I have been sat in a cafe all afternoon writing a course, looking at the stats of how many women struggle with beauty (Dove’s research claiming that only 4% of women globally would describe themselves as beautiful). How many women, instead of knowing they have value, have low- confidence and turn to self-harm and worse.
The young girl serving me kindly all afternoon is called Zoe. I like her. She has bright pink hair. I watched how all day every person who came in commented on her hair, mostly on how much they loved it! She beamed and replied to each one with grace as though it was the first time she had heard a joke or comment of ‘does it glow in the dark’. I wondered how long she has had pink hair for, how long she has had to talk about it and if she enjoys the constant comments on it- she seemed to! It was nice.
Then just as I was packing up, two ladies came in.
“Oh goodness look at that.” the older one said looking at Zoe,
“Oh mother that sounded rude, but yes that is very..bright hair you have” said the other lady.
“…haha yep, I like pink!” Zoe responded trying to keep the smile.
“Well, I think we can all see that…At least you have a face that can pull it off. Sometimes you see girls with coloured hair and they turn around and you think ‘Eurgh! Why are you drawing attention to yourself!‘ You can deal with yours though”.
I couldn’t help myself and loudly said “WOW?!”
Everything in me wanted to say to her, that exactly what she has just done is why as a whole culture we have such an issue. Because other women would be so very cruel. Who is she to judge whose face is beautiful enough to have pink hair!? Who is she to make this girl insecure as to whether she should be drawing attention to her face!
The words of my husband came into my head ‘don’t start a fight you can’t finish Hannah’ . Not that I am a fighter! If I find things that are unjust, I can struggle to not say something- which isn’t always sensible! I am in London on my own and I don’t know anyone else in the cafe. Much as I’m sure I could have finished it (I wouldn’t have hit her, don’t worry) I decided my WOW was enough. She started justifying to her mother that she was right and some girls really shouldn’t. I packed my stuff up, told the girl I loved her hair and her face too then left. So as to be able to hold my tongue.
I do see the irony of being annoyed at her for pulling another woman down and writing here about her. I just need to get it off my chest. I really can’t stand how this culture of judgement and labelling and comparison is destroying women. Young and old, women are experiencing a serious lack of love for themselves.
If beauty is defined by a standard a face should be, then what on earth are we looking for? The right shape, positioning, colour, size- all could be out of whack to the standard of beauty seen as ‘beautiful’. Surely we can be about more than that?
Just as I walked out of the cafe I had a ‘ping’ of my WhatsApp message. A very dear, hilarious, wonderfully caring friend has sent me some images of her with different wigs on. She is looking for which wig she can wear for when she has no hair due to illness and treatment. She is honestly the deep sense of the word beautiful. I look at those images and see such a beautiful woman. Brave and courageous, faithful and steadfast- who though she is walking a very difficult road is still thinking of others. Still caring for those less fortunate, still wickedly funny too! This has to be what it is about, what we aspire to.
I don’t have an eloquent message here. I am just blirting out my frustration and hoping you can join with me. Stop calling each other, stop seeing what the media put out there as a standard and trying to attain it. Let’s look for true beauty. Look for real gorgeousness in the women around us and speak that out.
We are all created in the image of a God who designed each of us so intricately. Since the beginning of time, there has never been a replica. He never got bored and decided to make the same, He took His time. He imagined and designed and created because He wants you, just as you are and He adores your face. He sees Himself in you and He delights over you. No matter what you wish you could change or edit, He knows what He made and He calls it good- better than good! He breathes life into you and sees far beyond the surface- He is interested in your soul. In how you see yourself and see others, in how you speak about those around you-in how you build up and don’t tear down.
Lets’ be the women (and men) He designed us to be. Please champion each other, please know we have purpose and destiny and take the time to see and hear that in someone else.
And if you want pink hair please flippin GO GET PINK HAIR and send me a picture, I might join you! Let’s get pink hair and show our faces off!