Faith was born with a head full of strawberry tufts. “Red is a part of my personality” she says, “it has always been that way. Flipping through photos of her childhood, her hair is braided tress of mandarin and tangelo. I am reminded of Ariel, The Little Mermaid and Brave. I am not alone, just last week a little girl told her she looked like the person she watches on the TV. While she is accustomed to this, Faith often finds herself noticing that she is the only one with this immediate fire amidst a crowd. “I think I like that- I never wished I had anything different. I like that my hair is something that sets me apart. And when I do meet another redhead, there is a certain unspoken bond.” For as long as Faith can remember, her wildly bold and lengthy hair has been her defining quality.
“It’s too dead,” the hairdresser said. Faith had intended to donate Locks of Love. “That felt like crap to hear.” Strangers would stop her on the sidewalk, on the soccer field, in the supermarket to praise its beauty. This was the first time someone said her mane was anything but beautiful.
“I didn’t anticipate the emotional experience cutting my hair would trigger. It wasn’t until I cut it that I realized how much my hair defined me. I didn’t feel beautiful for a long time afterwards,” she remembers. When she used to look in the mirror her eyes were drawn to her hair first. Now, while the color remained, she felt that her whole package was no longer intact. It has been almost three months since Faith cut her hair and she has gradually come around to recognizing and appreciating her other features. “Cutting my hair has forced to me become more comfortable with my face. I used to that that my hair was the most beautiful part of myself so I didn’t need to concentrate on the rest.”
Cutting her hair has pushed Faith to ask herself the harder questions and expand her vision inwards. While it has not been easy, this process has been a growing experience, one that she feels is bitter and sweet, but will get sweeter with time. Over the years, she has been flattered and frustrated by the feeling that her hair defines her- “I want my uniqueness to stretch beyond the physical…maybe it already does, but not in the sense that I recognize it”. Faith thinks she would like to grow it long again, but this time she plans to take better care of it so she is able to donate it. Faith is starting to understand the larger picture, she wants to avoid understanding her hair as a crutch and as something that ‘makes up for’ rather, she will see it as something that accents her sense of self and confidence. But it is important to appreciate the small things too she says, “I also love my freckles, especially the ones on my elbows,” she points, “they really add to my personality,”
Photo Credit: Faith Isham & Erik Kruthoff: www.erikruthoff.com