my life, as my mom has.
I have been battling this head of hair all my life. My hair color turned brown (I used to say it was the color of a bowel movement - I was so disgusting!) around junior high. My mom's had done the same thing. It's happening to my boys, too. They all started out blonde, but will be brunette before adulthood. Well, Will and David already are. And I really have no problem with brown hair. It's fine - very ordinary. As the years went on, new products came out and I managed to control the frizz on all but the most humid and rainy of days. I discovered that keeping a few layers in helps, too. Four pregnancies did a lot for my hair. It's not nearly so curly as it used to be.
But then I started turning gray and that has opened up an unbelievably frustrating chapter in the history of my hair. I found my first gray hair 10 yrs ago. Apparently it was lonely, because it encouraged all the other hair around it to also turn gray and they have launched a mutinous assault on my head ever since, taking over more and more territory. I have given serious consideration from time to time of just surrendering and letting the gray happen. But - I just can't. Not yet. I'm only 38. And I see women who have given up the fight and they look old. And I don't want to look old yet. I used to say I'd go gray when I had my first grandchild. That's what my grandma did. She dyed her hair jet black when it started to go gray. The day I was born she quit, so we have a number of pictures in the album of her with half white and half black hair. It's a little freaky looking, actually. But I am thinking (hoping) that grandparenthood is quite a ways off yet. I don't think I can keep up this fight until then. But I've got to be at least in my mid forties, I would think, before surrendering. Besides, it isn't just the gray. The colored hair around the gray seems to loose its shine and looks very dull and flat.
So, about 4 years ago I started getting highlights in order to disguise the gray. I also started getting my hair chemically straightened to fight the frizz. That works well, by the way. But it's very hard on your hair. I quit last summer when a beautician burned off all the hair around the front of my face while doing it. I'm still growing that out. I went to one beautician for awhile but soon I realized that her highlights had turned me into a blond. I never wanted to be blond. I just wanted to cover the gray! So I started trying some other places and I just was never really happy with results. I wanted someone to sit down with me, look at my hair and tell me what needed to be done. I also didn't want to spend a bunch of money doing so.
One day, a year ago, I convinced my girlfriend to put in highlights for me at home. It wasn't her fault, but my hair turned orange. Before the day was over, my hair had been dyed 3 times! I decided home jobs weren't worth the money they saved! So then, I went to an Aveda salon. The gal there ended up dying my hair brown and then putting in blond highlights to break it up. Within two visits, I spent a week's salary. I just can't do that! But I really did like the Aveda salon and they have great hair products, some of which I still use. So, I started going to Fantastic Sam's and they are reasonably priced and I had a gal I liked (even though her own hair was blue). But she quit and I'm kind of back to square one now.
So yesterday I went to a beauty school. I heard their ad on the radio and thought, "Why not?" Yeah, well now I know 'why not'! Because she was a student she didn't feel comfortable giving me advice on my hair. She wanted me to tell her what to do. And she was from the Ukraine so I could only understand about every 3rd word she said. I asked her to wax my brows and most of them are gone now. Then, she started plucking at them! The whole reason I get my brows waxed is because I object to the idea of being plucked. It hurts! Of course, the up side is that I won't need to get my brows waxed for oh, probably three years now! And my hair - it's blond again. I don't want to be a blond! I want to be a brunette with blond highlights that cover up my gray! Or red highlights. Or black highlighs. Anything to cover the gray - I don't care!
So I'm a little frustrated. I need advice on where to go. I want to find a beautician who will sit with me, give me advice on my hair, look at what would suit my skin tone the best, and then not charge me several hundred dollars for the process. I'm willing to pay, but I just can't afford to pay what Aveda charged. I'm obsessing, I know.
The stylist handed me a couple of hair magazines to look through while she did her thing on my hair because it's a time consuming process. They were filled with American royalty (Hollywood stars) and how they do their hair. I just found myself getting more and more irritated as I flipped through the magazine. Who cares how some overpaid starlet does her hair? I kept thinking of the book of Ecclesiastes where King Solomon proclaims that, "It's all vanity!" in regards to so many of our pursuits.
And I don't want this to be my life. I want to look nice but I don't want to spend hours upon hours shopping for the right clothes and make-up. I want decent looking hair but I don't want to spend all this time that I do thinking on it and trying to find the right stylist. A day is going to come where none of it will matter, anyway. My hair will be thin and white and I'll spend my days in support hose and orthopaedic shoes. What will matter then is how I cultivated the inside. Did I grow beautiful in the Lord? Do others see His light shining through my (rheumy, by then) blue eyes and hear His love every time I open my mouth? That's something that starts now, not just later on in life, when the outside of the flower has faded. I don't want my life to be spent pursing vanity.
But in the meantime, ahem, if you are knowledgeable of any good stylists in the Des Moines metro...just slip me the number! Thanks!
Ben took that picture of me yesterday. Too blond. I was, however, impressed with his picture taking skills. He has been asking for a camera for his upcoming birthday, so maybe we'll have to make that happen!