Whatever you dream to do, be sure to do it well.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hair, Love, and Beauty Myths

I’ve had days where I wish I had the gall of my English advisor from college to shave my head bald. I remember her naked caramel head so easy to spot, beautiful and free from those dead strings that caused me so much trouble time after time. She confided that she was tired of her hair and what it took to figure it out. I nodded then because I understood completely of course. Only two points in my brief history on this earth found me happy about my hair and both were when I had a hairdresser cut it super short.

However, sometime ago I resisted the short crop and desired my hair to grow long, but I did not want to do so with my chemically straightened hair (I’m Black so I’ve had relaxers put in my hair since I was five-years-old to make my hair straight). I wanted my hair to grow long in its natural state. And that folks was where all the trouble, pain, and unforeseen beliefs emerged to shock and terrify me. 

I always like to believe I’m an open, intellectual, forward thinking person. My natural hair possessed a character of its own and proved that there were some areas I needed to work on: love and beauty myths. To spoil the ending, I used a relaxer and killed my natural hair, barely one year old.   

The story begins in the spring of my stay in Korea. I had a rockin’ Mohawk thanks to a hip Korean hairdresser, but my hairstyle grew out in a very awkward state. I thought about a return to that hairstylist but decided against it for a reason I can’t remember. 

My mohawk and I. And coffee!

Several weeks later I found myself very irritable with my hair and took a pair of scissors to it and chopped everything. Had I lost my mind? Maybe. I accumulated much stress from the school I worked for and that might have spilled over to the impatience with my hair. Did I love the cut? Totally. Did I come to regret it? Sadly, yes.

snip, snip, SNIP!
I let the hair grow naturally, determined to stop the conditioned urge to chemically straighten it. In the meantime, I bought and wore a wig to my classes or when I went out and about because it was already enough to attract stares in Korea due to my skin tone without garnering more curious attention for my boyish crop. When I grew tired of the wig, I put on a beanie and that remained my default hairstyle—a gray or black beanie over my head. I had yet to see anyone in the city with hair cut as short as mine and I should not have cared so much but I did. Things grew easier when I returned to the States, home of individuality and self-expression. Tell me why I still felt uncomfortable with my emerging afro. By December, I had my mother relax my hair. Good-bye, natural hair.

My mini-afro and I. Adieu! Until tomorrow.
It’s January and I’m not proud of what I did to my hair because my reasons arose from a negative mindset and deep rejection of a part of myself. I underestimated the mental journey that accompanied the choice of natural hair. To become a new person, the person I desired myself to be, I had to let go of all the misconceptions of beauty that I grew up with since childhood. It involved the erasure of all the images that I once believed made up a beautiful woman because most of those images were what others desired to see in women and not what I wanted to see in myself. I was old enough to know what I wanted, but not courageous enough to let the world know I was at peace and confident with my decision. And that’s part of what makes a woman a woman, someone who is comfortable in her own skin.   

Thus, why I love beginnings. I will try again. I am trying again. I’ve uncovered my ugly truths and inhibitions, laying them bare so I can attack them. With that, I can move through the years with new confidence and love. I must love my body and all the components that make it up. True. I am not my hair but my hair is part of my body and I own my body. I don’t want to make decisions about my body based on what the world persuades or conditions me to do with it, but rather what I desire because that leads to true happiness. And if I love and accept my body, I love and accept the bodies of others. And if we love and accept each others' bodies, their idiocracies, quirks and specialness, then maybe we would all have something less to worry about.

How about you? Ever felt self-conscious or insecure about a part of yourself? What did you do to overcome it? Would love to hear your responses!

Thanks for reading,
Sammy :)


Geo. said...

Re: "How about you?"

Good question. I am of Portuguese extraction and have Moorish ancestry (and ulotrichy) because everybody invaded Portugal and we absorbed them. When our second car was a motorcycle (the '70s) my hair stayed in the shape of a Shoei helmet. Then I became a gardener and wore a hat for 35 years. In my 60s, my hair is graying and relaxing, but still has a road-kill pillow-flatside on waking. I just wet it and it goes sort of right again. My daughter, who is beautiful like you, keeps hers cropped close. Acceptance is certainly the solution and I am working on it. Fun post!

CS Severe said...

Thank you for sharing, Geo! Your hair has gone through a lot. We can work on acceptance together. :-) And thank you for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

Loved your Mohawk. And I agree with Geo, you are beautiful. I think no matter how you wear your hair you are going to be stunningly beautiful.

Now, my hair is light brown and has great big uncontrollable waves in it. So I have to keep it fairly short. It is also mostly gray and so I'm always dying it. When I feel comfortable with the gray I will stop the dying. But for now I like how my hair looks. And I don't want to look older than I actually am. :-)

CS Severe said...

Aww, thank you Elizabeth! I truly appreciate your words. :) Haha, I agree with your comment about wanting to look your age. I'm hoping to dye my hair a reddish brown color. We;ll see how that goes. Thanks for sharing!