My Big, Fat Jewish Hair


Identity is a funny thing. We get these labels assigned to us very quickly by people in our lives trying to fit us into a category so that they can find comfort in where we fit in their life. It�s typically not intentionally negative, but the repercussions could be monumental. Who would have thought that hair could have such weight on the identity of a person?

Shy, strong, loud, loyal, kind, short, Jewish, athletic, single, straight, mom, friend, boss. What do all these things even mean? Why are we so attached to them? And it’s not just everyone else who’s doing the labeling. We slap labels on ourselves in order to feel comfortable in our own skin. But are we?

My whole life I�ve had big curly hair and I made it work for me. People knew what they were getting before they even met me and, for better or worse, it got me plenty of attention. It literally made people happy. It made me feel more creative and unique. It matched the personality and identity that I so intentionally worked at having, which served as my own winning formula to being likeable. The only problem with all of this is I�ve been holding on so tightly to the identity that seems to perfectly match this big head of hair, that I disregarded the other qualities of me that weren�t so joyful, confident and bold. I was able to hide behind this big hair and write off the anguish and fear that existed within me because as long as I could keep them smiling on the outside, I would never have to look inward and face any of it. Realizing that for the first time at 28 years old is pretty heavy.

What if I didn�t have this overbearing statement residing on my head? What if I could physically blend in and then people would have to meet me and talk to me before they could make any assumptions? What if I didn�t have the go-to joke at my hair�s expense readily available to get me out of situations when I was feeling insecure? What if just being me was enough? No expectations, no rules, and no limitations.

So, I dared to straighten it. And there I was looking like everyone else. I felt free, attractive, mysterious. Very soon after, though, I felt boring, meek, and serious. I was left worrying about all the new assumptions people would make about me. And then, with a deep breath, I just let all of it go. People will make assumptions and they will judge, categorizing you to fit where they need you to in order to protect what they know to be true. All we can do is work on us.

The art of stripping away our attachment to identity is a life-long, never-ending journey that is worth fighting for every single day. Who we are as individuals cannot be found in a single word, a single idea or a single feeling. We are far more complex; we are a collective, we are all words, all ideas and all feelings. We should all try to fall madly and unconditionally in love with the truest version of ourselves we can possibly discover over and over again and stay so strong in that love that it’s unshakeable. Go on, I dare you. 

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