Tuesday, February 17

Lent and the Looking-Glass

So, I have this hair.
It's thick, silky, reddish-blonde. Downright gorgeous, really.
The problem is, it is only this way after a LOT of work.
Another problem is, it matters too much to me.

My hair is ACTUALLY kind of wavy, not-quite-curly, frizzy and downright funny looking when left to its own devices. To avoid this, it takes about 2 hours of blow-drying and flat-ironing and hair-spraying. Which I don't really like doing (and try to do as little as possible -two, maybe three times a week). But apparently I like it more than walking around with giant frizzy-wavy locks. I have looked with envy at other women with hair that can be gorgeous without all the time and effort. Curly hair seems great - get wet, add whatever anti-frizzing but curl-holding product works for you, and voila! Asian hair dries shiny and straight (I think - I've never had it, but it looks that way). The right face shape and you can pull of the super short that doesn't need primping. I've even wished at times I could just wear a hijab...

I've been contemplating what's behind all this, as I begrudgingly stand before the mirror, brush and blower in hand. The fact is, I care what I look like. I like feeling pretty. I like being complimented. But maybe I like it too much...

I think I'm going to give up my blow-dryer for Lent. I think I've put too much stock in how I think other people see me, and how I see myself. I think I have placed too much value on externalities.

When I think about the women that I really respect, I'm pretty sure none (or very few) of them spend much time on their appearance. Some of them would be considered quite beautiful, others not so much. But, when I think about these women, it doesn't matter - to them, to me, or to most other people around them - what they look like. If I spent a couple hours a couple times a week meditating on scripture, praying, or helping those around me, would I be just as beautiful? Would I start to care less?

I'm a little nervous about this endeavour. I see the potential for me to spend just as much time in front of the mirror trying to find ways to make myself "presentable" without the tools. But the real purpose of this project is to change the definition of presentable, to "let [my] adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:4) I need to remember whose judgement matters, and what true value is.

Maybe when that happens, I can plug the dryer back in.

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