This last weekend, I did something I’ve never ever done before, in 34.5 years. I went to a salon and got my hair cut. Now, to a lot of my readers, that may not seem like a big deal.
To those of you who, like me, grew up in churches where a woman’s salvation could be and often was gauged in uncut hair vs. cut hair, it’s one of the biggest deals there is, bigger even than wearing pants. See, the churches I grew up in look at a few verses in Corinthians chapter 11, and extrapolate a doctrine that teaches if a woman so much as trims her hair, she may as well have her head shaved – it’s a sin, it’s a disgrace. I look at those scriptures and draw a different conclusion (it makes more sense to read that passage as Paul instructing the women to follow the custom of the day for Godly women.)
In the UPCI, the denomination where I spent 18 of the last 22 years, hair is a Very Big Deal. Women are to keep it uncut. Men are to keep it off the ears, off the collar, and preferably coiffed in something reminiscent of a 1950’s FBI agent (not the cross-dressing variety, of course!) Most of the churches have very specific rules regarding *how* women wear their uncut hair…it varies from church to church. The more conservative ones teach that once a teen reaches 15-17, she should start wearing her hair in an updo (plain to intricate, depending again upon the church. I wish I were joking when I tell you that I know of more than one church where the minister’s wife stands by the doorway and counts the number of curls in the updo, and makes them redo the ones that have too many.) The more liberal ones permit unmarried women to wear their hair down, but require the hair to be pulled back/up for married women (hair is seductive, and will only entice men to lust. When a man lusts, he can’t control himself, and it’s all the woman’s fault. This is really important to realize!)
Honest to goodness, one time when I was a young teen, a “minister of the gospel” walked past me and grabbed my backside. I called my pastor’s wife and told her…her response was “well, you had your hair combed down over your eye. I warned you that was seductive.” She didn’t appreciate me telling her that the jerk grabbed my arse, not my hairdo 😉 But that’s the type of power that’s attributed to a woman’s hair in those circles.
Speaking of “power”, one of the ginormous issues I have with current UPCI doctrine is the prevalence of what some have dubbed “Holy Magic Hair”. The new General Superintendent has pretty much ok’d this. Here’s a summary – uncut hair provides a woman with a special authority with the angels. She should unbind her hair and shake it in the wind when praying, to double the power of her prayers (a ritual pulled straight from the occult.) If she cuts her hair, not only does she lose the super-duper magical powers, but she brings down curses on her family. I’ve heard it taught that my husband, as the priest of our household, is to clothe himself in the metaphorical armor of God. Alas, that only clothes his front and sides…so what about the back? Why, that’s where the woman (who of course is submitted enough to always be behind her husband and family) comes in – her unbound uncut hair provides the true “spiritual protection” over the home, and when she cuts it she exposes her entire family to hellfire.
You can see why, when a woman “leaves the church”, one of the first things she usually does is chop her hair 😉 Believe me, I’ve contemplated it more than once in the years since we’ve stopped attending. But…I haven’t wanted to do anything reactionary – I love long hair! And I didn’t want such a major change to be because I was responding to something I’d been taught. It needed to be on my terms, in my time, and I didn’t think that time would be soon.
However, time + hormones made the decision for me. 8 years ago, my hair was to my ankles. It’s slowly broken off, until for the last couple of years it was around mid-thigh. In the last few weeks, the loss and damage accelerated, to the point where I was losing 1-3 inches *a week*. Since I love long hair, I found myself in the oxymoronic position of chopping my hair to save it from getting shorter. My husband and I talked it over, and talked it over, and talked it over…he has a thing for long hair, too 😉 He joined me in the salon, along with a close friend of mine, and I had about 6 inches of dead, horrific split straggly ends removed. Yes, it took two people to talk me through it – it was far more traumatic than it seems like it should have been… As another friend of mine remarked, it’s amazing how much baggage can be carried in 6 inches of hair!
So now, it’s done. I officially have cut hair. The stylist assured me “I’m just taking off the damage, no one will even notice!” and the three of us burst out laughing – because if there’s one thing people I know will notice, it’s me removing the Holy Magic Hair. But it was time. And now, my hair feels and looks healthy and soft and groomed…and I still feel like a daughter of the King. 🙂