I have a confession to make.
In the last few weeks, I’ve only shampooed my hair once (and that was actually kind of an accident).
Some of you are probably thinking, “That’s gross!” Some of you are probably thinking, “I’ve been there.” And some of you are thinking, didn’t I just read about this last week?
Actually, you’re all kind of right. I’ve decided to try out “no-pooing.” If you’re curious about this at all, I wrote a kind of extensive post about it here. I decided to do it for a number of reasons, but mostly because it’s supposed to reset your scalp and make it less oily, my hair color will probably last longer, and it’s an environmentally friendly thing to do.
I decided to do this on a whim, but not shampooing my hair has actually been weirdly difficult for me. I’ve been washing my hair every day since junior high, mostly because I was deathly afraid of having greasy hair. My hair is both oily and fine, so I washed it every day without fail because I thought it looked even finer when it wasn’t washed.
But when I really connect to the emotions behind this, I think it also had to do with the body hatred and the particularly awkward stage I went through in 6th grade. I was chronically unhappy with my body, and puberty was exacerbating all of that. I was dieting all the time and struggling to be thin (with very low levels of success), so I thought that at the very least I could have the best hair that I possibly could. Washing and styling my hair every day was something within my control. Having perfectly squeaky clean hair was both socially acceptable and a form of body denial. As Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby noted in Lessons From The Fatosphere, “fat” is such a charged word because it’s often meant to stand in for a variety of adjectives, including “smelly [and] undisciplined.” So it was important to me as a fat kid to be able to deny those other ascriptions.
Now more than 20 years later, I’ve let go of so many “have to”s about my body, the biggest one being the idea that I have to lose weight before I can do, be, and have a variety of things. I don’t see losing weight as a precondition to happiness anymore, which has been hugely transformative. And yet, I find it interesting when these other “have to”s come up. Things like letting go of the “have to” of washing my hair every day has actually deepened my appreciation and approval of my body. I know that if I work through the resistance and let go of the “have to,” big things happen. Sometimes the littlest action yield big results.
So I’d like to challenge you to let go of one of your appearance-related “have to”s. This can be really challenging, so I would recommend trying it out for even half a day first. Just notice how you feel, what feels different, what fears come up. This can be really magical. And I’m not suggesting anything I haven’t tried myself. (And I know that for some of you, these things will not be challenging at all or are just part of your daily life, while for others this will be much more difficult.) Here are a couple of suggestions, just to start you off:
- Go out wearing no makeup (or a lot less makeup than you usually do).
- Try a no-poo option for a few days.
- Go out without wearing a bra or with a much less constructed bra than usual.
- Go “commando.”
- Go much longer without shaving your legs or underarms.
- Stop wearing deodorant.
- Wear an outfit that is more form fitting than you’re used to.
- Wear an outfit that is baggier/looser than you’re used to.
- Wear an outfit that draws attention to a body part that you normally hide.
- If you normally straighten your hair, try letting it be curly, or vice versa.
These relatively simple action steps can feel like a huge deal, but they can also yield big reward and be extremely freeing. Let me know what you try and how it went on my Facebook page!
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/free to get your free download – Golda’s Top Ten Tips For Divine Dining!