A few weeks ago I got my hair cut from waist-length to a pixie. It wasn’t the first time I decided on such a drastic cut. I do it every few years and donate the hair to Locks of Love. The first time I did it, I was thirty and about to come out as a lesbian. Yup, I was a late bloomer. I didn’t cut my hair to look butch or to signal my change in sexuality to all those around me or to claim my truth. Nope. My reason was simple: I needed a change.
My family disapproved. They voiced it every time I spoke with them. They saw it as a symbol—I was a rainbow-flag-waving lesbo. They couldn’t ignore it. My hair proved it. I suppose it didn’t help that I have a twin brother, and with the haircut we looked much more alike. (By the way, we can only be fraternal twins, not identical, since we’re different sexes. In case you were wondering. I’ve been asked many times over the years.)
But back to the haircut. Being a brave (some would argue stupid) person, I went to a local beauty school to have a student cut my hair. I figured it would be a good learning experience for a hair stylist-in-training, and hey, it’s only hair. It’ll grow back. (I also have several cool hats.) I must admit the way the student bit her lower lip and widened her eyes when I described what I wanted made my heart flutter.
She left to talk to her instructor and returned fifteen minutes later with her in tow. I gave them a business card which showed me with short hair, and they discussed strategy. Soon my hair was braided into four quadrants. Since the student was afraid to make the first cut, the instructor did it. Sixteen inches. All gone. It was freeing. Here’s a picture of the hair cut off.
Two and a half hours later, my hair was cut. Think about that. During those one hundred and fifty minutes, my hair stylist conferred with four different instructors, often stepping aside while one or another demonstrated different techniques. Several other students came over to watch, voicing their awe at my audacity. I was the main event. (Take a look at the before and after pictures!)
It made me think about how my decision to change my hairstyle in such a drastic way affected all these people. I might not ever see this hair stylist again, but I contributed toward her education. I made a difference in her life. I helped her in ways I didn’t foresee.
My newest novel, You Matter, focuses on how Chrissy Kramer made a difference on one fateful day. While a senior in high school Chrissy needed support, but those closest to her turned her away. She felt worthless, thrown out like last week’s trash, and that experience marked her. Fifteen years later, her heroic actions affect many lives, but it takes time for her to believe she made a difference.
Your actions can affect others in ways you may not anticipate. And you don’t have to wave a rainbow flag or get your hair cut to do it. It can be a smile or a helping hand or a nod at someone you’re passing. Or, if you grew up in my neck of the woods, use the old chin jerk, translated as ‘How you doin’?’ I know any of those actions would brighten my day, so I hope to be on the receiving end of these types of acknowledgments while at the GCLS conference this summer. Maybe even from you, dear reader.
Jazzy Mitchell loves telling stories, one word at a time. She knows words are powerful and loves to connect them in different ways. She’s the author of three contemporary lesbian romance novels: Lost Treasures, Musings of a Madwoman, and her latest, You Matter.