It started with a ponytail

When I was little I was a bit of a girly girl. I wanted everything to match. My mom told me I wanted my dress to match my socks, to match my frilly panties, to match my lacy socks. If everything didn’t match I refused to leave the house… I am not sure when this focus on perfection on my looks changed, but if I guess I bet it was middle school. At some point, my obsession with my appearance changed to feeling like such effort was not needed. In high school when we were debate partners my sister would tell me I needed lipstick and I would respond with saying I applied it in the morning so why would I put it on again.

I honestly have never felt like I really fit in… I’ve had friends, I’ve shared experiences… but the way in which I have seen myself doesn’t seem to meld with those around me. Most of the time I don’t think about it, but at moments I do question if there is something wrong with me… if I am not enough… if I should try harder.

I have always loved beautiful clothes and fashion… but spending time on my hair or makeup has never been an interest. Even when I have tried to take time getting ready for a special event I end up getting ready an hour before I feel like I should be finished. I have often wondered if I just didn’t know how to get ready… I felt deficient… I felt not enough.

Being a professional woman has brought me more challenges (in my mind) about my appearance than I knew was possible. I worry my skirt is too short, I worry I look to matronly, I worry my hair is too big, I worry I am out of style… the things women think yet men don’t even consider.

I was at my sister’s for some time with just the two of us. She suggested we watch On the Basis of Sex, a movie on the life and work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The movie was profound. I cried… more like I wept. I was thankful for her life. I was thankful she didn’t give up. I was thankful she continued her work to make sure women had equal rights. In all the profound work, one aspect of the movie really stuck with me… RBG embraced wearing a ponytail for most of her life.

I’ve had long hair for the majority of life. I have thick and semi-curly hair and it grows fast. I love it long, but usually at some point I feel guilty for always putting it in a ponytail and not spending time to fix it. Usually when it gets to this point I cut it short. I cut it short not because I really want it short, but I cut it so I am forced to have to do something with it besides a ponytail. It seems silly. It even might seem trivial… yet it is what women, especially women in a professional setting think about more than they should. I am sad to say I have fallen into this trap.

This morning I walked into the kitchen and my hair was HUGE. My son couldn’t stop laughing. My husband looked at me and said: “I guess you will be RBGing it.” With his few words, I felt a peace and acceptance of me and my looks in a new way. Not only did I go to the bathroom and put my hair in a low ponytail (embracing my inner RBG), but I immediately bought new ponytail clips for thick hair online.

While it might seem small… while it might seem trivial… it is anything but that. RBG taught me, and so many others, what it means to fully live into who you are as a woman. She taught me through her example to not apologize for who you are. From her life and her example I was shown how to continue to work towards a new world for all.

The ponytail is just the start of her story….it is only the start of mine.

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