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How donating my hair straightener helped me love myself more

Today I’m writing about an unusual topic for a minimalism blog: my hair.

You might be wondering what my hair has to do with minimalism. Hang with me, friends. There’s a reason. But let me back up a bit…

I started my minimalist journey six years ago, and along the way, I’ve let go of a lot of things… extra towels, coffee cups, lots and lots of clothing. All these things were different, but they all had one very important thing in common:

They were all ways I tried to define myself.

All those towels made me feel “prepared.” And it felt good to view myself as a prepared person.

All those coffee cups matched my dishes, which made me feel “grown-up and successful.” And damn if I hadn’t worked my whole life to become grown-up and successful!

My closet full of clothes I hardly wore made me feel “fashionable.” And what woman doesn’t want to be fashionable?

Yet, the irony is…

None of these things made me more prepared, grown-up, successful, or fashionable.

They often did the opposite, creating stress in the form of more laundry, dishes, decisions, and expenses. All my excess stuff–which was supposed to make my life easier–left me feeling frazzled and like I was stuck in a constant cycle of pickup, launder, wipe down, repeat.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound very prepared, grown-up, successful, or fashionable to me.

I think we can use any type of stuff to define ourselves, and whenever I feel like I’m using a “thing” to generate my self worth, it’s time to evaluate. And lately I’ve realized that one “thing” I’m using to define myself is my hair.

No, I didn’t go all GI Jane and shave it off. Quite the opposite.

I embraced it, just as it is.

I have naturally curly hair, something I’ve fought for most of my adult life. I’ve always felt like my natural hair looks unprofessional or unpolished, so whenever I have an “important event”, like a job interview or TV appearance, I straighten it. It’s like putting on armor or a mask.

(True story: Once in college I even let my sister iron it–with a real iron!)

My straight hair made me feel “professional and beautiful” and who doesn’t want to feel professional and beautiful?

But the truth is…

My hair does not define me any more than my coffee cups or my towels.

And it certainly doesn’t make me more professional or attractive.

My beauty and professionalism–like my sense of success, fashion, and preparedness–comes from inside.

My hair has nothing to do with it. My hair is not another “thing” I need to put on display to bolster my feeling of self-worth or make me more worthy in the eyes of others.

This came to a head when I did my TEDx talk. Sure, I was nervous about speaking in front of 1,300 people… but I’m embarrassed to admit that I was almost more nervous about my hair. I’d been debating for months… Curly or straight?

I’d polled friends, family, even my TEDx mentor. There were no definitive answers.

So I did something I rarely do: consult my husband on a question of fashion.

Normally, my strict no-husband-fashion-question policy is a sound agreement. This, along with our no-serious-talks-after-11pm rule (which, okay, I’ve broken A LOT), is what keeps our marriage together.

But I was desperate.

Surprisingly, Josh’s answer was decisive and quick.

“My wife has curly hair,” he said.

And that was that.

I delivered the biggest speech of my life with my hair curly and free.

Which caused me to wonder… why the heck am I holding on to hair straightening tools? If I can give the biggest talk of my life with my hair looking the way God intended, why do I need them?  

So last week I donated my hair straightener. And took one more step toward the authentic life I want to live. A life where I accept myself as I am, no need to embellish or enhance or try to cover up.

Because I’m fine just the way I am. More than fine, actually. Perfect.

To less stuff and more YOU,


PS Ready to start your own minimalist journey? Get my free minimalist starter guide below! 

PS: If you’re a busy working mom who wants to declutter your home, simplify your work-life, and calm your mind… Sign up for my FREE 30-Day Simplicity Challenge!

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