The weather has been beautiful in recent weeks, warm enough for shorts and summer dresses. I dig through a makeup bag searching for a second elastic band for my hair. Too lazy to search before today, I’ve been donning the single side pony tail, very 80’s. But I’m ready for pigtails. They look better. At least I think so. Aha! I find it. In seconds, the desired look is achieved. I check my reflection in the mirror, making sure the pigtails are even. I note my ever present, and increasing in number, crow’s feet and wonder, “Am I too old for this look?” Probably, but I don’t care. I’m not hurting anyone. My hair and my clothes are my business, just like everything else in my life.
A few years ago, I saw this post on Facebook, “Women over 50 stop wearing pigtails. Just stop!” Her comment was not necessarily directly at me, but it caused me to pause for a sec. My initial thought was “Geez, what a bitch.” And then I thought, it’s her wall she can post whatever she wants.
But then I took it a step further. While I had never posted something so bold, I certainly wasn’t immune to making cracks or judgements about someone’s appearance. I decided to stop. Not to stop wearing pigtails, but to stop being so judgmental, to stop making comments about things that are none of my business, to stop giving my two cents when nobody asks.
Whenever I had the urge to be snarky at someone else’s expense, I reminded myself . . . It is none of my business, but more importantly, IT IS UNKIND. As a result something transformational happened. I looked at people differently, more deeply, way beyond their exterior. Choosing to know them on the inside, kept me from focussing on the useless and unimportant details of the outside.
Once I got to know them, really know them, they slowly revealed their stories. Like the woman who wore an obviously outdated hairstyle because it helped her mother suffering from dementia to remember her. She planned to keep the hairstyle as long as it helped her mom remember. Isn’t that beautiful?
It didn’t take long to realize there was not one good reason to make a negative comment about the way a person looks, none. It was simply a judgement, a reflection of my own insecurity or small mindedness. Ouch!
Today, I challenge myself to look beyond the human shell. I do my best to look more deeply and learn the important stories of a person’s life. For that is what keeps me connected, and keeps kindness and compassion in my heart.
Every time I wear pigtails I think of my mom. She wore them, or braids, until she lost all of her hair to her cancer treatment. I love to honor her memory in this way.