Saturday, October 21, 2006

Before and after

before... and after...

So I cut my hair, finally. I had been growing it out for no particular purpose and it was getting crazy and out of control. I tend to hit a point after which no amount of persuasion can convince me to keep my hair long. I had thought I might donate it, if I could grow it that long, but I've done that twice before and I just didn't feel compelled to keep it going for another year or two. I've gotten all kinds of different reactions to the "new" cut - which isn't really new, but just surprising to the kids (and adults) who haven't seen me since it was this short before. There are some reactions to which I'm not sure how to respond. Here are some sample scenarios:

"Hi Andrea," someone says says as the look of panic spreads over his/her/hir face. "Oh my gosh, you cut your hair," as the look of panic turns to horror and a hand reaches toward my head as though I had a gaping head wound. I say, "Isnt it cute?" and smile...

"Did you cut your hair?" I wonder silently what else would have precipitated this change in appearance. Perhaps it all fell out a few weeks ago and is now growing back. Or maybe it retracted into my head. "Yes, isnt it cute," I finally respond.

"What did you do to your hair?" Leaving me no time to speak or respond, the awkwardness continues "Where are the curls? Why did you cut it? Noooooooooooooooooooooooo..."

If you've ever thought about saying something along the lines of "...but you were so pretty before" to anyone who just got an exciting new haircut, you might want to reconsider. If you haven't, you might just want to laugh about how that sounds...

Apart from the reactions of my friends and family, however, I've been thinking a lot about professionalism, and how patients and faculty perceive me. One of our professors, when asked about appropriate dress, repeatedly emphasizes that we should dress "as our grandmothers would want their physicians to dress." I don't interpret this to mean my grandmother in particular, but our collective grandmothers. Although I love my grandmother, and appreciate many of the things that women of her generation did so that I could be here in medical school, I'm not sure that means I should grow out my hair and start wearing skirts because some of them consider it more appropriate. While she might consider that to be significantly more professional looking than my short haircut and pants, I dont know that anyone is looking for a doctor who is so profoundly uncomfortable in her presentation of herself that she is incapable of focusing on anything but her discomfort. And so I've concluded that I look most professional when I am at a happy medium. I have not shaved my hair into a mohawk (though the faux-hawk - - is a favorite style of mine) and generally try to look non-confrontational, but Id rather comfort my patients with competence and kindness than long flowing locks of love.

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