How Burning Your Hair Off Could Make You Beautiful

Tori Locklear Burning Her Hair Off

Early last Saturday morning, I was at the gym when a friend sent me a YouTube clip. Needing a good laugh, I watched it. I’ve heard people say you can’t eat while you’re crying. Well, I can now add: you can’t do push-ups while you’re laughing…

Tori Locklear Burns Her Hair Off

On Monday, February 18, Tori Locklear, a middle school student in Florida, posted a YouTube video tutorial for curling hair. Except it wasn’t your typical video tutorial. In the midst of the 109-second video, she makes one pretty critical mistake: she burns her hair right off.

[Click the video immediately above this line to watch it. If it doesn’t appear in your feed or e-mail, click here to watch the video at UnTangled.]

By last Saturday morning, the video had begun to go viral, and within one week, it had been viewed more than 12 million times and the young lady had appeared on the morning talk show circuit.

“Virality” is, of course, what so many YouTubing teens are hoping for these days. Yet, I’m certain the clip didn’t go viral because she wanted it to. I think it went viral because of one basic truth of existence: our mistakes make us beautiful.

Our Mistakes Make Us Beautiful        

We secretly believe we have to be fixed before we can be beautiful. But the opposite is true. Our brokenness is an integral part of our beauty, because:

Our mistakes make us human. When she realizes her hair has come off and begins to go through the full range of human horror—from stunned shock to a flash of sadness to a kind of angry resignation—she reveals her humanity. Our perfect veneers keep us separate and lonely. So, when we experience the broken, fragile, and beautiful humanity in others, we feel a sense of connection. It may even connect us with the broken-beautiful humanity within ourselves.

Our mistakes make us interesting. If Tori had ended up with a perfect curl and posted the video to YouTube, she would have gotten a hundred views from her closest friends and family. There are—probably quite literally—a million beauty tutorials on the web. They’re instructional, but they aren’t interesting. Tori is interesting to us because her mistake made her unique. We all have our own unique set of mistakes, and that makes each one of us incredibly interesting.

Our mistakes make us courageous. The video was an epic fail, yet she posted it anyway. And I adore her courage. Our mistakes make us vulnerable. They are the chinks in our armor, so we spend most of our time hiding them. Tori did the opposite. She embraced her mistake and made it available for a global audience. This might sound ridiculous, but I think that kind of courage can change the world.

Our mistakes make us joyful. Happiness is what happens when everything in life is lining up just right. Unfortunately, life always regresses to chaos, and usually pretty quickly. So happiness becomes this fleeting experience that we’re always struggling to hold on to. Joy, on the other hand, is not dependent upon any kind of circumstance. It’s the belly laugh in the midst of our sorrows and failures and disappointments. Without mistakes and disappointments, there is no possibility for joy. I couldn’t do my push-ups because joy had me shaking with laughter.

Our Cracks Let the Light Out

I walked out of the gym last Saturday morning still giggling. As I approached my car, I stopped short and my laughter died away. 

My car was parked in a line of seven cars. Every single one was a four-door sedan of exactly the same silver color, with slightly different makes and models. They looked essentially identical. And it occurred to me: “Without our mistakes and miscues and foibles, humanity would look like this line of cars: identical and boring and bland.”

Leonard Cohen sang, “There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” I think he may have told us only half of the truth, though. Because I think there is a crack in everything, and that’s also how the light gets out.

Tori Locklear has given us all an opportunity to look inside, to see the light we carry within us, and to see our cracks—our mistakes and failures and disappointments—in an entirely new way. They aren’t something to be ashamed of or to hide beneath pristinely coiffed hair or a perfect public image.

Our cracks are the place our light gets out. The world doesn’t need another perfect person; it needs the light pouring out of every one of your mistakes.

Thanks, Tori, for the reminder.

Why do you think the video went viral? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post.        

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The Mess: The messy places in life—and the messy places within ourselves—present us with a choice. Because the mess is where our shame collides with grace. We can choose to succumb to shame. Or we can fight back. Come visit The Mess, and join the rebellion against shame. And as always, thank you for reading; it’s a gift. Sincerely, Kelly

Preview: I pre-empted my next post, “How to Transform Marital Conflict into Common Ground,” with this one. The “Common Ground” post is now scheduled for this Friday, March 1. 

Other Posts Related to Brokenness and Beauty

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Carrie

    Thank you! I was hit by a tidal wave of shame yesterday. I could hear my therapist telling me, “Don’t go there. I told you not to go there.” Then I reminded myself that it was not helping me to be there. I got myself out by not allowing myself to think those thoughts. This post is even better. Rather than avoid those thoughts, I think about how much I love the humanness of others, how endearing it makes them. And I realize that grace for myself is certainly in order. I think of my dad when he does the same things that I feel such shame about and I know how much I love him, not in spite of this, but because this is who he is. Thank you for embracing mistakes and calling them beautiful.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Carrie, This is so true. We appreciate the mistakes we see in others but fail to realize others will appreciate our own. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  • Debbie

    Such a great post, and so very true! I never trust the people who are putting on a perfect show. It makes me wonder what is hiding underneath all of the perfectness. I have so much more trust for people who are not afraid to show who they really are.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Debbie, I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense that people who allow themselves to known as imperfect do feel more trustworthy. Thanks for this insight.

  • Kortney

    A couple of thoughts while reading this post…

    When I saw Carrie burn her hair off, I laughed out loud. then I thought to myself, “that wasn’t very kind.” Then I asked myself, why are you laughing at her? And it dawned on me, I wasn’t laughing bc it’s funny that she’s sad that she burned her hair off, I was laughing bc I’ve been in so many similar situations, where all you can do is laugh and get over it. It reminded me of my own mistake and imperfections and that warms my heart.

    “The world doesn’t need another perfect person; it needs the light pouring out of every one of your mistakes.”

    This is just another way of saying something I say all the time when people ask how I deal with having a mentally and physically handicap sister (who happens to be one of the kindest people I have ever known), “The world has enough smart people, we need more kind people.”

    Thank you for your posts Dr. Kelly.

    • drkellyflanagan

      You’re welcome, Kortney. And thanks for what you do to call attention to our need to arrange our priorities, from perfection and intelligence to kindness. Blessings upon you and your sister.

  • Dr. Danielle Bauer

    Our mistakes make us stronger and smarter for the next go-around too!

    Dr. Danielle Bauer
    http://www.drdlbauer@gmail.com

    • drkellyflanagan

      Yes, I like that! Our mistakes make us PREPARED.

  • Eileen Knowles

    That’s awesome! Yes, I couldn’t agree more, mistakes make us beautiful. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Heather

    A good and thoughtful post, thank you. I appreciate that your posts go right to the meat of the matter without a lot of fluff. It reminded me of a post that my husband wrote last year – http://brericocc.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/canon-of-ugliness/

    • drkellyflanagan

      Thanks, Heather! And I’ll look forward to checking out your husband’s post!

  • Penny Vaea

    Love this post. You have me looking at mistakes and flaws in a whole new light. On the other hand I don’t think all flaws and imperfections make a person beautiful and interesting..some flaws are quite hideous..but I do get the general sense you are trying to share here…thank you for this great insight…

    • drkellyflanagan

      You’re welcome, Penny! The post is definitely trying to serve as a corrective for our tendency to assume all of our flaws are hideous. Thanks for pointing out the need for nuance!