My 5-year-old cut off my hair and learned about what beauty really is

Guest post by Ozma Bryant
My ponytail and me!
My ponytail and me!

It is somewhat hard to begin this story because it could start in so many places. Like when I was younger and my theatre teacher told me to grow my hair out because I needed to look more “feminine;” or the countless times I have seen ads, commercials, or any other media outlet showing beautiful women with equally gorgeous, flowing hair.

It could also start when we found out my mom had cancer, although she was more frightened about losing her breasts than her hair.

Most recently my 5-year-old daughter, Olivia, came home from her preschool and announced she needed to have long hair to be “pretty” and it wouldn’t hurt if I could put her in a dress for school. Initially I didn’t think much of that comment, but it bothered me.

I promptly told her she was pretty no matter what she wore, including messy, short hair and muddy shoes. She furrowed her brows and said, “No, mama. I need to wear a dress, I am supposed to be beautiful, and boys are supposed to be handsome.” I tried not to scowl as I said, “I think boys can be beautiful too, and some boys also like to wear dresses.” She quickly dismissed me and went to put on a princess dress.

When she emerged later as Cinderella, I said, “Remember when we talked about hair and you want yours really long? That is ok Olivia, if you want it long that’s great. I have a question: would mommy still be beautiful with short hair?” She thought for less than a second before responding loudly, “Yes!” I laughed and said, “It doesn’t matter what my hair looks like, or what I am wearing. It doesn’t matter what you dress like or how you wear your hair, we are both beautiful because of what is inside our hearts. It is what is inside our hearts that counts.”

In our home I want my daughter to feel free to be a ninja or a princess, but I do not want it to stop there. I want her to feel she can also be this way OUTSIDE of our home, whether that is at school, a friend’s house, wherever. Do we own Disney movies?  Why, yes we do. I grew up with Disney and can honestly say I was enriched by the artistry and magic, and I also had parents who made sure we weren’t glued to the television set all day. They instilled a passion for reading and creativity that I continue to pass on to my own child.

Then came the kicker: Olivia started saying how beautiful my hair was…. and noticed other people made comments about it too. This wasn’t exactly an issue, but when she started saying she needed long hair “like mama’s….or Rapunzel,” I started to look at myself. What message was I actually sending her? I could say all day long that short hair is equally great, but was I actually being a real example of that? I had always thought one day I’d shave my head out of rebellion, to release all of the past energy fed to me about long hair equating my femininity. Now, I had the opportunity to do so, and let my daughter know there are also people in our world desperate for hair because they have none due to illness.

When I told my fiancé I wanted to shave it off I expected him to respond vehemently against it because…well, there are wedding pictures to think about. I really should have known though, that this is not the kind of man I am choosing to marry. He smiled sideways and said, “Okay.” As soon as he said yes, I started looking up organizations to donate the hair to, and the next day I announced to Olivia that she was going to help me cut my hair after school. I think she was more shocked that I was going to let her cut my hair, than reacting to the fact that I wanted to cut my hair short. After explaining to her why I wanted to do it, she smiled and said, “Okay… which scissors can I use?”

I collected the hair in a pony tail as the organization Children With Hairloss specified; and Olivia sat in the bathtub watching closely.

After I cut the pony tail off, my daughter and fiancé proceeded to cut my hair down to a few inches on my head. When it was done, all choppy and lopsided, I walked outside with Olivia and she said, “Mama…you look funny…and you are so, so, so, so special!” I gave her a huge hug.

That afternoon, before I had shaved my choppy cut down, I went to a furniture store with my fiancé Tim. After finding a few much needed pieces the store owner and furniture craftsman visited with us, and we talked about our children. I told him my daughter had cut my hair for me to which he immediately and honestly stated, “It is beautiful. You look beautiful.”

For the first time ever I actually believed that statement. I knew in my heart no matter what kind of hair I had or didn’t have, my spirit was making it look perfect — and that is the lesson I needed to learn.

Comments on My 5-year-old cut off my hair and learned about what beauty really is

  1. Good for you! I haven’t yet shaved my head but I won’t be surprised if it’s in my future. I always had short hair as a kid and young adult; just within the last few years have I started to grow it. People often mistook me for a boy due to my short hair but it never bothered me because I was too busy playing sports to care. Now I keep my 5 yr. old daughter’s hair short because it gets too many knots if it grows out (and she HATES combs/brushes!). We’ll cross hurdles as they come but I found my confidence was never entwined with hair length/appearance as a kid. I hope I can help pass this strength onto my kids!

  2. I’m going to have a daughter in June so I’ve been trying to mind the way I talk to and about girls. I can’t believe how often I’ll be watching TV and say “She’s pretty” or meet up with someone and say how good and “thin” they look. Gah! I hate it, but it’s a tough habit to break. It’s something I’m working on though so I love reading articles like this!

  3. This is such a great entry and such a noble thing to do to teach your daughter a lesson she needed in a way she could understand and relate to!

  4. Cutting all my hair off for a super short pixie was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I LOVE having short hair. It’s given me so much confidence and I get compliments on it all the time! Plus, I was never very good at styling!

    Someday, when I have a job that allows it, I will shave my head, too!

  5. I think this is wonderful.

    Where we live my 4 year old daughter is pressured to get her hair cut.

  6. I have had long hair my whole life, and that is how people have always identified me. It’s how I have identified myself as well. But after separating from my husband after 14 years, losing 40 lbs, and having somewhat of an identity crisis, I decided it was time for a change. I recently took a pair of scissors to my waist-length hair and kept cutting till it was well above my shoulders. I stopped at chin-length (14 inches gone) and decided it looked like the new me. It felt WONDERFUL! At first people didn’t even recognize me. Everyone had to do a double take. But everyone loves it. People that haven’t seen me in years tell me, “You look great!” And I FEEL great! I feel 10 times more confident than I ever have before, and it feels so refreshing and even liberating not to be tied to my hair and identified by it. I know I am just as beautiful with short hair as I was with long hair, (according to some, even more so! And a few have told me I look younger now.) The security blanket is gone. I don’t have to have long hair to be beautiful. I know who I am. I’m just “me” now, and I love it! 😀

  7. I love that you did this! For my term project in Art school I wrote and drew a feminist children’s book for little girls where I tried to represent as many different types of strong females as possible, but that is nothing compared to actually DOING something like this and setting such a wonderful example for your little girl!

  8. I love everything about this story! I hope that someday I can be as brave in order to set an example for my children. I also love the picture! Buzzed haircut, lacy tank top, and Spiderman shorts!

  9. I am completely in awe of how you taught your child a wonderful lesson that she will never forget.

  10. I love you story and think what you did is great, I have two young daughters both of which are just about to enter Jr high, when they were little I let them watch disney movies and they love disney land, one thing I woulnt allow was for anyone to call them a princess or get them things that sayed princess on them, I never wanted for them to get into that whole Im a princess thing I also refuced to buy them clothes that had words across the rerend. my girls both have really nice pretty hair, they like to grow it long and then when they have enough cut it off to send to locks for love the charity that makes wiggs for children, my youngest has done it 4 times now, and is talking about doing it again, if I had taken better care of my hair and not dyed it I would be doing the same thing. My youngest still loves to wear dresses to school which I have never understood because as a child I hated to do so and I never put her in them unless she asked, but I let her decide for sure what she is comfortable in and try never to judge

  11. As a woman who has always been insecure about my looks this post made me cry. I grew up being always told that this or that about my appearance needed to be fixed. After I had my son my insecurities about my body only got worse. I hope I can be as strong and inwardly and outwardly beautiful as this mom before my son starts caring about his appearance, or before any daughters I might have. More than anything I worry my own problems with beauty will taint my children.

    • Samantha… please contact me. I am part of a network of stong, supportive, spiritual women. You CAN find strength within yourself; we have room for you in our ranks!

  12. While you do look great with your hair short – you are a very attractive woman 🙂 I think what makes you beautiful is how far you are willing to go to teach your daughter that she is beautiful based on what is inside.

    This is a wonderful thing you did for her and doing so shows how beautiful your spirit is.

  13. Wonderful, wonderful read! I feel a kinship with you <3

    I chopped off my hair two years ago for the same reason, sort of…I went low-cut and natural to show my daughter that whether you have long relaxed hair or an (awesome) afro, beauty and love for oneself comes from within.

  14. My granddaughter has had bobbed hair for a while now. It’s not a big deal. I would be really bummed, however, if my wife ever chooses to cut her beautiful long hair. Yes, it’s a turn-on, and you can’t fight the hard-wiring that makes it sexy in the eyes of a man. If every woman cropped but a few, we would still find those long-haired remnants HOT. LOL

    • I’m glad to hear that you’re so happy with your wife’s appearance. 🙂 But I don’t think your own personal preferences are hardwired universally in all men. Sounds like you just really like long hair. 🙂

  15. Love it 🙂

    You’re kindness shines through every pore of your being 🙂 As does your inner beauty <3

    I always wanted to shave my head but because I am a fat woman I was told I would look, I kid you not, "like a diesel dyke". Eventually I realised I didnt think that was a bad thing at all. I never shaved it, but it was pretty close with a wee baby mohawk, and I never felt fiercer. I am growing it again because *I* want to and it feels good man, it feels good.

    <3

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