the HAIR project

Here’s the problem: My identity, no, my value, was rooted in how I looked. I literally believed I was worth more or less depending on whether I rocked a great hair day or those jeans hugged my butt just right.

That belief led to some serious complications. Eventually my anxiety over it grew so big and so wide that I couldn’t see an end. I imagined myself, as an old lady, crying myself to sleep over love handles. Thinking I was nothing because I’d never achieved the “perfect” body. I knew I couldn’t last that long. I couldn’t carry this thing into my golden years.

No human being is the sum total of their physical parts. And they’re certainly not the sum total of what someone else thinks about their parts. On some level I knew that. I didn’t want to feel like I had to earn love and acceptance. I needed to understand my value as intrinsic. Really feel it. Because once I believed it couldn’t be taken away, I’d also understand I couldn’t earn it. Not with talent, not with accomplishment, and not through my appearance.

So, I challenged my looks. I picked a bunch of hairstyles and went for it. Turquoise, spiky, pixie, chin length, bangs, you get the idea. Then I buzzed my head. Sure, it scared the crap out of me, but I couldn’t let the fear of the visual outcome stop the experience. I needed to believe that no matter what I looked like, I was still me. I could accomplish all the same things, and be the same important person I am to my loves.

At first the experiment opposed my intentions. Each new haircut brought compliments, assessments, critiques. Eventually, though, the project made me face myself down, all the shallow parts of me, and redefine my own value. And though every style changed how the package looked, the thing that finally changed me inside was practicing self-love, and sharing myself. Showing up in my life everyday, strengths, weaknesses and everything in between, and not giving a damn about my butt.

9-rachel-larsen

For a detailed account of the individual styles in the Hair project, wander through the blog. The project began in October 2015.

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