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"Did You do Something with Your Hair?"

For many, many years I was a member of a very conservative fundamental, evangelical Christian religion. For several years, I've been moving away from the faith little by little. Not long ago, in a fit of logic (as fitful as logic can be), I happily committed myself to atheism.

The faith I followed had a particular uniform to it, so that its members could recognize each other almost without fail in public places. Men dressed conservatively - always in long trousers and usually in shirtsleeves. Their hair was cut in an almost antique fashion that looked more appropriate in an episode of "Leave it to Beaver" than in the 21st century. Women were more strictly regulated. On pain of hellfire, they wore long skirts, sleeves past their elbows at all times, and no jewelry of any kind. They did not braid ribbons into their hair (this was a big deal, believe it or not). Above all, their hair was to remain uncut at all times. For a woman to trim her hair was a disrespect and dishonour to not only the woman herself, but to her husband, her father, her priest, and her God. This point was driven ruthlessly by traveling evangelists who preached testimonials of girls with cancer. Those who had never had their hair trimmed were spared the baldness often brought on by chemotherapy. Of course, those worldly wenches who cut their hair were doomed to bear the witness of their sin in their time of pain and illness.

My first deviation from the religion was to begin wearing leggings beneath short skirts, and sleeveless shirts. This was enough of a change to feel somewhat giddy with the excitement that only breaking well-established rules can give, but at least I was not guilty of the "abomination" of wearing the "garments of a man". That was to be my next sin. I bought two pairs of jeans, and began wearing them daily, around the house at first, and then in public. Then I started taking my husband's shirts (various items he had outgrown --Thank goodness for my beloved pack-rat!) and altering them to fit me. Now I was in direct violation of Deuteronomy 5:22!

The euphoria was like a drug. I felt so free! For the first time in fifteen years, I could do a cartwheel! I could wear a bathing suit to the beach, and not be disgusted at my body! I could climb a tree!

But still, I had one chain binding me to that old religion. The strongest of all. My uncut hair. I used to cherish this reminder of my devotion to God - lovingly combing it, creating elaborate, yet conservative hairstyles, treating the split ends as a badge of honour... but after my loss of faith I had given up on caring about it. The roots were oily, the ends completely fried. I did everything in the world to make it look acceptable, but usually ended up throwing it on the back of my head in a messy bun and hoping no one would look to notice.

My 24th birthday was this past Sunday, 27th December. It marked twelve years since scissors last touched my hair. My dear friend "C", who is days away from her cosmetology license, offered to give me a cut.

My new hair feels wonderful. My head is light, my hair is soft and healthy. It moves when I move, and I haven't touched an elastic to it yet. I can run my fingers through my hair without tangling, and I was able to sleep without the Great Octopus choking me in the middle of the night.

The best piece of all, is the feeling of the final shackle falling from my leg, and the resounding "Chink!" as the chains hit the floor.

I am free...




Karen James said...

Wow, thank you for sharing this. I too am a conservative evangelical Christian larva turned atheist butterfly, except I've been a butterfly for fifteen years now. I still feel the sense of freedom you've described here.

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