Haircuts can carry a lot of symbolism. Usually mine are nothing more than a trim, but this chop is entirely liberating.
I’ve kept my hair long for several years now. Recently, it’s become a literal and figurative weight on my shoulders. I’ve relied on it to be my security blanket for far too long.
The #MeToo Movement has been incredibly eye opening to me. The sheer volume of sexual misconduct men and women have experienced both professionally and privately should astound me. Unfortunately, I’m more jarred by how unsurprising it is.
In my professional life, I’ve experienced men’s inappropriate conduct more times than I can count. I will forever feel the scars from working at a Christian non-profit organization… a place that, by definition, should have been safe. I’ll always hold deep regret for my complicity and tolerance.
I was in a leadership position at the time. I remember being alone in a conference room with my superior. I remember being completely blindsided by how quickly a professional conversation turned sexual. I listened as he detailed and complained about his sex life with his wife. Eventually, the conversation was directed at me. He asked if I understood why foreplay is important.
In one meeting, he asked me if I was a virgin.
I’ll never forget being at an art museum waiting for a project to be complete at a nearby printing center. The words of his text message burned through the screen like a brand. “Don’t go running around there naked, people might think you’re a work of art.”
I’ll always remember being home sick a month after getting married to my sweetheart. Even off the clock, I couldn’t seem to escape it. I answered a phone call to help with an issue at work. He told me he was willing to bet I only stayed home from work that day to have sex with my new husband.
I’ll always remember the way my heart pounded when he walked by me in the hallway and told me my hot pink shirt was reflective of how hot I was.
I’ve kept these stories tucked deep in my memory for years now. I was afraid of reporting it because of what it could do to my career and rapport with other men. The pressure I felt to keep the peace was greater than the pressure to hold the organization accountable. I’ll always regret my lack of action. I fear other women have experienced harassment because I did not raise my voice.
Since then, I still wind up in the crossfire of inappropriate comments. How is it that years long regret isn’t enough for me to make a change? Regardless, I fear repercussions of shaking up a male dominated world. It isn’t me that should have to change. “If not now, then when?” echoes in my head, and I’m finally finding my voice.
To the men who say they were joking, to the men who think they have some right to define what’s sexy for another woman, to the men stuck in an old school mentality of what is acceptable, I say times have changed and crude comments will not be tolerated. To the women stripping others of their worth with a single glance, I remind them the ugliness they see is more a reflection of themselves than what they think they see in someone else.
I believe in second chances. I believe heart felt apologies should be forgiven. But forgiving does not mean forgetting. The bull shit no longer fertilizes here, and I expect better.
Letting go of my hair, my security blanket, is symbolic of that. Being feminine is no longer weakness. Femininity is no longer complacency. Being feminine is not defined by outer appearance. It is defined by intrinsic value, bravery and life.
In the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one's own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one's own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.”
While I still struggle with anxiety, the bold change I feel in my soul is a deeply rooted stepping stone.
I’ve felt trapped, tangled and vulnerable for too long. I’m donating my hair to make something beautiful out of something that has weighed me down. To a little boy or girl out there that feels stripped by disease, I’m giving you my security blanket with the hope that we both might feel free.
Our voice is stronger together. Will you join me by making a gift today? Learn more here.