Growing up I was a huge fan of the 1994 film version of Little Women. I mean I LOVED it. I wanted to be Jo, and I wanted to wear all the dresses with the hoop skirts. I wanted to go to balls, and have three sisters, and I definitely wanted Laurie to propose to me in that beautiful meadow (and I would have said “yes” as I always wish she did every time I watch it, even to this day!) I could quote this film endlessly and so many of the moments are woven into my memory, but I want to talk about a specific one that I find myself pondering often.
When the story begins we know that Mr. March is away serving in the war and at one point it is revealed that he has been wounded. The March family is not well off and they are struggling to gather the funds to be able to send Marmie (Mrs. March) off to see him. Jo is supposed to have gone out to ask her aunt to borrow the money and she returns with $25, which was quite the sum for the time. When asked if their aunt could spare that much Jo says that she couldn’t bear to ask her and instead has sold her hair. She removes her bonnet to reveal her shorn locks and Amy exclaims, “Jo, how could you?! Your one beauty…” This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly how I feel about my hair.
If I have any vanity (and I am quite certain I do), almost all of it centers on my hair. It took me a long time to figure out how to tame it, how to understand it’s weird scraggly curly ways and make it bend to my will. But these days, I’ve pretty much got it trained. Without question my hair is the thing that makes me feel the most beautiful. I’ll go almost anywhere without make up on, but going places without my hair done is a much more trying endeavor.
I sometimes wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I do think it is good to have features you are proud of and something to immediately have confidence in. It is nice, especially for someone who struggles with their weight, to be able to just know deep down, “I have really good hair. I have the kind of hair lots of people wish for” (As hair is something that doesn’t really change with weight I have found it to be an especially useful attribute). However, I know that I sometimes hide behind my hair. I use it as a mask to hide my insecurities. I let myself imagine that having confidence in that “one beauty” is the same as having confidence in myself as a whole.
Of course, the fact is that Jo was just as beautiful and dynamic and interesting without her hair. And if I shaved my head tomorrow I’m sure there would still be parts of myself I believed to be beautiful, but here is hoping I can learn to find them without doing that, huh?