Self love is a hard skill to learn. In a world in which we are constantly seeing others at their best online, it is incredibly hard not to get stuck in the comparison game. I would say it has taken me most of my lifetime to find that space of acceptance within myself.
One of the things that I had the hardest time accepting about myself, throughout my life, was my hair. I was born with straight hair, which was always so easy to maintain. However, when I started puberty, my hair began changing on me. Instead of laying flat, it would poof up at the sides. It started to develop kinks and curls and was unruly when there was the slightest touch of moisture in the air.
There’s a photo of me in my middle school yearbook. I’m writing on the chalkboard and my hair is in a tight ponytail. What I didn’t realize was that from behind, my hair was a massive poof, bigger than my head.
As a 13-year-old girl, I freaked out when my hair started to change. I did everything that I could to hide my new texture, like putting it into a tight bun, braiding it, or “straightening” it with my mom’s curling iron as I singed the ends and smoke streamed from the iron in thin wisps. There were many mornings that I spent desperately trying to “fix” my hair with tears rolling down my cheeks.
Self love comes from a place of acceptance.
In response to these rituals, my hair grew brittle and weak, prone to breakage and frizzier than ever. I avoided swimming and humidity like the plague and was constantly afraid of being “found out” by my friends and boyfriends. I didn’t want anyone to know about how “ugly” my hair (or I) really was.
As I grew up and further into my adulthood, I started to care less about what others thought. I began dating a guy who upon discovering my curly hair, told me that he loved that about me. He kept encouraging me to wear it curly, saying that it was beautiful. I wasn’t convinced. I still didn’t like how it looked curly. I still only felt attractive, when it was straight.
Then one night I fell upon a community online called The Curl Community. It was a group of girls with badass curls (super shiny, healthy, and beautiful) who followed a method called the Curly Girl Method. On a whim, I decided that perhaps I’d give this whole curly thing a shot. I wondered whether my curls, that I’d neglected my entire life, could blossom into those beautiful spirals and waves which I found myself envying.
I discovered that following different methods (no matter how skeptical I was in the beginning— hair gel? Really?) actually worked very well for me. Over time, the curls on my head became more unified in shape. They started to develop a shine and a delightful little bounce when I walked. My journey began in November 2019, and today I can say that I’ve only used heat (a curling iron) on my hair ONE time since then.
Today I’m proud that I’ve got big curly hair. It’s crazy and completely out of my control, and it is also a wonderful external reminder that I do not have to be perfect all the time. As far as self-love is concerned, I think it is important to take a closer look at the things that we do not love about ourselves. Is it, in fact, the way that we are built that we cannot accept, or do we simply need a change of perspective and some new tools?
Self-love comes from a place of acceptance. My hair was always too “loud” for me to really accept. I like the things in my life to fit into neat little boxes, and big curly hair was like a screaming child in a quiet room for me. It draws attention, and I always liked to kind of run under the radar. But sometimes, we need to just be ourselves and make a little noise.