Momservation: Do not underestimate the power of cute hair.
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Next month my baby girl is officially a teenager. I’ve agreed to these terms, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I can still remember the beginning of middle school when I tried to spruce up her wardrobe and give her tips for doing her hair in anticipation of what consumes that female demographic.
“Mom, I don’t care!” Whitney protested. “I’m not the kind of girl who cares about that stuff.”
God, I wish that would always be true. But many, many moons ago I had once been a teenage girl and uttered those same words to a mother who was trying to get me to shower regularly.
Remembering how quickly I transformed from a kid who pretended to wash my hair to a trend-obsessed teenager begging my mom to let me get a spiral perm I said, “Trust me, Whit. You’re going to care.”
Whit looked at me skeptically before walking away. Calling after her I said, “Cute hair matters! Just look at Michelle Obama! The biggest news at the president’s inauguration was his wife’s new bangs!”
Fast forward to last week. Here was the conversation I had with Whit:
“Whitney, I think we both know you have a serious decision to make.”
“It’s time to choose. Do you want to sleep in on school mornings…or do you want cute hair?”
“But it’s so hard to choose!” she moaned.
“I know, I know,” I said patting her shoulder, remembering back to the day when I gave up an extra half hour of sleep for perfectly curled, spiral-permed, ‘80’s hair cemented in place with AquaNet.
“Fine. Wake me up early tomorrow please.”
I withheld the “I told you so.” Instead I found my 8th grade school picture—evidence I once was a teenage girl—and told her a story.
“Geez! Your hair’s the size of an inflatable bounce house!”
“That was the style, okay?” I defended. “Anyway, I had always been a tomboy. Trying to keep up with Uncle Ron, trying to prove I was just as tough as the boys. That I could do anything as good as a boy, if not better. I didn’t care how I looked—because I didn’t think I was pretty. And when I got to junior high and saw all the girls in their cute outfits and cute hair and pretty make-up, I tried to pretend even more that I didn’t care because I didn’t think I fit in.
“Then one day I decided if I was going to be happy with myself instead of being secretly jealous of all the girls at school with cute hair, I had to try something new. I was going to be myself—and that person could still be strong and fast and smart and funny and even pretty without it being some chip on my shoulder that I had to prove it. It was realizing I suddenly cared about how I looked—and that was okay. Because I was a teenage girl and I wanted cute hair.
“This picture…this is the first picture of me where I wasn’t dressed like a tomboy…and I thought I looked beautiful.”
There was a moment of silence over this statement that is so hard for girls to admit out loud.
“The point is I want you to feel beautiful every time you walk out of the house,” I quietly said. “I just want you to do what you need to do to feel that way. Sleep in or have cute hair. Wear your favorite comfy jeans and Converse or curl your hair and put on a little mascara—or do both. Whatever it is that makes you feel best in your skin—be that person. Just give yourself time to do it.”
Whitney nodded in understanding before giving me hug. “Thanks, Mom.”
“Oh man,” I said in mock alarm. “If you’re going to get up early for cute hair we better tell Daddy.”
“So we can tell him to turn in his badge. There’s gonna be a new sheriff in the town of Good Lookin’.”