It’s been my trademark since I exited my mother’s womb.
Other than a brief transition from strawberry-kissed to golden yellow, my blond hair has been my most prominent feature.
Picking me out of a class photo from kindergarten is easy — second grade, middle school and high school, too.
Other than a trim here and there, my hair has been the same halfway-down-my-back length. Same dirty blond with gold highlights. And for the first 17 years of my life, I even wore it in the same style: the pony tail.
When I meet someone for the first time, I don’t tell them to spot me by my smile or personality. I tell them to look for the tall blonde.
My hair is obvious. It’s noticeable. It’s me.
It’s so me that when I ran for student government in high school, my slogan was B.L.T. Blonde Leader Taylor. Because all rhyming flys out the window when the only things that rhymes with your name are sailor and jailer…
My long blond locks aren’t just my own. My mane gets me mistaken for my mom, on occasion.
In my mind, she was the blond bombshell – the red-lipstick wearing, champagne toasting, artsy, free-spirited mama of mine.
I never heard her talk about her hair, though. I don’t remember her spending hours styling it, or making a fuss over it looking “just so.”
Her blond was an extension of her, like golden light that just couldn’t keep contained, so it started growing out of her head.
Things changed, however.
I saw the tears, first, then the hairbrush, filled with clumps of yellow.
She had started the chemo treatments.
She was undoubtedly told what would happen.
She had to have known it was coming.
But what could have prepared her for the pieces of herself that were falling away? Each missing hair dissolved what had always been her most striking feature.
Blonde to bald is how it went.
Hair was lost. All of it.
But her spirit, her love, her Joy, was untouched. In fact, I believe those things grew stronger.
My mom could have had brown hair or black, short and curly or styled in dreads. I have a feeling she would have rocked any look.
With hair and without, she was a vessel of hope.
I’ve heard it described that hair can be a display of personality or creativity. In certain cultures, hair can be a sign of wisdom and status. Heck, what your hair looks like when you get out of bed can even influence how you feel about the rest of your day.
But it’s hair.
Per biology, it’s just dead protein, right?
But somehow hair has become more.
It’s beautiful. It’s desired. People spend beaucoup bucks to color their hair, to get it styled to the latest fashion. Uncle Jesse on “Full House” became obsessed with keeping his hair flawless, turning hair into some kind of sex symbol.
But it’s just hair.
And some people lose it.
Does that mean they lose their identity, too? Does that mean they lose their physical attraction, their confidence, their ability to express their style?
What if I lost my hair? What if I could no longer say, “Just look for the tall blonde.”
Would I be okay? Would I still feel like me?
As I stare at the fallen blond strands that seem to glue themselves to my sweaters, planting themselves within the fibers of my carpet, I can’t help but wonder why I feel so attached to being blonde, to having a full head of hair.
So what is hair, really?
This week, several women have graciously offered to share their thoughts on hair and tell us their hair stories.
Because we all have hair stories, even if we don’t have hair right now.
Here’s to hair – to the beauty, the care, the agony and the mystery.