JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

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March 15th, 2004 · 1 Comment

In English class during my junior year of high school, my teacher wanted us to learn the word “epiphany”. It was a vocabulary word but also fit with the novel we were reading, Free Fall , in which the main character searches his life for that revelatory moment. So the teacher assigned each student the task of coming up with a personal example of an epiphany: a story to tell to the class. I’d get a bit nervous back then when speaking in class, and if I close my eyes I can still see the seat I had in the room, who was in my view as I shared my revelation.

I think of my epiphany story whenever I see pictures of myself as a little girl. My baby book has been sitting out on my desk for a while so I’ve had a chance to flip through the photographs. All it takes is a glimpse of myself when I was three or four and I remember….

When I was about eight or nine, it was a turmoil time for me. I felt ugly. I had huge purple glasses that dominated my face and made my nose bleed with their weight. Kids called me “Four Eyes” and other nice names. I had a cute baby sister who was getting a lot of attention. And my father had just left.

girlphone.jpgAt my home, on top of the piano, there were stacks of plastic photo cubes, filled with pictures from my younger days. I saw the photos of me when I was three. I had short hair with bangs. Chatting on a toy telephone. Playing with a puppy. To my eight year old self, these seemed like happy days. This was before my baby brother had become sick. Before my father had left. Before I had to wear big purple glasses and be a parent-of-sorts to my younger siblings.

And I thought to myself, maybe if I cut my hair short, like it was when I was younger, maybe I would feel as happy as I did. Maybe if I looked like I was three, I would feel like I did when I was three. Maybe if I changed my hair, I’d change me.

So I got my hair cut. Short. And all I felt was uglier. I realized – quickly – that changing my hair had not changed me. It only made me more miserable. My glasses seemed even bigger on my face. And I felt even more rejected.

I thought I learned that lesson years ago. But the other day I found myself reading an article in the Seattle Times describing how bangs are back in style. I need to go get my ends trimmed anyway. And before I realized it, I found myself flirting with finding a new hair style. All it takes is phrases like Bangs accentuate the eyes and cheekbones and can flatter a variety of face shapes. and I start thinking how I could use a new look…and a new me…

Then I remembered the epiphany I had at age eight…hair styles may change but some things stay the same.

Tags: journal

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Mar 16, 2004 at 11:43 am

    But there’s nothing wrong with getting a hair cut or changing your look just for fun. Hair grows back, so it’s not irreversible or anything. I think changing styles once in a while is nice. It makes people have to change their stored mental image of you in their brain files. Good exercise 🙂 A friend recently got her brown hair highlighted so it looks blond and I had to update my mental files b/c I didn’t recognize her from behind. And personally I cut about 10 inches off my hair every 3 years, in a cycle…I just like a change every now and then 🙂 I’m in the middle of the cycle at the moment – grown about 5 inches so far. Of course if this is what I always do, I guess it’s not a change anymore.