When I was a teenager living in my parents house, they told me how to look and even how they wanted me to BE. At one point I recall my father yelling at me to stop being weird. I asked him how I should BE. He looked confused and said, “just stop being how you are”.
When a young man and dating, I met and came under the influence of a woman. She did not like how my hair was. Ok I changed that. Then she complained about how I walked and some other things. Only after we broke up shortly after all that I saw what she was trying to do: Make me be another person. Just as my parents had not liked who I was (it seemed).
After that break-up I found a way how I liked to look. It felt right. I experimented over the years with long hair and a beard. Never a mustache man. Even as an adult my parents would criticize me for how I looked. When my mother was dying of cancer, she let it be known she wanted to see me clean cut looking with no beard or long hair. Hearing that from my sister, that same day I got my long hair cut off and my beard shaved off and went to see mom before she died. It was a worthwhile change to make for someone else.
After mom died, I changed again: I shaved my head. I liked it. After that I would at times go full clean shaved head or shaved head and beard. It was freedom. This freedom in how I look helped me to look at others and appreciate THEIR freedom of how they looked. Tattoos. Piercings and all manner of hair styles. It made me let go of some of my personal bigotries about appearance.
Recently I let all the hair on my head and face grow. I look … scraggly and rough. As long as the hair does not get into my mouth, fine. I will probably shave my head again soon. Yesterday I got a flash from my past when a woman on-line suggested that I would look better without the beard. I said yes I would but this is how I am NOW. I like this ME. She wanted me to change because SHE thought I would look better. Flash backs to my past. So many people letting it be known how I SHOULD look. From the earliest days of dad screaming at me and hitting me when I did not want to get a hair cut to the subtle manipulative attempts to get me to change how I look and … AM.
I shut the woman out.
I don’t need that shit from anyone at my age.
It was liberating that I did not need that bullshit of others trying to make me change how I look. HOW we look is a freedom. We all need to embrace it and even explore and be creative with it, I feel. But hey no tattoos no piercings. Just not my thing but if others like that stuff? Fine! Enjoy looking and being how YOU ARE.