my journey with truth

Archive for the ‘bodies’ Category

**NOTE: This post was started in December of 2010.  It used to begin like this: I got my hair cut in October.  Why am I writing about it now?  Because I’m finally able to embrace it without crying, basically.  Yes, yes.  I cried myself to sleep three nights in a row after the incident.  Three nights.  In a row.  Me, in bed, crying quiet tears about my hair.  My hair.  Not the people of the world suffering – my hair.  But see, hair is like a secret power.  Hair is a stronghold.  Hair is a treasure.  It’s like the plumage of the human body.  And like Samson, my October haircut sapped my strength.

Now, it continues, a year and a half after the haircut incident… but then, that’s partly what this post is all about:  I asked around about a new place to get my hair cut because the last place I went in Durham I had the most boring haircut ever, and my hair had finally grown out from my first above-the-shoulders cut since 7th grade two summers before in Corpus Christi.  That looked cute:

but the inbetween phase was killing me.  And I’d finally grown out some length that needed to be shaped.  Anyway, I asked around about where to go, and a place in Chapel Hill called Moshi Moshi was recommended by a couple people.

So, I went.  And this is nothing against that place, I’m not reviewing it, per se.  But I got the world’s worst haircut.  Seriously.  I guess it was super “in” at the time, especially with hipsters and people who like to trash their hair to make a statement, or a sort of homage to many decades past – part 80s rock, part 70s lady-mullet, part 90s Rachel Green/Jennifer Aniston.  But mostly it was awful.  It was like a sort of nice haircut down to just above my shoulders and then this long single layer of hair that stuck out about 4 inches beyond the rest of the hair.  But there were layers (uneven, chunky ones) cut above my ears, for crying out loud.  Which might be okay if my hair is cut above my shoulders overall, but there was still length.  Awkward length.  And she just. kept. cutting.  (I will say this, though: I had some sexy, sexy bangs going on).  I don’t think I’ve ever had a haircut take so long.  I kept thinking “I don’t have this much hair to cut, lady… WHAT THE DEUCE ARE YOU DOING?”

But of course, I didn’t say a word.  When she asked what I thought, I tried to keep from imploding on the spot, grabbed my coat, and wrote her an obscenely large check in part because I just wanted to get out of there and didn’t want to think about what the tip actually should’ve been.  I’ve always had some combination of believing the hair person knows what they’re doing better than I do, a fear of confrontation and disturbing the peace of just swallowing it down and moving on, and the fact that after it’s done… it’s done and you’re supposed to pay that person for their services (and I know that I’m saying I was dissatisfied but see the previous parts of the combination that lead to me not ever saying anything to the hair person).

It was awful, though.  I remember calling Charlotte and heading to school after bobby-pinning the crap out of it, and she and Amy and Morgan are all trying to be helpful and positive and then I take down the bobby pins and everyone’s face is revealing the tension with which they are trying to maintain a sort of positive face and then Charlotte finally says “Yeah, I’d invest in bobby pins for the near future.”

Fast forward 4 months and I’m finally ready to let someone else try to touch up and correct the haircut (I have a thing about not really liking my hair short if that’s not already clear, so I didn’t feel like I could go to anyone to get the world’s worst haircut fixed because it would just mean chopping off most of my hair.  It stems in part from the fact that my mom made me keep this one chili-bowl haircut for all of childhood [see pic]

which in retrospect looks kind of sweet, but I was always jealous of Rachel’s long, luscious locks).  I have never given so much instruction before a haircut in my life.  I told the whole story, gesturing to my still-ugly hair, which by the way had always laid straight before and had picked up this weird habit of just always looking unbrushed no matter what I did.  The following 40 minutes was the most vindicating moment of my life aside from 8th grade when I was accused of cheating on a math test and then got a 100 on the replacement test they made me take.  She kept holding up pieces of hair and saying “See these?  They should be the same length.”  And then she said after a bit “…did… she… THIN your hair?” and I said “well she just kept going with that razor blade” and she freaked out and said “WHY would she use a razor on your hair??  You have the completely wrong texture of hair for that.  You should never use a razor to layer fine hair.”

So.  A year and a half later, I’m finally able to talk about it.  I mean, mostly I’m embarrassed now that I cried so much over my hair.  But the thing is, I’ve learned this isn’t an uncommon thing.  A woman in a class I go to on Sundays said when she heard the passage in Matthew about reconciling yourself to your brother or sister before laying your offering at the altar, she thought of how it took her TWO YEARS to go back to her hairdresser and talk to her about how she’d cut her hair too short.  And it’s not just women.  My friends Brian and Maggie visited me last Sunday and he told a story about trimming his beard really close (it was still there, just really short) and when Maggie got home, he kept asking “Do I look like a woman?” and staring off into nothingness about it.

What is it about our hair?

I think for myself, I can say that because I have long-held self-esteem issues about my appearance, there has always been my hair.  It’s blonde, naturally, which is supposedly a unicorn of sorts (though it’s getting dirtier and I kind of want to dye it all the way dark brown but that’s a whole other post about how I don’t know if I could basically give up being a blonde since hair never really goes quite back to what it was before once you mess with it chemically).  It lays straight without much effort (or used to).  It can be manipulated into all sorts of styles.  Yeah, my hair has been a physical refuge for me.  A stronghold.  It was my pretty part when all I could think about the rest of my body was “ugh.”

So, seriously strange, just weeks before my haircut incident, Willow Smith released “Whip My Hair,” weeks shy, herself, from being 10 years old.  Now, while she didn’t write the song, I have to give credit to the little sassy sasserson for her sense of self and willingness to do what she wants without really caring about convention.  The song suits her.  And she has some mad dance skillz in the video besides the actual hair whipping part.

I have to say I appreciate the gist of things lyrically, despite the hook being, as some describe, “grating” and “a nightmare of a brain drill.”  She knows that there’s power in the hair, too.  But she knows something more:

Don’t let haters keep me off my grind
Keep my head up and I know I’ll be fine
Keep fighting until I get there
Am down and I feel like giving up

I whip my hair back and forth…

All my ladies, if you feel me
Do it, do it, whip your hair
Don’t matter if it’s long, short
Do it, do it, whip your hair

A freaking 9-year-old knew better how to be herself and claim herself while I was crying in my bed 3 nights in a row.  She’s saying I can whip my hair back and forth no matter what it looks like, and I think that basically the whipping is a metaphor.  A year and a half later, I still can’t really tell you what that means fully.  But this is the truth I’ve come to understand via grieving my hair and listening to the wisdom of Willow Smith: I’m awesome no matter what my hair looks like.  I’m awesome even though I’m overweight.  I’m awesome even though I’m a pastor and that apparently makes a lot of people uncomfortable (which in turn, and I don’t think people realize this, makes me uncomfortable like I’m the one actually being judged for being assumed to be a judgy person myself).  I’m awesome even though I am not very good at sports.  I’m awesome even though I live alone with my cat.  I’m awesome.  I’m awesome no matter what my hair looks like.

Sidenote: I have these AMAZING new, big, argon oil hot rollers that make my hair look FANTASTIC.  But I’d be awesome without them too.

Eat breakfast every day.  It’s only fair to myself on a few levels – I’m constantly beating myself up for not losing weight or being better about my food intake and yet I skip breakfast all the time.  Part of the problem is that I sleep in and need to get to work and I don’t want to eat as soon as I arrive at work.  Part of the problem is that I don’t always keep fruit on hand.  So then I continue the eating terribly thing throughout the day because I tell myself that I didn’t have breakfast so there are more calories available to me (not enough for a veggie Tex Burger from Pockets and fried okra as much as I order those…).  And I get off on my food schedule and eat at 10pm for dinner or something and stay up late and sleep in.  It’s a vicious cycle and it doesn’t help me lose weight or focus for the day. And generally, take better care of my body: including taking my iron pill regularly (but not every day – it tears my body up to take it too often, and I’m not super anemic anyway).  See post below for another resolution which is in part about taking better care of my body.

Read before bed more nights of the week than I watch a movie/TV as I fall asleep.  There’s all kinds of research about how the light from TVs and computers doesn’t let your brain actually shift into the deepest sleep.  Plus it’s a bad habit.  Plus I always talk about wanting to read more fiction.  I’d like to read more non-fiction, too, but would want to do that during the day, maybe set aside a time in the week when I go sit somewhere in the sun or in public to read non-fiction, work stuff.

Write on Fridays.  Whether on my blog(s) or letters to friends or poetry or short stories or a screenplay or a letter to the editor, I want to spend time on my days off from work-work writing.  Sermons don’t count.

Tell more truth.  I feel like I have gotten away from this some, and maybe that’s why I’ve spent some time away from this blog.  I moved to a new place and started a new job, both of which are major things that can wear me down in the truth-telling realm of things.  I need friends and I want people in my new workplace to like me = not always being my most honest self in case people don’t like that.  The problem with that kind of behavior is that it makes you friends that you don’t actually want or need or like AND my job is one in which I am called to tell the truth and be my most honest self so that I can help others to be their most honest selves, too.  So, bad girl.  But it’s a new year and I’m seven months into this job and this place, so it’s time to stop acting like everything is ‘new’ and start being true to myself and my calling.

So my friend Megan has had several personal victories lately, a couple while she was home over Thanksgiving break, and I really like that things have been going her way.  Because she’s awesome.  Boom.

But I really like when things go my way, and while I was home over the weekend, I had a HUGE personal victory of sorts, though I’m not sure I’m really categorizing this correctly.  For one thing, I should probably just go ahead and count this as a confession, because it’s actually pretty terrible that I’m so happy about the following story (but I am).

Over the weekend, while I was obsessively checking facebook Friday night, I got a courtesy message from facebook notifying me that this girl from my 5th grade class sent me a friend invite.  Here’s the thing, I wish the button didn’t say “not now.”  I wouldn’t even be satisfied with “reject” like back in the stone age facebook days.  Maybe if it said “Aw Heywul Noe” with a sassy pointed finger it might get close to how I feel, but perhaps the more polite but still truthful button would be “Are you kidding me?”  I just thought, this is going to feel SO GOOD when she feels my interwebs RE-JEC-TION!

But to be honest, I’m struggling.  I kind of secretly really want to write her a message in response.  It would go a little something like this:

Dear ________,
I was really surprised to see your facebook friend invite when I signed into my account tonight.  We haven’t really spoken or even really seen each other at all since 5th grade, having gone to different middle and high schools and all.  And to be honest, I was really grateful that we parted ways after only one year of schooling together.  Maybe you don’t remember, or maybe you’re looking for more facebook friends, or maybe you think I’m really funny and wish you had full access to my statuses (stati?  I’m not sure…) and pictures.  See, the problem I have, and the reason I don’t really understand if this is supposed to be a joke or not or if I should feel some sort of strange pressure to accept a facebook friendship, is that we weren’t friends.  This isn’t a long-lost high school thing 30 years after graduation.  This isn’t because we didn’t know each other.  We knew each other.  And you were mean to me.  Pointedly.  Every day.  I was the new kid having just moved from Austin, and vulnerable in every way; you were long-established in a class that had kept the same students together since kindergarten and in the popular clique, the queen bee so-to-speak.  You told me how ugly my clothes were and where I should shop, only that I wouldn’t be able to shop there because they didn’t carry my size.  When I tried to run for student council and concluded by saying not to vote based on popularity but because y’all should know I’d do a good job, you told me I basically just admitted to how unpopular I was.  We were 10.  We were 10 and you made me feel bad every day.  I got in trouble with my mom for shaving my legs for the first time without asking, and the only reason I did it was because I knew that you weren’t allowed to at all yet and I just wanted something that I could almost consider demeaning of you to hold onto inside.

That’s how twisted you made my 5th grade experience.

What world do you live in that you think I’m excited to see your face or care to have anything about your life pop up in a newsfeed?

Sorry, that was mean.  I can forgive you.  I shave my legs for a different reason now. My favorite jeans are from Walmart, and I still wear the same size I did in 5th grade only I’ve grown about 6 inches since then (though I still wish I could wear a 5, a 7, or a 9).  I won the election for student council vice-president in high school and was recognized the year after I graduated by a random sophomore girl at a party, and I won even though I wasn’t really popular in high school either.  I can forgive you.  But I’m sitting here crying as I write this because when I think of you, I think of how at least a whole year of my life was wasted on horrible days because of the way you made me feel.  I was 10 years old and felt so bad about my life, hated where I lived, felt anxious about school most days, and continued a vicious cycle of eating to console myself for feeling so fat.  I can forgive you, but we are not friends.  And I’m sorry if that’s mean.

For some reason, it’s been 4 days and I still haven’t pressed the “not now” button.  But I really can forgive her, and that’s a different kind of personal victory.

Dear Beatrice,

Sorry I haven’t written in a very long time.  I’m just gonna tell things going on right now.  Well, Kelly and I are becoming closer day by day.  We got crosses for confirmation.  Now, to update you on guys.  I am completely and totally in love with Blake Cash and Brett Hairston!  Blake has eyelashes that make you go ooooo, lips that are perfect, and if he doesn’t have his popular attitude he is nice to me.  Brett is just like a dream!  He is hilarious and he is so incredibly cute.  He talked to me, and on last Sunday I went with Kelly to the baseball fields in Oak Hill for one of Brian’s games.  Brett was there.  He was in tight baseball pants and his Colorado Rockies shirt (that’s the team he’s on).  He had on sunglasses and his hat on backwards.  He was sitting about ten feet in front of Kelly and me. The only thing is I know that I could never have a chance of just coming into one of their minds as someone they like.  I’m too fat, ugly, bookish, unpopular, and just not someone anyone would want to go out with except for people like ______ ______ (not that I have anything against him).  I still like Peter.  Peter is probably my best friend.  Peter is Perfect.  I think that this summer I can lose some weight.  I really want to.  By the way, Rachel is officially going out with Ryan.  They started April 1.  Oh!  I got Molly in our musical at church.  I also like a guy named Charles Keenan.  But I’m not as serious about him.  My favorites have changed a bit.  Emma Thompson is still my favorite actress.  Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford are tied.  So are several of Garth Brooks’s hits with “Strawberry Wine.”  Book – All of the Tamora Pierce books.  Movie – Much Ado About Nothing is tied with Emma and The Devil’s Own and I kinda like The Saint.  Boy(s) – B.C., B.H., P.Y., C.K.  Yesterday night I had a band concert.  We played La Bomba, A Whole New World, and Stand By Me.  I guess I oughta work on HW.  I’ll might [sic] write to you tomorrow.

Later,
Lizzie : )

It’s really hard not to be really sad while I read this post.  And no, I’m not talking just about all the glaring grammatical errors.  I was 12 years old and talking about losing weight over the summer.  12 years old.  And believe me, I’d already started a healthy (unhealthy) habit of lying about my weight at this point.  I can remember one of my fifth grade classmates asking everyone how much they weighed.  I think everyone around me was between 80 and 100 pounds.  I was probably 120, so I coolly replied I was 105.  I thought that would be appropriately high enough to acknowledge that I was bigger than most sitting there without admitting to the horrific truth.  No one was fooled.

This past Friday I was in San Antonio for a physical related to candidacy/ordination for the UMC.  I weigh 174 lbs.  I hope that’s not horrifying for you.  It’s not horrifying for me.  Though I’m not going to pretend I don’t plan to lose some weight before the semester ends.  At least, I really want to.

(Let’s be real, there are some pretty funny moments in this post, too.  “Eyelashes that make you go ooooo.”  Hilarious.)

I took ballet as a child from Ms. Bobbie at the Comfort Hermann Sons Dance School.  Believe it or not, Ms. Bobbie still runs the whole show (see this flier, bottom right corner).  Either she’s ancient or she was succeeded by another Ms. Bobbie.  Either way, I’m kind of not shocked.

I was a very meticulous 5 year old in ballet.  My mom always says I looked so serious because I was concentrating on getting everything right, but then, I got everything right.  That was a time in my life when I felt good about my body.  Even as a little girl, I knew I was a little bit bigger than the other girls in my class, but I was good at ballet.  I could do all the moves.  I was a little hesitant when we did “gymnastics” (somersaults and cartwheels) at the end of each class, but otherwise, I felt just right.  My body felt just right.  My body was technically the best in the class.  And my body looked amazing in those recital outfits.  My body was transformed into a princess’s body.  The shirt I’m wearing below used to be my cover-up shirt – that’s the one you wear over your black leotard and pink tights before and after class.  It used to go down to my knees.  I also used to fit on playgrounds.

We moved from Comfort when I was 7.  I never really got back into dance after that move.  I had also been playing tee ball before the move (only girl on my team and a slugger of sorts), and should have moved up to softball the next year.  But we moved.  And I never really got back into a sport after that, either.  All the kids in my new neighborhood swam (I cheered the Forest Oaks Frogs at many a meet) and it seemed like you needed to have been swimming for years to keep up – next to no one even had a pool in Comfort, TX.  The active things that had made my body capable or even a little talented were gone, so all I was left with was the part where I remembered and saw my body as bigger.  And soon that came to mean it was incapable and untalented.  It was just big.

Nearly 20 years later, enter Ninth Street Dance Studio.

“Ninth Street Dance opened its doors in 1993 with the belief that people of all ages, shapes and sizes can enjoy and benefit from learning to dance. Not a studio for professional dancers, we invite anyone who would like to explore new ways of moving and inhabiting their bodies to join us. We strive to provide a nurturing, non-threatening environment in which beginners as well as experienced dancers/movers can enjoy their favorite movement styles or try out a wide variety of new ones.”

I take beginner ballet on Thursdays with Raina and Saturdays with Danielle.  For 60 short minutes twice a week, I feel long and graceful.  Even when I look in the mirror and remember I’m short and wide, I see my arms and my legs doing the right thing, and I’m still graceful.  Grace-full, I should say.  For 60 short minutes twice a week, I gracefully give my body a little slack for being short and wide.  It doesn’t have to be anything other than what it already is.  Even short and wide my body is able to turn my feet out into 1st position, my arms curve well and not stiffly en bas or in 5th position (don’t forget to keep your shoulders down).  For 60 short minutes twice a week, I love my body for knowing how to move rhythmically, keeping time without thinking about it – it’s just something it knows how to do, even if it is short and wide.

I am not a ballerina.  That is the harsh truth.  I have terrible flexibility – you can see it in my demi-plié, which is shallow (if I try to dip just a little bit farther, keeping my pelvis tucked under and not sticking out my butt, that means my heels have to try desperately to stay grounded so as not to cross over into grand-plié in 1st position) but maintains good form.  My feet don’t curve as much as I’d like them to for that beautiful shape ballerinas make in tendu or dégagé, but they curve and my big toe just touches and I strain to keep my turnout, imagining my ankles being pulled forward (as Raina reminds me).

I am not a ballerina.  But for 60 short minutes twice a week, my short, wide body is long and grace-full.



  • None
  • myjourneywithtruth: i had it in my office at my internship in Corpus Christi two summers ago. ellen davis is brilliant and glows with an aura of holy.
  • amy h: i love this quote. i think i may need it hanging on my wall where i'll see it daily. perhaps in front of the toilet? by the door? bedside table? i'll
  • chaz: That post made me really sad too. Mostly because I want to take young Lizzie by the shoulders and shake her (gently?) into sublime realization that sh

Categories