“Dear Children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18 (NIV)
I have hair extensions. Whew, I said it. It’s a little scary for me to write this, because I’m admitting out loud to people whom I don’t know (and probably some that I do) that I just don’t feel good enough without them. Yikes, that is a scary statement.
I first tried a few pieces in November of 2011, a few weeks before we started filming for Duck Dynasty, thinking maybe they would help my own hair grow longer and look better on TV. Then during the first few days of filming, one of the producers asked me if I would be open to getting a full set at their expense. Of course, I agreed. Even now, after we are finished with the show, I get them at my own expense. Why? Because I absolutely love having long hair. I feel more like Missy with long hair. I had long hair as a child, through middle school and high school and all the way up until I had my first baby. Then those hormones started to change things.
When I was pregnant with Mia, things took a huge turn. After she was born, my hair started falling out in huge amounts and very quickly. By the time of her first surgery at 3 months old, I felt like I looked completely different. Maybe it was the stress of having a special needs baby who demanded my time, attention and emotional stability every minute of every day. My daughter being born with an open cavity as a mouth and nose meant that I had to make sure she kept breathing when she was awake and asleep, eating without choking 8 times a day, not gagging on her own spit-up in between and traveling to/from doctors to learn about her condition and how to care for her, all while recovering from my own Cesarean surgery and trying myself to heal. It’s a wonder I had any hair left at all.
(the day we brought Mia home from the hospital)
(the day before her first surgery - 3 months later)
The bigger problem was, even after 8 years of our new normal, my hair had never recovered. This made me feel inadequate. It made me feel unpretty. Why, you ask? I asked myself the same question for all those years. I knew in my heart that I was enough, that God made me to be enough. But when I looked in the mirror or ran a brush through my hair, my head would tell me “you should do something about this”. So, when a producer from Hollywood offered to pay for them, I quickly agreed. What did I have to lose? She obviously saw what I had been seeing for a long time, but that didn’t hurt my feelings. It actually validated them: I can be prettier with more hair.
Is it wrong to want to feel pretty? I’ve struggled with that question, too. Shouldn’t I be getting my self-worth from my Creator? Yes. Shouldn’t He fill my every desire and need? Yes. So why do I want hair? I kept referring back to how the Bible says that “if a woman has long hair, it is to her glory.” I Corinthians 11:15 (NIV). I didn’t feel like I had that glory.
This past summer I was sitting in the Fox and Friends hair and makeup chair before an on-air interview, and the sweet ladies there were complimenting me, telling me how pretty my eyes were and admiring my dress. I’ve never taken compliments well (something that drives Jase crazy), and I started feeling very uncomfortable. I thought, if you only knew what I really looked like under all this. Then, one of them said, “You have really beautiful hair.” And there it was. Hanging out there for everyone in the room to pounce on. So, I said kind of quietly, “Most of it’s bought.”
She quickly responded with, “That’s okay, Hon. Everybody’s is.”
Ha! What? You mean, I’m not the only one? I’m not even in the minority? Nope, at least not in the celebrity world.
As a Christian we know the Bible tells us to be truthful and honest. That’s not just with words but also with our actions. As women, we are bombarded with images of the perfect people. Perfect bodies. Perfect skin with no wrinkles. Perfect teeth. Perfect hair. Have you ever wondered if those perfect bodies we see on social media every day aren’t all that real? Of course you have. We all have. Fake breasts, false teeth, Botox-filled faces, butt-enhancing filters (I just learned about that one. Why someone wants to fake a bigger backside is a mystery to me!) and hair extensions.
I have hair extensions. I could tell you that I have them because Jase likes me with them, but that would be false. He couldn’t care less. Even while typing this, I’m sitting on my couch in non-matching warm-ups, zero make-up and my hair in what’s left of a ponytail I went to sleep in last night. I can assure you it’s not my best look, nowhere even close. Jase just walked in from his morning duck hunt and said, “Hey, Cutie.” And he’s serious. He loves the way I look no matter how I look. While I’ve come to appreciate that about him, I still hold onto my own validation.
Please understand that I am looking neither for sympathy nor admiration by telling you this. Here is what my purpose is: authenticity. I have learned more about this subject over the past few years than I ever have before. This new world of social media, selfies and filters have literally taken the word authenticity completely out of the equation. What is real and what is fake? Do we even know anymore? Do our children and grandchildren know anymore? Will the next generation EVER know? My children and I have committed to letting social media take a back seat in our lives for 2018. Cole said it so perfectly when he was home for Christmas. He said, “Mom, after not checking Instagram for a while, I got back on it today, and the very first thing that popped up was someone I know bragging about things they’ve been doing. And I said, ‘nope, I’m out.’ That’s what bothers me about it: you can be whoever you want to be on social media. It doesn’t even have to be true.”
Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where George gets a toupee? He strutted around most of the episode making fun of bald people until finally Elaine had enough. She questioned George’s behavior and reminded him that he was bald, too. He said, “No, I WAS bald. Now I have hair.” She snatched it off his head, threw it out the window and a truck ran over it. The audience erupted with cheers and laughter. Not because he lost the toupee but because Elaine quickly reminded him of the obvious. George became arrogant because of a physical feature and had treated people without hair as suddenly less than him. That’s a lesson for all of us. Whether we improve ourselves with other products or we happen to be born with great physical features, the moment we make others feel less important is the moment we damage our own integrity. Our true authenticity is revealed--the authenticity of our heart.
Today we are bombarded with Fake News from professional media outlets, but they didn’t start the trend. Even our own government officials say whatever they want to in hopes we’ll believe it’s true. But we can’t lay the blame on them either. It may have well started within our own homes and on our own social media accounts.
Sooner or later, people will know whether we are authentic or not. Why is this such a big deal? Because God tells us that people “will know we are His disciples by our love for one another” (John 13:35 NIV), not by the beautiful pictures we post or the poignant words of wisdom we say on social media.
How do we treat the people around us?
Do we say the right thing to their face but do what serves us best when they aren’t looking?
Do we show others that we value them, not by what they can add to our lives but by adding to theirs?
If you value your own social status, number of followers and perfect photos, honesty and authenticity will matter very little to you. However, if you value people and your relationships with them, you will be genuine and authentic, treating them with the same respect that you desire and expect from them. Those are the actions that will make those relationships stronger and more meaningful. When our lives on earth are done, I don’t think we’ll be reminiscing about all the admiration we received from our social media posts, blogs or YouTube videos. We’ll be remembering all the relationships that enhanced our quality of life. I don’t want people to just know about me. I want them to know me. The real me. My life is beautiful and messy all at the same time. To portray anything different would be fake.
Authentic: (from dictionary.com)
- not false or copied; genuine; real:
- having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified:
- representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified:
- entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy:
Read those again. This list of meanings brings a bit of sadness to my heart. The value put on these words is disappearing. I feel we’ve already lost so much of this in our culture, and we’re losing more every day. What can we do to bring these back? What can we do to turn this trend around?
My family has decided to claim the word “Authenticity” for 2018. Would you like to join us? It starts by admitting one of your flaws, no matter how substantial or silly it may seem. Admit it to yourself first. Then, if you have the guts, admit it to someone else. Maybe even on social media.
Who knows? We may even start a movement! Fake News took over 2017. Let’s try to make 2018 the year of authenticity!
Do you have the guts?
I have hair extentions. They make me feel prettier. I wasn’t born with great hair. I’m afraid you’ll think I’m shallow after reading this. I’m human. I’m flawed. I’m working on things. Maybe one day I’ll feel comfortable enough to let them go. But until then, this is me being authentic.
Join the movement.