"I wish I had your hair."
"Your hair is so beautiful."
"Do you ever straighten your hair?"
"It's so puffy..."
People love to comment on the curls. Some comments are flattering while other remarks are just rude. As a little girl and even throughout the majority of my teenage years, I found my happiness in what others thought and said about me. Today, I find my joy in so much more.
Growing up, I literally prayed (yes, like prayed on my knees in church) for straight hair. I absolutely hated the frizzy, puffy, untamable mess of curls atop my head that made me so different from all of my friends. I was constantly worried about what I looked like and stressed about how I could look prettier.
It was a never-ending, losing battle.
Although it took an absurd amount of time, I would occasionally straighten my hair in middle and high school. When I got to school, I felt like a superstar. Everyone would come up to me telling me how beautiful my straight hair was. Believe it or not, some people had the nerve to say, "I like your hair better straight," or "You should straighten it more often." Like OKKK… what the heck am I supposed to respond to this backhanded compliment? Thanks?
Just recently, I decided to stop putting color and heat in my hair. This has been the best decision. It is so freeing to be all of myself all the time. I love wearing my hair naturally. I feel so much more confident and beautiful knowing I didn't have to damage and strip my hair of all moisture to make it look how I wanted it to look. It is easy to get so caught up in having the perfect look. It seems we will go to serious extremes to attain society's view of "beauty." I decided to break the ongoing habit of distorting the real me. I love my natural curls and wouldn't trade them for the world.
I always thought I needed to change my appearance in order to be happy, but in reality, I just needed to change my attitude. Now, instead of describing my hair as "frizzy, puffy, and untamable," I would say my hair is "fun, different, and unpredictable" - just like me! My hair and I are no longer enemies - whoop whoop! The thing I hated most as a little girl is now one of my favorite features. As a society, we need to stop creating an issue out of our flaws and deciding we will just fix it. Instead of fixing our "flaws," we need to fix our judgmental attitudes. I'm not telling you to never dye your hair or never wear makeup but check your intentions first. Don't put your identity in the beauty of your outer shell.
Instead of constantly wishing I looked different, I actively decided to love myself for who I am (and how I look). This was not an easy or natural transition, but I constantly repeated these two quotes:
"Comparison is the thief of all joy."
"Never let anyone dull your sparkle."
The first quote reminded me to stop envying others for things I didn't have, and instead focus on what I do have. The second quote taught me to celebrate ME and never let anyone tell me I am anything less than amazing because I'm not.
What I lacked to see as a 10-year-old was there is no one definition of beauty. We are all so pressured to fit society's rigid mold of beauty, and I'm done putting up with it. You know what is more important than physical beauty? The beauty of your heart and soul. Physical beauty is ever-changing and fleeting. If you put your happiness in something so transient, this will result in short-term pleasure. Spend less time focusing on the smoky eye and beach waves and more time focusing on your relationships with loved ones and, most importantly, relationship with yourself.
Challenge: Do you have a "flaw" that you cover up every day? If so, try to be vulnerable and let yourself live naturally, even for just a day. Perhaps you can't remember the last time you went without wearing makeup or let your natural hair have the spotlight for a day. Show your whole self to the world. This will encourage others to open up. It is a domino effect. You can make a stand in this world simply by admitting to others that you aren't perfect, and you aren't afraid to show it!
Don't let society determine what is beautiful. YOU are beautiful in your own unique way and don't you dare let anyone tell you differently.