My head is covered in a garden of unruly curls. Sometimes they fall in ringlets around my face and sometimes they turn into a cloud of frizz which gives me a natural halo – haha. Due to the unpredictability of the portable garden on top of my head, I recently found myself prowling the children’s aisle in a local shop looking for some aids to tame it. As I stood in front of an array of pink clips, butterfly Alice-bands and leopard-print scrunchies, I spied my heart’s desire sitting quite out of view on the lowest shelf – small, clear crocodile clips that would train my curls to form flowing tresses through rain or shine. I was excited! And yet, these discrete “gardeners” got my thinking… thinking about dominion, man’s dominion, and whether it would be right to say that I was exercising dominion over my hair.
Now, to give you a bit of context: I would consider myself to be a lover of the natural: mountains, trees, flowers, clouds – untouched by man’s (often corrupting) hands – make me smile from ear-to-ear. Although, I do not wear animal skins and eat locusts, I cannot be considered fashion forward. And so, while driving through town this week, I asked my husband whether he can “see” God in the buildings, roads, tennis courts, shops and various other eyesores that we passed. “It’s a sign of man’s dominion,” he said, “a sign of man’s mark on the earth.” And this got my thinking about my hair (LOL!). Would it be right to say that I am exercising dominion over my hair? Improving it, shaping it, changing it for the better?
Another thought that occurred to me: Eden was described as a garden. It was cultivated, shaped and kept in order by Adam. I assume that as the Lord walked in the cool of the day, He would have enjoyed the manicured setting as opposed to rough ground and wild vegetation. With the barrage of publicized makeovers, cosmetic surgery and beauty products advertised through the media, it seems that I am not the only one pondering the question of personal cultivation. As a Christian, I believe that God made me and was glad about my appearance. My hair colour and skin tone are complementary to one another and I am yet to meet a woman (or man) whose natural tones are not complementary. Having viewed many televised makeovers, I would say that the trend of cutting a woman’s hair short and dying it red often does little for her overall “new” appearance.
And yet, au naturel is not always best. Brushing my garden of head curls is a daily ritual because I look better with brushed hair. Most women look beautiful naturally but are enhanced by light make up. I’m sure we have all seen the tangerine individuals addicted to sun beds and men and women alike that wear layers of make-up worthy of pick axe removal. I do not have to point out the abuses of beauty products. My question is how far one should go to improve (or exercise dominion) over what we look like physically? Some Christians are inclined to look scruffy and generally unkempt, while others are perfectly manicured cosmopolitans that look shinier than waxed runway legs.
I must admit that clothing which suits your body type can help you instantly shed a few dress sizes and there are hairstyles to suit all face shapes, GHDs to smooth frizz into attractive sleekness and mascara to lengthen humble eye lashes. To be honest, women (and men) just. do. look. better. when they put in a little effort. Forgive the following deliberate simplification but, in my opinion, the reason why most people are buying magazines is because the person on the cover looks gorgeous! There is something inherently attractive about a well-kept face and body. Displaying your naked skin on a magazine cover is obviously not admirable but having a body worthy of display might be. The attraction that all people feel towards a toned body may hint at how we’re all wired (wired to look at beautiful things?) and say something about true image bearing. Is it right to assume that we should enhance our appearances as Adam enhanced Eden’s appearance? Should the garden on my head be a priority? Most people wear make-up and their Sunday best for important occasions such as job interviews, dates and weddings. Now, I am not advocating fad diets, hours of gym and the inevitable narcissism that accompanies making a living out of one’s looks. I’m asking: how can Christians look their best and still remain true image bearers of God, without becoming ‘worldly’? And, can you be a true image bearer of God if you don’t care about your appearance?