Being Pretty


I’ve run into some hang-ups in my hair-chopping plans. At first, I was just too worried about trusting a dramatic cut to an unknown stylist, so I put it off. Then I started teaching kindergarten.

Every day, little girls touch my long hair and beam up at me: “Pretty!” they say.

Maybe it’s because I work with primarily Latino and black kids, and they’re not as familiar with really long, blonde-ish, white person hair, but whatever the reason, they just can’t get enough of my split-end, faded perm hair that I comb, air dry, and leave hanging down my back all day.

And of course, being me, being highly suggestible to turning normal things into psychosocial life-and-death issues, I am now reluctant to chop off the hair that brings five-year-old girls such delight every weekday.

I have other pretty options to satisfy their pretty longings. They’ll touch my necklace or my skirt or the flowers I clipped in my hair for the first day of fall, and say, “Pretty!” with the hugest, happiest grins.

I can’t blame them. I’m a sucker for pretty things, too — an unabashed girly-girl who just last night walked out of Bath and Body Works with overpriced car scents because they were just so, so yummy. (And because I let the store associate give me a bag. Kicking myself….) That’s why I wear pinks and pastels, owl print blouses, and sparkly summer sandals. They’re pretty.

I spend a great deal of time thinking about how to inspire my kids to wonder, the first step in sparking lifelong learning. I play beautiful music during their rest time. I lament that I haven’t found great works of art to hang on my walls. I read them good books, with good writing and good illustrations.

So far, they’ve got hyped up about fall and recess and lunchtime, but the only sense of quiet wonder I’ve seen consistently is over my hair and my wardrobe.

I did not plan this. I wear what I wear and style how I style because delight in pretty things. I don’t dress for other people’s approval or notice, so I didn’t expect my pretty things to affect my kinder girls, much less the kinder girls walking down the hall.

I love how beautiful things, even things people typically find shallow or even dangerous, can bring such joy to some people, especially children. There’s still an innocence there in my girls’ delight — a love for pretty things unconnected with trying to fit in or sexualize themselves or snag a guy. I want them to keep that delighted, innocent wonder as long as possible.

And that is why, dear readers, I haven’t the heart to cut my hair.

2 thoughts on “Being Pretty

  1. Rebekah

    A few years ago, I wore purple tights to a funeral, and, as we were in line for the fellowship dinner afterward, a two-year-old boy whom I did not know, and who was much farther down in the line, scampered through the line faster than his parents could catch him and wrapped his arms around my legs, saying “Pretty!” over and over. I presume that he must have seen flashes of purple as he stood in line, because my tights would have been right at his eye level. His mom was very apologetic for some reason, but I found it enchanting. He obviously thought the purple was very beautiful, and I’ve reflected on his impulsive pursuit of beauty many times. A child’s love of beauty is a great thing…keep cultivating an appreciation for beauty in those five year olds!


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