My Hair Doesn't Define Me
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Politics and Activism

My Hair Doesn't Define Me

A Journey Through My Hair Misadventures

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My Hair Doesn't Define Me
Nichole Thomas

Growing up, I wanted to look like my friends. I didn't. I lived in an all black neighborhood, but I was driven daily to a private school an all of my school friends were prissy and pretty little white girls named Jill and Becky and Amanda. I'm not being facetious or stereotypical, but in fact quite literal, those were their names.

They were the societal definitions of beauty. Put a pin in that phrase, societal definitions, I'll use it frequently. They were very slender, they all had long flowing straight blonde or brunette locks. They looked like in a few years they would grace the cover of the latest edition of Teen Beat, and then there was me.

Adorbs, right? I had a full head of curly hair that my grandmother felt needed styled into what I called my "muffin." She took me to a hairdresser that was roughly the age of The Crypt Keepers mother and had it picked and sprayed into a hard little muffin helmet every week. Why you ask? Because she too had a muffin helmet. This picture was dug out of the ancient archives circa 1982.

As I got older and more defiant, I rebelled with my hair, as well as sneaking out and skipping church. For shame! My hair has been a fixation for nearly my entire life. I have always obsessed about changing it or making it more like everyone else.

Mid 80's I was all about glam metal and hip hop. If you ever wondered what a 9 year old girl version of James Dean looked like, surely it's this. This defiant look embodies my very spirit today. The muffin is starting to grow out.

I also learned growing up with curly hair that not everyone knows how to handle it. Stylists, inexperienced ones at least frequently chop too much off, and the bangs, oh how it has taken decades to perfect the bangs.

You see, when you have naturally curly hair and a forehead that would rival Tyra Banks, bangs can end up looking pretty ridiculous. This awesome picture was taken in Jefferson, Texas. No idea the year, but I look roughly 12. Look how much the muffin has grown!

I don't think people realize the amount of emphasis and pressure that society puts on girls even at these young ages to look a certain way. The ideal of beauty is portrayed in TV shows, magazines, musicians, cartoons, commercials, what our peers say, what our elders say. We get this image stuck in our head of what we should look like and it becomes a fixation that we can't get away from.

There's no avoiding the mirror, and sometimes unfortunately the ridicule of classmates or neighborhood kids. I was fairly fortunate. I decided to be the popular misfit. I made myself a social chameleon so that I could blend with every crowd.

But what of the kids who can't ?

As I got older, my hair obsession, it didn't waiver. When it was it's longest I was in my teens.

Look at that, a baby with a baby. Here I am 16 with my daughter, Ashley. Yes, the one in my other article. My hair went down past my shoulder blades, though ironically after spending all of that time growing it out, I usually had it pulled up. It was in my teens and early twenties that I became obsessed with straightening it.

It didn't even look good straight! It was so curly that even the thought of humidity converted it back into a huge fro. If you notice, I never look into the camera. I really struggled with my self esteem during these years. My daughter's father was extremely emotionally abusive and even though I wasn't fat, I told myself I was, and though I wasn't ugly I had myself fully convinced otherwise.

Look at the difference a few years makes! By 1998 I had dropped the abusive boyfriend and started to rediscover myself, I realized with my curly hair that long flowing locks might never be in my future so I chopped it off and sported a new and improved muffin honey!

Sweaters were literally everything then, by the way.

As I grew older, I listened to less of what other people had to say, and more to myself. I looked in the mirror and told myself I was beautiful just the way I was. It worked great for a few years! From 20 to 30 I was carefree, I didn't worry what people thought of me, I embraced my unique features and I owned them, that is, until ...

My hair started falling out.

I was barely 30 and the top started to thin. Mostly noticeably to me, and in pictures. I began to cut the top of my head off in selfies. I had to. I didn't want anyone to see my baldness.

Chopped that bald head right out of here. This is a trend that continued on again for quite some time. I know, those glasses were EVERYTHING. I miss them to this day, but my face was much thinner then, I don't think they'd look as good now.

With my hair thinning, I fell into another lull. I'm lying, a full blown depression. I started to revert away from the world. I hated my picture being taken, unless I approved it!

In 2014 I finally decided to take drastic measures. I started going to a place that specialized in male patterned baldness in women. Awesome results, super expensive.

Full head of hair. Crown is completely fake. Well, it's human but it's not mine. My amazing stylist permed it and color matched it to my existing hair to appear seamless. It should! I spent $600 that day.

This past May I found myself without a job and completely tired of dealing with the fake mess. I just wanted to wake up and feel my own scalp again, something I hadn't felt in 2 years. I couldn't afford the upkeep and decided to do something insane. Have my stylist shave it all off. She thought I'd lost every single one of my marbles.

But once I am determined there is no stopping me. I bought some wigs in case I looked ridiculous but on May 31st, 2016, this happened.

Got rid of it. Said good riddance to something that had tormented me for years.

My hair. I was tired of trying to get it the right color, the right length, the right texture the right look. I was just tired. In that instant, looking down at the floor as my hair, both fake and real lay all around me, I was reborn.

I didn't give a damn what anyone thought. I looked at myself and for the first time I really and truly wholeheartedly loved who looked back at me.

As women we spend our whole lives trying to fit other peoples expectations when they don't matter, we can never truly be happy until we finally fit our own.

I have embraced my hair loss, I didn't let it continue to defeat me, I laughed at it and said" bring it on"!!! You want to fall out? I'll speed up the process for you!

I have finally learned to love me for me. Not what I think I should be or what you do.

Just me for me. I certainly hope you can look in the mirror at all of those amazing little differences that make you uniquely you and love yourself too.

My hair doesn't define me.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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