“You don’t want to cut your hair short. Look at all the girls on TV. Their hair is long because that’s what people think is beautiful.” “Don’t crack your knuckles. What do you think a boy would think of you if you cracked your knuckles on a first date?”
These were my father’s last-ditch efforts to reason with me as a child. And what reasoning was there with such logic? I was, of course, rather boy-crazy at the time. My father was a boy – that much was obvious – so he must know what made girls pretty or attractive.
While I never could beat the knuckle-cracking habit, I meticulously hid it from the few boys I was around. I stuck with the long, almost-waist-length hair until the middle of high school. I struggled to control its massive, thick girth with my mom’s scrunchies and hairspray. Growing up homeschooled and timid of large social situations, I desperately tried to fit in.
And then I went to college. With the encouragement of a few friends who knew how badly I wanted to cut my hair, I went to the salon and chopped it all off. I embraced all my black and grey clothes and love for ear piercings, and forgot about looking for male approval. Women made up about 67% of the school’s population, and I had a ton of positive feedback from the girls around. Somewhere in that, I found myself.
Today, as I’m writing this, my above-the-shoulder-length hair stays tucked behind my ears. I’m spending my summer working on a landscape crew. The other day I was shoveling soil without any gloves on when my dad said to me, “You might want to wear gloves. Boys don’t like girls with rough, calloused hands.” I looked at him for a moment before saying back, “Well, that’s their loss, then.”
Because I’m done looking for male approval. I’m done letting magazines or my dad tell me what beautiful is. I have yet to find a passage in Scripture that tells me I have to be beautiful, and I have found it is a burden I am unwilling to bear. In fact, the Apostle Paul said it this way: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10 NIV).
For some people, they love wearing pink, long hair, and glitter. And if that’s you – guy or girl – I respect that. I smile at the bright colors and exuberance that your tastes bring to the world. But I love blacks, greys, and browns best. I love short hair that I can blow-dry in ten minutes. I love crazy, tall heels and swing dancing (although combining them usually proves disastrous for me). And I am convinced God does not care about it. Unlike some who would like to convince me that God absolutely does care about the length of my hair (Eve had long hair, did you know?), I tend to think that God is concerned about more important things.
When the Bible speaks on modesty, do you know what it says? It says to be clothed in “good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (1 Tim. 2:10). How do we win approval with God, over man? When we do what He says. When we, living out of faith and love, have the beautiful feet that “bring good news, proclaim peace, bring good tidings, proclaim salvation” (Isa. 52:7, paraphrased).
That’s the beauty I’m going to think about having. That’s the beauty that counts. And if man’s prejudice is against this, I have chosen the approval of God over his anyway. Let’s stop telling girls that they have to obtain male approval to be happy or fulfilled. Or worse, that they have to obtain male approval to obtain God’s approval. Instead, let’s teach them that God’s love isn’t attached to hair-length or skirt-length or any other material thing. God’s love is unconditional and free for the taking.
Rachel Lindke is technically majoring in Graphic Design at a small, Christian college, but she spends almost as much time reading about theology and feminism as she does picking out the perfect font for her design projects. Besides blogging about feminism and God, she spends her time practicing yoga, working as a landscape laborer during the summer, and convincing her friends that BBC Sherlock is the best show on planet earth. Because, of course, it is.