Will A Haircut Transform My Life?

Anyone for a haircut? "Image courtesy of [franky242] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".
Anyone for a haircut?
“Image courtesy of [franky242] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.
 Among other things, it has been on my mind this week that I need to get a haircut.  Badly.  I hate getting my haircut.  It’s worse than going to the dentist for me, so even thinking about it is difficult.  Actually I hate it so much that while I know a haircut would improve my appearance, I’m sure it does nothing else for me than raise my anxiety levels, not to mention the trauma of putting myself through the ordeal.  I even wonder if Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a possibility.

So I was curious when I saw this story was the ‘most shared‘ on Facebook on Veterans Day this past week.  This You Tube clip has been viewed almost 14 million times.  A haircut has gone viral on social media.

Here’s a homeless veteran with a history of alcoholism. He was given a makeover back in September, and the results were scheduled to be released on social media on Veterans Day. It was timed to fit with a campaign to raise funds for veterans (by getting a haircut).  The social agency (Dégagé Ministries) involved happened to also make a substantial amount from donations from the social media activity.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m really pleased for the man.  He got his haircut, some new clothes including a leather jacker apparently, and he finally got listed for some housing  And he’s started going to AA meetings.  That’s great.  Except I’ve got this nagging sense of ‘there’s something not quite right here‘.  I’m wondering was it the haircut that meant this man finally got some help?

Why does he have to change his appearance in order to hit the big time on social media? He’s still the same person inside.  Why does a trimmed beard and highlighted hair enter him into the great social media hall of fame?  I just don’t get it.  14 million people watched this particular clip but there are plenty of other news sites also carrying the story, and particularly the haircut.

In my mind what matters is the person inside.  His appearance doesn’t count for anything.  Somehow because he put on a tie, he has become acceptable and maybe even ‘one of us’.  I wonder though, how he feels.  Social media are raving about the haircut (as I am, ironically) but who cares about the obviously broken man inside?  That’s what matters, surely.

I could go on about this but really I just wonder, am I the only one who thinks we’ve got something wrong here?  What do you think? Is it necessary to get a haircut, in order to access welfare services that should be available regardless of how he looks?

Social media is really good for lots of things, but I really wonder whether we’ve lost sight of what matters.  In my mind the haircut means nothing.  It’s healing the wounds inside and meeting the basic needs of life that will really make this man’s life live-able for him.  If the rest of us want a makeover show then there’s plenty on reality television.

As for me, I guess I’ll eventually get that haircut, but I doubt it will go viral.  I won’t be putting it on YouTube.  I know you’re disappointed, but I’m relieved.

“Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.” 

― Aesop


18 thoughts on “Will A Haircut Transform My Life?

  1. Hi Cate. Your post discusses an interesting topic. How, and more importantly, why does our appearance matter? I’m not sure why they do, as I agree that the person inside is more important. I know, however, that looks do matter. For some reason, the man in the video didn’t get help until he got a “makeover”. I find that surprising because I have found that when I leave the house with my hair “done” (which isn’t much for me), makeup on, clean clothes, etc., people see only my neat and clean appearance. It does not occur to them that, behind the hair, makeup and clothes, I am sick. This is true even with my doctors and therapists. I have been told that I would feel better and see improvement in my symptoms if I put makeup on first thing in the morning and get fully dressed! As if prettying up the outside fixes the inside.

    On a different note, I actually love going to get my hair cut. I have an amazing stylist, not only for her talent, but because she is a very caring person. I love the feel of having someone wash my hair, massage my scalp and neck, and comb, brush and style my hair. It’s relaxing, not a traumatic experience. For me. For you, it must be terribly painful, and I don’t necessarily mean physically, and I can understand why you would avoid it. However, even for me, it is a feeling that lasts maybe a few hours and then all the rest emerges from behind the mask.

    1. Hey there. YOu’re quite right and it has always amazed me how easily fooled some people can be. Make-up and hair done somehow mean you’re fine, and as you say, even for health professionals. Actually I get a bit frustrated when I am judged to be ok just because of what I wear.

      I don’t understand why the man in the video only for his help once the make-over was done. Perhaps I was missing something of the story but that just says ‘wrong!’ to me. And it says, what about all the other people that never get the makeover?

      I’m glad when I hear that some people love the experience of getting their hair done, although am also amazed because to be honest I just can’t see anything enjoyable about it. Proves to me that perhaps I should think about things differently and it might change my experience. But then I’ve tried that and still hate it all… 😦

      1. Katherine

        If it was that simple, I never would have been sick! As I Mentioned, a “hair day” is always a treat for me, but that feeling doesn’t change my life. It’s temporary. Right now, I see silver roots and bangs that have grown too long…but, it doesn’t bother me as much as it does any of the women I know. I more concerned about my inner self.

        I know I haven’t posted in a very long time. All of my writing has been a private “pouring” of my feelings, thoughts, etc. following Donald’s death. I’m working on some ideas for a blog dealing with a mother’s grief, suicide awareness, complicated grief, … Hope to put it into place before the end of the year.

      2. You know that makes total sense to me. I’ve never been in the situation you are in but I imagine that many of your thoughts and feelings would be very private. Take your time and don’t worry about your blog. When the time is right to start again, you’ll know. Meanwhile you are in my thoughts and prayers. ❤

  2. John Richardson

    It’s not the haircut itself, it’s the fact that he was willing to have it. The fact that he was willing to go to AA. The fact that he was willing.

    1. I guess I don’t see why he needed to change his appearance in order to be accepted to get help. Society seems to be saying that you have to look a certain way to be acceptable and worthy of help. I think that is quite sad.

  3. thescreamingpumpkin

    Hi Cate,

    I can totally understand your point of view. It is indeed the person inside that matters, not the external presentation. With that being said, however, sometimes remembering the beauty within requires a good polishing without. Looking good can really boost self-esteem and, some claim, even health. It is the guiding principal of the Look Good, Feel Better program that the American Cancer Society started. My wife has been working with cancer patients for years and they do feel better about themselves after having a mini-makeover. And feeling good about themselves, in theory, is supposed to help them feel better overall.

    I agree that what is within is the magic, but sometimes our outlook on life changes when we present our “best face”. When that man looked into the mirror, I wonder what he saw. Was it his younger self that he had imagined gone? Was it the potential he had to offer his own future? I don’t know what it was, but I’m glad he had a glimpse of whatever it was that motivated him to action.

    1. I think you might have a point there. The Look Good, Feel Better programme runs in New Zealand too, and I’ve heard some good reports. I wonder though whether it’s different when you’re talking about a physical illness compared to what I am guessing is emotionally and mentally based. Of course there is so much that we’re guessing on when it comes to this story and it would be nice to have all the facts. The video puts across that the physical makeover is the big thing. Personally I’d like to think that the other issues were the priority. I’m still not convinced that there needs to be a right way to look. As you say, it would be interesting to know what the man made of all this. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Hi Cate,

    I am so glad I clicked on your blog!! I LOVED this video. It touched my heart it almost made me cry.

    I worked with homeless people from 1985 – 2012. This is what I saw in this video, from my own working knowledge of working with long term entrenched rough sleepers. First of all, its not just a hair cut. Its about belief. Its about someone believing in him enough, to put the time, and the effort into him. It is about how he felt about himself. You saw HIS face in the mirror, as soon as he saw himself. He physically looked younger. It is about how he would have felt about himself (that person in the mirror) I write about how to reclaim that person in the mirror…. and his face (that was the part that touched me) – well that, and what was written afterwards that touched me. How he is going to get housing, how he is managing his alcohol. Perhaps… maybe when someone started believing in him – he thought he was worth believing in. I have seen this in my work. Ok, we didn’t technically give them a haircut…. but in other senses, we would get clothes, but it was the other things that were important. These are the things that matter. When someone is long term homeless – they become how they look, they are judged by how they look. They become that person. And that is very very difficult to get out of. Because they are judged by others and therefore not given a chance.

    It is not right… but I saw the difference in people. Many had said to me, you listened to me, you believed in me, and now – I am going to try. Sometimes people can get stuck in a funk or a zone…. and once in that it can be difficult to get out of. You are labelled. Say if this guy came into my work (and I worked with hundreds if not thousands throughout that time) – we wouldn’t judge him. We would do all that we could to get the housing, the alcohol counselling, we would work towards support plans, and help to get goals. BUT if that person doesn’t believe in themselves. If they are treated like dirt, spat on, nothing is ever going to change. What changed in this video for me – was the spark how he saw himself in the mirror…. what changed was his own self belief by someone believing in him,

    Am sorry I wrote an essay… I got carried away there. Its just a topic I feel really passionate about…. also a timely reminder to me (and perhaps another reason why it is popular) that I have been through enough – its time for ME to have a haircut etc… I love it. What great video.

    1. Hi PG, Thanks for clicking on my blog and for following. And thank you for your “essay” giving your perspective. Essay’s are always welcome so don’t be worried by that. And you offer a unique perspective from your working history which I appreciate because it answers a few of my questions about he might have felt about the make-over along with the assistance. I guess what I’m not convinced about is whether everyone wants to look at particular way. That said I’m really glad that he got the opportunity to be helped. Thanks again for the follow. I’m honoured, because your blog is so helpful to me and I respect your opinion greatly. Cate.

    1. Thanks for sharing your link. I can understand exactly where you’re coming from and it makes sense. I guess I just have this nagging question in my mind whether a haircut is really the highest priority for someone in that position. Yes, the change of look would help how he feels about himself but I’m not convinced that there aren’t more important issues, unless we as a society judge someone only on their outward appearance. I don’t know the answer but I’m enjoying the discussion. 🙂

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