“OH MY GOD!” a sixteen-year-old high school student yelled when she saw me on Monday morning. “You aren’t Thor anymore! You look like the hulk!” she screamed so loud I was sure the entire school could hear. “Or a huge version of Mr. Calhoun,” she said nonchalantly, and then moved on.
My recent haircut, although it was quite a change, got me thinking of (and was actually inspired by) the question: why is it that we tie up so much of our identity in how we look?
I decided to grow my hair out immediately after finishing my football career. The main reason? So that I wouldn’t look like a football player anymore. I was tired of having the identity of a football player, and I wanted a fresh start. The easiest way for me to get away from the prejudice (yes, it is found on the Brown University campus somewhere) I found against football players was to change my look. Unfortunately, my giant frame and turkey-burger calves weren’t going to change. So my hair was an easy option. The other reason was simply because I was afraid I was soon to go bald, so I thought “I might as well enjoy hair while I have it!”
Well, I realized that I wanted to work on that very thing – just being me. Yes, I feel that having long hair helped me fight that battle in a way. But at the same time, I felt like it had become too much of a part of my identity and in some ways, my statement. So, I decided that I needed to work on being me no matter what I look like, so I first shaved my beard and kept a mustache. Then, I just cut the whole damn beard and all the hair, too. Damn it feels good.
Just for amusement sake, here are a few funny images I found of myself. Enjoy :)
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