Friday, March 27, 2009

Hairdressers, Heroes and Hope

Today's paper had much to say about heroes, noble causes, and giving of oneself. Today's climate of "demands" on one's time, leaves little for one to spend in "noble causes" apart from one's job. This began my thinking this morning about hairdressers, heroes and hope.

My family was filled with hairdresses. My great uncle, my great aunt, and my own mother were hairdressers. Hairdressers help us to find our "best selves" on the outside. They are interested in beauty.

My mother worked hard and long hours as a hairdresser and spent some of her time pursuing awards in hairdresser's contest. I was often a "model" for one or another hairdresser.

At one point during my early teen years, my mother had a boutique in her beauty shop and I got to go to Atlanta to the merchandise mart and help pick out the "boutique's wardrobe". This was always fascinating to me, as I loved beauty, fashion, and even thought at one point of becoming a fashion designer, or something to do with the fashion industry.

My love for beauty was emphasized in the culture in which I lived, the South. The South prides itself on tradition, which is exhibited in the historical. The plantatian homes, lovely gardens and using the right fork were all a part of "my tradition", my cultural heritage.

Though I enjoyed beauty and relished the South in some ways, I rejected many of its values, as I personally felt "different" on the inside. I was an alien in my own surroundings. Such family names as "the Sullivans", "the Browns", and "the ???" often made me feel intimidated. These feelings were in spite of my grandmother's desire to "train me" in the "finer art of Southern gentiality". I resisted, resented and have learned that my rejection was self-defeating. I always viewed debutant's as "putting on airs", while my cousins all became debutantes. And my uncle (brother in residence) took city council and ran for mayor.

My feelings of unworthiness and my experience of rejection ran so deep that I never allowed myself a chance to succeed. Early on, my friends were the doctor's and lawyer's children, but when I became old enough to choose my own friends, I chose those "on the other side of the track". My uncle even had to bribe me to enter a beauty contest. Was it because I was partly raised by my grandmother's maid when I was only a tot? Was it my own self-rejection because of my parent's divorce? Or my father's eventual abandonment? I don't know. But, it has always made me interested in psychology.

What is my point? Well, to be honest, I was trying to think of a hero in my life, which led me to the values that impacted me most and why. I love beauty, as it gives delight and just "is". I think beauty is valued because of its "being" and that is how humans should be valued. Hope is in seeing the beauty that points beyond itself, because it just is.

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