I find it rather extraordinary that I wore my hair up (like in a bun or whatever) most every day of my life for nearly 33 years.
All pent up, swept up, kept up, and desperately needing to be in control of the mess that is me.
At 33 I took my first dance class at S Factor and the teacher suggested we let our hair down. I took this as figuratively of course and scoffed internally at the idea of relaxing at my first ‘sensual movement’ class while surrounded by strangers. Later I realized that she was literally asking us to take the rubber bands and barrettes out of our hair to set it free.
Doesn’t seem like such a big thing, letting your hair down. But if you’ve spent 33 years attempting to control it, it’s not so easy to drop your guard and just say ‘okay hair, you win. You may now be frizzy, wild, and unpredictable. Please don’t embarrass me.’
But I went along and let my hair fall on my shoulders, drape down my back, get in my face, and tickle my collar bones. It was uncomfortable at first. Tuning into that sensory overload. Feeling untethered and wild. I know, it’s just hair… I know. But, it’s also more. It’s a letting go. It’s a radical acceptance of everything that makes us us. Even the messy bits.
In my classes, on the street, in the grocery store, dropping my boy off at school, everywhere– I see women determined to keep themselves tight, clean, small, and perfect. We think that if we control our hair, our weight, our body, our voice– we can control how others perceive us. We think that others will not be able to see in. The chaos of messy creative energy surging through us with every heartbeat. The hurricane of unkempt desire and sadness and joy and deep deep love. We truly believe with every self-implied constriction, we are masking the gigantic cluster bomb of emotion that lives right beneath the surface.
Because it keeps us safe. And neat. And it does. It keeps us so safe and so neat that we trick ourselves into not feeling.
Is it possible that the small act of letting your hair down could start the ball rolling in the other direction? I’d say it’s a small beginning.
After dancing for six years, my hair has become a rare creature all its own. It whips and flies and falls and twirls and tells the story of what it feels like to be set free after being bound and misunderstood for decades. Oh it’s chaos. But who says chaos can’t be beautiful? And frizzy?