I had a haircut today.
And sitting in that chair, as my hair dresser exclaims, “You’ve got so much hair!” I remember the long journey that has brought me here.
You see, during my anorexia, my hair fell out. I mean, literally all of it. Not just like, “Oh my hair’s thinning!” No. We’re talking…I lost about 90% of my hair, and was left with about two inches of peach fuzz.
It’s no secret that anorexia ravages the body, mind, and spirit. Muscles deteriorate, the reproductive system shuts down, digestion and metabolism slows to a halt as the body enters starvation mode, the circulatory system limps along – making the body as cold as ice. But when you’re so dangerously malnourished and depleted, everything that’s non-essential gets left behind as your body literally does everything it can to keep your heart beating. Everything it can to keep you alive.
So, I lost my hair.
Now you’ve got to understand, my hair has always been my trademark. I’m just going to be honest here — a little #RealTalk: — I’ve always had a great head of hair. It’s always been thick, long, and really curly — big flowing ringlets. Not to sound like I’m bragging — but it’s distinctive — memorable. And it’s kind of a parallel of who I am: it matches my goofy, crazy, spontaneous personality. 🙂
So needless to say, it was devastating to lose my hair.
There’s nothing more feminine or more attractive than female hair. It shows grace and gentleness. It’s touchable, making a woman inviting and alluring. In a word: it is beautiful.
So in losing my hair, ED made me believe that I deserved to be hideous. I felt that my outside finally matched my insides. That it was fitting that I look so ghastly and without hair, because my insides were black with ugliness of soul and spirit.
To be completely honest, I had never felt so low in my life. And it took a long time to grow out. Probably about 5-6 months when it was all said and done.
So what did I learn from it? What did I learn from that incredibly humbling and devastating experience?
I learned where my beauty came from.
You see, my hair fell out during my relapse. It had thinned dramatically during the onset of my anorexia, but managed to “hang on” for dear life. It was when I relapsed that it truly all fell out.
So during the “peach fuzz” — or, growing out phase — I was at home, where I would truly recover once and for all. So during the emotionally painful time where I was mourning the loss of what I thought was my most feminine, beautiful possession, I was surrounded by a tremendous support system: my family.
And it was during this time that I really truly clung to Jesus, and chose life.
You see, losing my hair was really the nail in the coffin. I had already thought I lost everything: my friends, my college plans, the trust of my loved ones, my relationship with God, my body, my health, my confidence, my personality. But my hair was the final straw. Standing in front of the mirror — gaunt, lifeless, without passion, and without hair — I truly had nothing left. I had actually found the bottom of rock bottom.
And so I had nowhere to turn but to Jesus.
And so I clung to Him. I clung to His word. I clung to the Truth, and that’s what began to heal my heart and my spirit – which led to the healing of my body. It was nothing that I did or didn’t do. It was Jesus doing the work for me. I just had to let Him. I just had to allow Him to love me and accept it.
But back to the hair.
I’m not going to lie: believing what I’m about to tell you didn’t happen overnight. I’m not going to tell you that 3 days after losing my hair and having to chop it off at the ears, I was gung ho in believing these things. No. It took time. And persistence. And finally, surrendering.
So without further ado:
I learned that my beauty comes from Jesus.
My beauty comes from the fact that Jesus is living inside of my heart and shines out through me.
Now, that could sound incredibly conceited, if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t deserve for Him to live inside of me. Seriously. I mean, I have F’d up so many times in my life, that Jesus should be running the other way in sheer horror. But He doesn’t. He’s not afraid of what I’ve done. He still loves me. And He still loves you.
And the fact that you and I are so incredibly loved and are so incredibly precious to Him, is what makes us beautiful. It’s not the clothes that we wear. It’s not the way we wear our make up or paint our nails. It’s not dependent upon the numbers on the scale, our BMI or a thigh gap. It’s not even dependent upon our hair. Our beauty comes from Christ.
When I allowed Jesus into my heart, He began to change things. He began to change me. I forgave myself of all the horrible things I did and said and lied about during my disease. He began to help me adopt full recovery. He began to feed the spirit that was dead inside of me. And in doing so, His light began to shine through me.
I mean, we’ve heard it 1000 times: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” I mean, that song is up there with the Oompa Loompa song in level of annoyingness. But it’s been repeated because it is the truth.
I learned that my beauty and my value does not come from my hair. When it’s gone, folks, it’s gone. And I had to figure out a way to go on. So Jesus helped me. Everyday. He would whisper the Truth to me: That I am Loved. That I am precious because I am His daughter. That He died for me because He is so crazy in love with me. And I am beautiful because I am His. And guess what: that truth that Jesus was telling me was the exact contradiction to all the lies and bullshit that ED tries to feed me. And so by listening to Jesus’ Truth, there was no room in my head for ED’s lies. And that’s when the true healing — the real recovery — took place.
Jesus said in John 15:4, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.”
Every day – every moment – I have to stay focused on Jesus and His truth. I have to remain in Him. And in doing so, He remains in me. He dwells in my heart. And that’s where my beauty and my worth comes from.
So I guess, at the end of the day, I’m kinda glad my hair fell out. Because it was only when I had actually lost everything — hair included — that I finally said to myself, “OK, I guess there really is only one place to go from here.” And that was into Jesus’ arms.
So now, as my hair dresser complains about how cutting my hair takes twice as long as her other clients due to the volume and sheer amount of hair I have, I just smile and think about how it has come full circle.
My hair is a sign of victory. A sign of victory over the bodily devastation from anorexia, yes. But even more so than that, it’s a victory in learning where my beauty comes from. Where my worth comes from. A victory in knowing who I am in Christ.
My hair is not my most prized possession: it’s my heart.