My Hair, My Identity


The other day I was at the park with my family and I saw two little girls there playing. They were playing so well on the swings, but the woman they were with was not their mother. She had a badge and was maybe a social worker? I’m not sure.

After about 5 minutes, the younger of the two girls turns around, sees her mom and yells “MOM IS HERE!” 

Her excitement to see her mother was instant, and you know the next thing she said? “Mommy look at my hair!” 

Her mom’s response? “What did you do to it? I can’t believe you cut her hair.”

Upon hearing this response, the older of the two sisters made a snide comment to her mom, to which her mother bantered back to her… and so it went.

But the fallen faces were what got me. These two girls were so excited to see their mom and even more excited to show her what they’d done, what they were so PROUD of, and their mother’s response? “I can’t wait until you’re back home with me.” Followed up with “I don’t like it, I want your hair long.”

I was heartbroken for these little girls and then also heartbroken for myself. How many times have I wanted my son, who has beautiful curly hair, to just keep his hair the same? I think about when he grows up and dyes it because “that’s what the team is doing”, or when he shaves off one side in self-expression, or when his beautiful curls get matted and he decides he wants a buzz cut. 

He’s only one and I am already defining his life by the look of his hair. Will he get made fun of for having long hair? People already make A LOT of comments and question when we will cut it, to which we reply when we are ready… but will I ever be ready?

Am I holding on to something more than I should be?

I worry I will take him to the wrong barber and they will snip his curls, which will never be the same again. Then what? What will I do? Will I look at his hair and say “I don’t like it”, only making him more self-conscious? Only making him hang his head?

When his father takes him to the barber and he decides to get a buzz with design, will I see it and be disappointed?

After watching these little girls, after seeing what I saw, I hope like hell that I won’t. I never thought that I would care so much about his hair, but after this exchange, I realize how much clout we put into outward appearances – for ourselves, for our children, our families. The first thing someone says when they see you is usually based on your appearance. They question our hair cuts/color, whether we have gained/lost weight and we respond in kind. Saying how “good” they look.

But it’s just hair. It’s just a body. While these things may have a direct correlation to our personalities, they are not who we “are”.So, I hope like hell that as my boys grow that I will see their smiles, their beaming faces, and even if I don’t LOVE the cut, I’ll whisper to myself “It’s just hair” as I say to my boys “you look happy”.


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Hi! I'm Tish Schaefer and I'm so happy to be here. I am a Full-time English teacher to 7th and 8th graders. I am currently taking some time off to be at home with my son, but I cannot wait to be back into my regular schedule. I also have a Health and Wellness business, where I teach women to embrace who they are, while also creating lasting lifestyle changes. I enjoy long hikes, camping and down time with my family.


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