The woman parked next to me at Office Max stopped me as I was getting into my car. “I just have to ask you about your bumper sticker!”
“Which one?” I have several, all with radically liberal leanings.
“This one here–‘Hair is not the answer.'” She pointed to her mop of curly dark hair which the wind had styled creatively. “I have lots of hair; I hope you’re not telling me to shave my head!”
“Well, it actually says ‘War is not the answer.’ It’s from the Quakers.
She laughed, a bit embarrassed, and agreed that war is not the answer to the world’s problems. But I began to wonder, as I drove away, what wisdom could be found in her original interpretation?
I have never liked my hair. It’s too curly to be straight and too straight to be curly. Perms make me look like an aged Shirley Temple. The color went from strawberry blonde in my teens to dull light brown in my 40s, with one splotch of white which I acquired while teaching junior high science. I have a large, stubborn cowlick at the center part, so I can’t have bangs or part it anywhere else. I have resorted to coloring it; in fact I have an appointment this Friday to go slightly darker instead of trying to keep up the strawberry blonde illusion. The money would be better spent buying a hundred more bumper stickers from the Quakers, since the money goes to anti-war lobbying.
The goal of a retreat is often to work on those problematic areas of self-esteem. Take a good look in the mirror, or worse, look at pictures of yourself. Note what makes you squirm.
The truth is, people who care about you love you for who you are, not how you look. They take in the whole package and don’t focus on the shape of your nose, the clothes and jewelry you wear, and whether you remembered to put on lipstick that morning.
It’s fun to play with your personal style, to find that great pair of shoes, the super comfortable Hawaiian capri pants, the elegant gown for a great price in a thrift store. If self-image is a huge problem for you, it’s worth taking a day of your retreat to play dress-up again. Take the hours those actresses on TV need to look the way they do on film, and enjoy making yourself look great.
Hair is not the answer.
It’s what’s underneath that counts.