My teenage daughter recently got a “cut” in her eyebrow. At first, I didn’t know what she meant when she said she wanted to do it, so she showed me a few pictures. That night, her father took her to the salon and she got a slit shaved in her brow. I love it, she loves it, and now she wants two cuts in her brow– I told her to go for it.
After going to school the next day with her new eyebrow do, she told me a few of her friends told her they didn’t like it and asked her if it was done on purpose. I could tell by her expression she was fine with it, but wanted to check in anyway.
“Do you still love it?” I asked her.
“Oh yes!” she said. “I still want to get another one in a few weeks.”
“Okay, that’s what we’ll do then,” I told her.
She’s had blue hair, we’ve bleached just her ends a platinum blonde, and currently she is sporting a lovely shade of red she was drawn to after watching me dye my hair red after I took her to see the movie, Pitch Perfect 3— Brittney Snow had the perfect shade of red in that film, and hours after leaving the movie, so did my daughter and I.
She also has a few piercings in each ear and hates wearing dresses. She knows what her style is, and at 13, I certainly can say that’s a lot further along than I was. Back then, I wanted to fit in, follow the crowd, and didn’t want to stand out too much.
But now, as a woman approaching her mid-forties, I only have time to think about how I want to use my body to express myself. It took me a lot longer to get here than it has for my kids, but I model that for them by wearing what I want, even crop tops and leather pants, despite what other people might think about how a mother of three should dress.
Last Summer, I got a large tattoo on my left shoulder after my divorce. It was spur of the moment, yet something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I cried the whole time the ink was being injected into my skin, not because I was sad, but because it was cathartic. And I find great comfort in expressing myself through my body.
If I believe in giving that gift to myself, and I believe want my kids to feel comfortable enough to do it, too.
My youngest son paints his toe nails. My older son wears tank tops in the middle of winter because he works hard on his biceps curls. He likes to grow out his unruly curly hair and I never make him get it cut unless it’s his idea– he’s comfortable in tank tops with a large amount of hair on his head; he feels like himself, and that’s all I care about.
And if he came home today and wanted to shave it all off, that would be okay, too.
We are talking about hair, piercings, and clothing of our kids’ style choices. We aren’t talking about harming themselves, or doing anything that will hurt anyone else.
We all want to be comfortable in our skin, and our teens are going through what might be the most uncomfortable time of their lives. I say give them that hair and look they want.
Maybe some people look at teens who have colored their hair purple, are sporting an undercut, and have an eyebrow ring and think unbecoming thoughts, but the truth is, that body is theirs to decorate as they please. I won’t argue with them for wearing certain things (unless they have profanity or derogatory language).
Because in the long run, it’s not going to matter how many holes they put in their body, what they wore, or what color they wore their hair.
I don’t care if other parents look at my kids and think they aren’t disciplined or assume they are jerks because they have a certain look that might not fit into some box.
What will matter is they have the self-confidence to express themselves with the body they were given.
What will matter is they were supported to be who they want to be. That starts with what we put on our body; and it should belong to only us.