It’s Just Hair

We stood on the sidelines of the birthday party, watching our two sons run and play together.  Both bright, if a bit awkward, little boys, they had found each other and become fast friends.  We, their mamas, were delighted.  We talked of the weather and the traffic and all manner of shallow things.  She mentioned that she had a hair appointment that afternoon.


“I have to get these roots touched up!” she chuckled, and I smiled.  “And I’m looking forward to it,” she added, “because my daughter and I are going together for kind of a mother/daughter outing.”


“Oh, that sounds so fun!” I said, “I look forward to doing that kind of stuff someday.   Is she making any kind of change or just a trim?”


“Well,” she began, “she’s getting it colored.  She’s talking about how she wants it red– like, bright red– on top, with some yellow streaks in there.  I don’t know… because her natural color is really dark.”


“Oh, uh huh?  How old is your daughter again?” I asked, just to make conversation.


“She’ll be seventeen later this summer…” and she trailed off.  She paled a bit.  She eyed me, perhaps taking in my rather conservative outfit and preppy little dark blonde ponytail, maybe noticing the small diamond hoops in my ears and the disc necklace that reads, simply, “Faith”.


And I realized: she was regretting sharing this little piece of her life.  She thought I was judging her.  She thought I had something against high school girls with vivid hair, perhaps.  Maybe she thought I looked down at her as a mom.  She couldn’t know I had my hair highlighted the first time at the end of my freshman year of high school or that, just as soon as I had had my senior portrait taken, I went out and did some temporary “burgundy” rinse that turned out bright fuschia on my lighter hair.  She would have no way of knowing that, while I giggle at the “goth” boy who lives down the street because I think his long black coat looks ridiculous in the summer, I don’t think he’s a bad kid.  His black hair looks funny when the pale brown roots grow in, but, whatever.


And so I said to her what my own mother said way back when I was the girl whose hair color could change from season to season,


“It’s just hair.”


And she smiled.  Slowly, at first, and then beautifully.  And she laughed.  “I’m afraid it might look ridiculous.”


“It might,” I shrugged.  “But, really, what better time is there to experiment with your hair than when you’re young?”


I don’t know if she got that red and yellow hair or not.  If she did, I imagine it might not have been the best look ever.  The thought of multiple crayon colors popping up on someone’s head makes me roll my eyes at the silliness.  But there’s a difference in rolling your eyes at the silliness and clicking your tongue in judgment.  I’m realizing that, too often, I may have been guilty of the latter.


It’s so easy to extend a little grace.  A little compassion.  A little understanding.


It’s just hair.  As my own smart mother figured out so many years ago, “If that’s the worst thing she’s experimenting with, we’re doing just fine.”


It was.  And they were.


It’s just hair.

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22 comments to It’s Just Hair

  • Beautiful post. It is wonderful of you to recognize that she may have thought you were judging her and then take steps to make her more comfortable. It is just hair and it is so easy to be judgmental over such *simple* things.

    • I think, too often, we humans go out looking for ways we’re “superior”… characteristics that “measure up.” And we wind up looking at these superficial nonsense things… like what we wear, how we do our hair, how often we cook/clean/whatever. But you’re right– really, those are the simple things. It’s the tough stuff (love, compassion, grace, etc.) that is a more telling measure. Thanks for your comment.

  • YES!!! You said just what she needed to hear (she’s not a bad mom) and really, it’s JUST HAIR. It grows. It can be recolored. Or cut. I have daughters who have had their hair highlighted, colored, and lowlighted (that is black underneath) with purple tones. I’ve also got two boys who, at one time or another, have both had mohawks. (They are really easy to shave off, so why not have a mohawk for a week?!) It’s just hair. I work in a very large youth group (170+ students) and have seen some odd things, as far as clothing, hairstyles/cuts, and piercings, and they don’t scare me. Kids are kids. :)

    • “Kids are kids.” <– so true!! And many, many kids are just trying be unique and establish identity. I think this is such a normal part of growing up! I trust that, should my daughters try out blue hair one day, they'll ultimately realize that, not only is their brown likely prettier, but that the hair doesn't change OR define them. I remember a kid in my college who polished his nails navy and had bleached out tips. He looked wacky, to be sure, but he was one of the most honest, genuine, and truly compassionate people I knew there. And he sat next to me EVERY single week in church. It's just hair. :)

  • This is an interesting discussion. I totally agree that you shouldn’t judge. I also beileve that above all, your inner self and actions matter the most of all. I do think that your outer appearance also provides a witness and a canvas to what you believe. I have my own personal convictions about hair dying and ear piercing and I think if I’d go against them, I would be in the wrong. However, everyone has their own convictions and they should stay true to them. I think that you’ve given a lot of food for thought :).

    • I think it’s totally appropriate to have your own standards and convictions. I don’t want my little girls wearing high heels or skimpy clothes. I have no issue, however, with polishing their toenails. We all draw our own lines, but I think it CROSSES a line if we try to impose those standards on the world and consider others “less” if they don’t adhere to our “rules”. Does that make sense? :)

  • Katie

    Oohh, your new hair color looks really good. Dark hair really suites your eye color, your eyes always popped, but now even more so :)

    Yes, I agree that people need to stop making snap judgements about others over such trivial things like hair. I’m guilty of this all the time so this post was a good reminder for me.

    • Alas, the black hair is a wig! Still dark blonde under there. :) I have always, always wanted really dark hair but, at least in real life, it totally washes me out. I married a black haired man, though! So I’ve always had hopes of a black-haired, teal-eyed baby. ;)

  • Danielle

    First off Jessie, I love reading your blog and find it so refreshing. I don’t usually comment on blogs but it was almost as if you were reading my mind tonight. I am going on vacation next week and just told my sweetie that when we get back I think I want to either get my hair dyed auburn or perhaps just highlights (I have really dark brown hair). What makes me giggle about your post is that I’m freaking out if it would look silly because I’m 23 and think I’m too old! I used to have no problem doing my winter auburn hair in the winter and then having it nearly black all spring/summer. However, tonight you reminded me – it’s just hair! Thank you!

    • Ooh, I think auburn or highlights sounds lovely! As the seasons turn cooler, I often feel like darkening my hair to a more caramel-y brown and then brightening with more blonde in the spring. I think seasons can totally affect how we feel about hair color! (Oh my goodness, 23? You can get away with almost anything at that age. ;) Not too young, not too old. Have fun!)

  • Katie

    Haha, you got me! I totally fell for it ;)

  • Kudos to you for recognizing that this lady might have been unsure of your stance based on her perception of you. I admit that I usually realize it much too late and then end up regretting the entire exchange as I second guess myself and think about the “should have said’s.”

    • Oh, Laura, I have many, many “I should have said” moments. I honestly think this one was easier for me because I could so easily personally relate to it! I WAS the girl with fuschia hair! Who was I to judge, right? ;)

  • Seriously as long as there are no tattoos or piercings I’d be happy. Hair grows back!

  • Ok, I’m glad I read through the comments, because I was totally going to ask “Since when do you have bangs?!” LOL

  • Tracy Wilkerson

    When the stylist asks me if it’s okay for my girls to get their hair cut as short as they ask for my reply has always been, “it’s only hair”. I hope I feel the same way when they ask to have it colored. I also giggle rembering my peroxide fiasco in high school. My hair was orange – as was the tub I rinsed it out in. I’m not sure which one my mom was more upset over. LOL

    Actually, I had my friend color my daughter’s hair in third grade. Why? Because she couldn’t get past being upset that she was a blonde (like so many others pay big bucks to be) and the rest of us in the family were brunette. Though I felt silly ar first, it turned out beautiful – like she already was. It just made her believe it. It’s only hair. :)

  • “If it’s the worst thing they’re experimenting with…” Yeah, seriously! I’ve never dyed my hair. I have had a few perms, and I keep thinking about doing it again (but not until I get the split ends on the bottom of my hair sorted out), but that’s about it.

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