Tuesday, 1 December 2015

What is it about the connection women have with hair? A vast majority of us have longish hair - or at least hair that is cut into a style, not shaved. Then again a vast majority of women remove all (or most of) our body hair. I remember shaving my legs for the first time in intermediate. I hid it from mum because she wouldn't let me do it. But all the other girls did it, so I should too right? I think I shaved my armpits as soon as the first hair sprouted and have done ever since. Girls shave/wax etc their bikini area much more these days than when our hippy parents were young.

In general (and yes I'm well aware this isn't all women I am talking about), hair on your head is long without a trace to be seen anywhere else - other than your eyebrows!

For some reason, the hair on Olives nevus has always been what has made me the most sad. In today's world, excess hair is often viewed as gross or dirty. Our logical mind knows this isn't actually the case. Hair is to protect our body. It's there for a reason.

The other day I got a text from mum. She has just last week completed her radiation therapy. The text read, 'my hair is falling out.' I felt a sudden pang. She's been doing so well, with very minimal side effects and has mostly just been going about life as normal.
This was another stark reminder of what she is going through. Mum seemed fairly nonchalant about the whole thing when I went to see her, but it was a very noted experience for me. She wanted the patch of hair that was falling out gone, so she sat on the floor, me behind her, pulling great wads of her hair out. To say it was strange is an understatement. Mum laughed to my sister that it affected me more than her, but it really did. It felt like an intimate moment where a brave, strong woman's body starts succumbing to the evil of the cancer. To sit there, softly pulling my mums hair away from her head where a big scar lies from her two surgeries was sobering to the point of wanting to cry. I didn't, because it also felt as though I was the only one feeling the sadness. My ma is so accepting of each step in her journey - to her it was just what happens when you put your body through such dramatic and harsh treatments. To me, it was a stark reminder that my mum has cancer.

Since then, I have been thinking a lot about this hair issue. About why the hair aspects of both mums and Olive's journey affects me so much. I don't know if I quite have it figured out but I assume it is because of the connection in my own head, embellished by society as I and other women have grown from young women to adults,  between hair and femininity. It has made me consider what I let my girls see - they've always wandered into the bathroom while I'm in the shower, have seen me shave my legs etc.
Inadvertently I have been teaching them the same thing I was taught by the world around me - that beauty and girliness comes from how you look. This simply isn't true. As I have re-evaluated this small part of life, I have come to the conclusion as I have many times before with other issues, that our children see us. They watch us, they learn from us, mostly subconsciously. It's not all about what you say. It's what you do that matters.

I am going to try and be more mindful with the messages I send my children with what they see. That's not to say I will stop shaving my legs though!

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