The Break Up

Most of the women I know have a love/hate relationship with their hair. I have friends who keep the same style they have had for twenty years (and if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it). But they still have bad hair days too. Some days, they wish they could do something different. 

Then, I have friends like me, who are always changing their hair. I don’t know if their reason is because they like the variety and freedom to choose, or if they have damaged their hair so much they are continually trying to make it better. These are probably both of my reasons. I do like variety and that is why I like my hair long. I love the many different things I can do with long hair.

But last month, I was at a breaking point with my hair. I was tired of seeing damage when I had tried to get my hair healthy. I was tired of cleaning hair from my drain.  I was tired of my hair strangling me at night when I slept and tired of braiding it so it wouldn’t strangle me. Sure, I could cut it, but no matter how many inches I took off, I would still have the problem of my dark roots growing out and highlighting my hair each month to keep up the blonde style.

I have been living my life organically this year, and I even tried a hair color product that I purchased online which claimed to be a natural, plant-based color with no ammonia or harsh chemicals. When my hairstylist Daisy, applied it for me, we both noticed over a few months’ time that my hair was breaking. We realized this product was hurting my hair more than the products she had used. I really wished I could just start over… from the root. 

So, I decided to break up with my hair. 

At first, I thought of a real short hair style, but knew I’d have the problem of my dark roots growing out while still having some of the color on the rest of my hair… and, I started thinking a little deeper. I asked myself, “why is hair such a big deal?” Why do we put such importance on our hair? As a woman, I empathized with other women who have issues with their hair or… who don’t HAVE hair. 

I thought of my friend Chasity, who has battled with cancer and had been undergoing treatment which caused her hair to fall out. I admired Chasity’s hair more than any other woman I have known. It was long, dark and straight. So beautiful and healthy. I don’t think she ever put color on her hair. She didn’t have to – it was so beautiful. For her to lose her hair was such a big deal to me. I ached for her, knowing that her hair was one of her many physical attributes. But how did she feel about it? 

When you are fighting for your life, maybe hair isn’t such a big deal. And Chasity and I are both women of deep faith. We want our focus to be on the things of the Lord and not worldly treasures. So, knowing her heart, I know that she was probably fine about losing her hair, and doing what it took to save her life, following as God leads her. 

But, I still couldn’t help thinking about our flesh that sometimes surfaces and what she must have felt as a woman – a woman with such beautiful hair, to see it falling out. But, I would think that isn’t so much about vanity as it is staring death in the face. Her hair dying. I could never know what emotions my dear friend or any woman faces in that aspect. 

But, I did want to share in part of the experience with my friend. I wanted to shave my head and grow my hair back with her. She would never ask me to. We live four hours away from each other, but we are like sisters, though we don’t see each other often. That still doesn’t change my love for my friend and wanting to share with her in her fight. The fight is the Lord’s, and I know Chasity is going to be okay. I fight for her on my knees. I fight for others who are battling this disease, on my knees. That’s the only part of this fight that I know. I could never know the emotions, the pain, and the fear of what survivors face as they are going through their journey. 

Chasity doesn’t speak about it much because she refuses to give the disease any power over her life. So I just keep praying. And now… I have no hair. 

To do something so drastic and so ‘unlike me’ would take prayer and a plan. I wasn’t a woman who burned her bra or wore face jewelry, or dyed her hair purple; so for this conservative, long haired lady to shave her head would be cause for my friends to be concerned. I didn’t want people to mistake my reasons and think I had cancer. So I enlisted the help of Daisy to not only do the shave, but talk me through the things I would need to know.

I decided if I was going to pull off the look, I would need to feminize my style more than usual. In my youth, I was very girly and wore make up and clothes that matched my personality, but as I got older, I liked the more natural look and stopped wearing foundation and powder on my face. I wear organic eyeshadow, mascara and lip color when I want to wear makeup, but I would go without it a lot because my horses don’t care if I wear makeup or not and I mostly would wear jeans and hoodies.

But without hair, I just may need to get some organic eyebrow pencil and eyeliner too. 

Why play up my femininity more? Because as I prayed about this journey, I searched scripture for God’s approval. The only thing I found about hair was mostly a cultural thing that would not have anything to do with my reasons for shaving my head. From all that I read, I knew that God didn’t care about my hair so much as He cared about my heart. He cared that I love myself as a woman. I read scripture warning against changing our appearance to look like the opposite sex, and knowing I wasn’t doing it for that reason; I wanted to add more make up, and earrings and more feminine clothes so that I do not give off that impression. 

Daisy and I met at the coffee shop in Murray, to discuss the plan. While waiting for her, I noticed women with very short hair, and I wondered how mine will look growing back out. Then saw young girls sitting at a table. They looked college-age, and must be meeting to study.

One had medium length hair pulled in a ponytail.  I wondered if she felt good about her hair or if she always pulled it back, sort of disheveled just to get it out the way. The other had long blonde hair, very enviable. The one with the short hair, seemed the most confident.

I have always had thin, fine hair, and to be honest, I have no idea what color it truly us anymore. I last saw my virgin hair when I was 13. But having colored or highlighted for the last 40 years, I don’t know if it would be darker than it was at 13 or even how much gray I actually have now. I wanted to find out.

My thoughts on going bald at my age would be different than someone who doesn’t have bags under their eyes, or wrinkles. Young women have beautiful faces, so this was a lot to think about, though I had already made up my mind. After all, it’s just hair and I wanted to prove to myself that my hair does not define me. 

Daisy was on board with my idea only because she knew this wasn’t a whim and that I had thought it through. There were many reasons. I wanted to experience the emotions other women have gone through, experience the humbling and humility aspect of this in a positive way – not a degrading way or to be ashamed. 

We went wig shopping, because I wanted that option as ‘back up’ and also to wear at church until it was clear to everyone that I was not sick, and what I am doing. We had to drive an hour away to find a wig store, but even so, it was geared more for African American women and there was nothing that looked good on me. I admire my African American sisters who can wear any style or color of wig and even can go bald, beautifully. With my complexion and style, I had to choose carefully. I didn’t want this meaningful project to be taken as ‘wild’ or careless. We did have fun though, Daisy tried on a few wigs herself, but I ended up ordering one online.

The next step was telling my husband. Of course he loves my hair long, but he is supportive no matter what I want to do to my hair. This was a bit different, yes, but as he heard my reasons, he supported me. I also think a little part of him might have thought I wouldn’t go through with it. 

When I privately posted on Facebook to a small group of ladies in a bible study group, a few of my friends stayed quiet when I told of what I was doing. I am sure they didn’t know what to think, but eventually, I received ore support. I also started a page called Being Bold Being Bald. I started with a video about why I was doing it. Then I changed my emoji to a bald emoji and said, “Coming soon.” 

The BBBB page is open to anyone, but I wanted my personal Facebook friends to LIKE the page if they wanted to follow this journey with me because I won’t post my baldness or my journey on my personal Facebook because I know many friends who are busy and who quickly scroll through their newsfeed, and would miss the “why.” They might come up with their own perceptions. I didn’t want that. So on my personal Facebook wall, I only posted the video telling of what I was doing and the reasons behind it, and I told my friends if they want to follow, to go to the 4B page and LIKE it, to follow. 

About 75 of my friends decided to follow. On the day to brave the shave, Daisy and I took a video of her shaving my head and I posted it on the 4B page. And for Jen’s VUE readers, I have attached the YouTube link of the video at the end of this article.

I have already experienced touching moments, as well as comical. Stay tuned to Jen’s VUE for this ongoing story as I plan to talk with other women about their hair and talk with cancer survivors who have experience not having hair. I am excited about this journey and who God places in my path.

Watch the Video Here:

https://youtu.be/eZPZPD8cIzs

jenjeffreybillington@gmail.com

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