For the first time since the age of two, I have short hair. I got this haircut in July while we were in Germany. At the same time, I got my hair lifted. A lot. Its took a great amount of time to get used to the idea of cutting my hair that short. Then, it took a great deal of time to get used to the idea of lifting my hair white. I little bit of bravery on my part. But, I fell in love with the cut and the color instantly.
I've been a slave to the color bottle since I was fourteen. My natural hair color includes a majority of blonde and a little bit of red. So, in high school, I embraced the blonde side just as all of my girlfriends were doing too. At age nineteen, I decided to shake things up and embrace the red side. I sported practically every possible shade of red over the next fifteen years. A factor in this dye addiction can be attributed to early grey hairs. My mother talks about not being able to determine what my infant hair color was going to be because my tufts were filled with every possible strand variety, including grey. And, at age nineteen, the grey factor increased. At age twenty-two, a new (single) mom, my grey hairs increased dramtically. At age twenty-seven, having had a violent near-death incident, my grey hairs suddenly turned into patches.
I have tried multiple attempts at going natural only to have boyfriends react with quivering lip, "Yeah baby, that looks nice." Or, my stylists would tell me that I really should consider color. By age thirty-five, the grey was so dominate that my usual red dye no longer looked appealing so much as clown-like. I went back to embracing my blonde side because when the color grew out the line was not as harsh as it was on grown-out red hair. I have been a cheap bleach box blonde for the past six years until the lift in Germany.
Since Germany, the lift has slowly grown out. Multiple cuts later and no more color, there is only about 1/8th inch left of some blonde on my longer layers that will most certainly no longer be there after my next cut in the next couple of weeks. What is there is good old fashioned blah dishwater dirty blonde sprinkled with white greys throughout with large white patches at my temples framing my face. It is so soft that I can't seem to keep my own hands out of it. Other people touch it and rub it. Its kinda cool (smirk).
But lets talk a little more about that bravery thing. A number of months before my German haircut, a girlfriend of mine took a clippers to her sexy long mousy brown hair. I saw this as inspiration and it got me to thinking. I viewed her as very brave. I still do. So many women don't have even the slightest balls to do such a thing and never will that her act of bravery is to be commended, in my view. I recalled one of the very first issues of Jane that featured an expose by one of its feature editors that detailed that very act of deciding to shave her head, shaving her head and the social reaction to it - what it did to her mental processes and how it crept into her self esteem no matter how convicted she felt about the entire ordeal. My friend is still rocking her short cut. And now I am too.
All this bravery and boldness. I'd been feeling real good about my cut and was marveling at the daily changes in color when strange things started to happen. Although my friends were telling me that the cut had me looking ten years younger, other public reactions were happening to fuck with my pride. When we are working out consistently, my husband works out in evenings and I work out in mornings, both at the same box. One evening, while Garrett was finishing a workout, I was hanging out waiting for him while leaning against one of the GHD machines. There was also a couple working out. I saw this couple a few times before but had never had the opportunity to properly introduce myself. To me, the man appeared to be my same age...40ish. He was average height (like me), carrying too much weight (like me) and had short dishwater blonde hair with patches and sparkles of grey hair (like me). His wife looked younger and more fit (like my husband). This day, Garrett was working out with the man, his wife and maybe one other person. They were finishing up the work-out when the man approached the grouping of GHD machines and, as he was mounting one, smiled at me while asking "So, whose Mom are you?"
Is he talking to me?
"Whose Mom am I?"
"Yeah, whose Mom are you?"
Nervous laugh, "I'm his." I reply as I point to husband.
"He's my husband."
"Really? Oh, ok."
I realize he wasn't playing with me. He was dead serious. I left him to define his ass via GHD so I could go sit on the stairs and process while Garrett finished up. The fourth wheel in the workout was long gone by now and after this guy finished up his ass workout he walked over to his wife. Shortly after he walked directly to me extending his hand for a shake. He shook my hand while expressing that he did not have his glasses on and that he sees now that he was clearly wrong for thinking that I was my husbands Mom. He apologized. I accepted.
Clearly, he didn't mean anything by it. But what messed with me most was that he absolutely thought that I was that much older than my husband. Now, the fact that my hair was almost totally naturally grey combined with his perception messed with my ego and sat with me for many days. The next week, I told my stylist because I thought maybe I should lift my hair again. Surprisingly, she told me not to. She assured me the natural color was gorgeous.
So then my mind reverted to body image. I know that my husband loves me as I am. I was a much more robust weight than I currently am when he proposed to me. We have been married one and half years. In that time, I have spent a great deal of attention to dropping pounds and regaining my feminine figure. While still large, I often times forget how far I've come - like four pants sizes in that year and a half. Garrett continues to be encouraging and loving.
I have had my ups and downs this year in regard to motivation and commitment to my fitness needs. I consistency has definite spikes and valleys. Yet the desire is always there. Twice I got sick and took longer than I should have getting back to it. This includes right now.
At a recent social event, a woman older than me was beyond surprised to learn that my both my daughter and my husband weren't my children. Of course my college-age daughter was my kid but my husband was my kid too, right? She continued on about wanting a younger lover for herself and then stopped and looked me dead in the eyes and said "For real? He's your husband? Well, good for you!" After repeating over and over how fortunate I was to have such a husband, she explicated further about how good it is for 50-year-old women to have younger men.
What saved me (aside from my pleasant disposition in situations such as these) was my girlfriend (who witnessed the entire fiasco and who even attempted to sway the focus of conversation off of me) confiding in me that she just doesn't see it. I love her for this move. I love her for a lot of things but this sure did help.
Last week, I went to view a new CrossFit box that is opening. During introductions, my friend told the owners (all four of them) that "We all are from Paradiso CrossFit." The guy standing closest to me shook his head in agreeance, then his face washed in realization when he turned to me and muttered, "You too? Really?" I felt both humiliated and inspired. Humiliated that it seemed as though he assumed that just because I am a big girl that I haven't come along way. Inspired to get more fully immersed in fitness. Worried that I am a poor representation for my box.
Again, I believe this happened completely innocently. But, my effing ego took note.
My ego has been getting the ol' one-two punch and I haven't done well to defend it.
I've been cranky lately.
I would say I am depressed.
However, I am not giving up. I know myself well enough that I will make it through this. I have made it through a whole hell of a lot in my life and I refuse to let body image be the jackhole that takes me under. I suspect that many people at my box and in my life struggle with the drive toward their goals because we get run down. And, if you are like me in that you are not a life long athlete, the struggle can be even more challenging. You feel ashamed. This leads to hopelessness. This leads to a lot of other internal demons. And that is why I am sharing my story - in hopes that someone else will find inspiration in it.
As much as I shamefully hang my head in the presence of the trainers from my box, the truth is that they aren't judging me to the degree that my mind makes it up. I know that they see the struggle and they always welcome me back. Once there, I receive a great deal of encouragment from them. And this helps me not to quit this life long battle.
I'm still going strong in my own little ways. I hope you will too. If you've paused your regime just get back on. They will only be happy to see you in whatever environment you workout in. It happens to the best of athletes so it definitely happens to us. Don't go around thinking its just you. Its us. Lets do this!