Going to an all-girls school with curly hair and a body that seemed to grow a lot faster than those around me was a recipe for disaster. When I was 13, my mom encouraged me to start straightening my curls, which resulted in weekly visits to the hair salon for treatments followed by seven days dedicated to maintaining that straightness. . I can’t get it wet. I can’t sweat. I can’t pull my hair up during the day or sleep too hard. My curls are my Achilles heels, and I refuse to let anyone see what they really look like untamed. At that point, I wanted the rest of the world to see me the way I thought I wanted to be: Reflections of skinny, blonde girls bouncing around the coffee shop as if they were protagonists of their own TV shows. I felt like I was too big and assumed that the rest of the world also saw me as too big. So I made myself smaller and straighter.
Then I went to college, and two things happened. The first year, I started watching Sex and the city. fully understand her own hair. Then, in my second year, I found out I was gay. I’m grateful that coming out was a pretty seamless process for me (and thankfully I went to a college that was basically screaming, “Don’t forget to bring your rainbow.” class!”), and in retrospect, that makes perfect sense. this is where my relationship with my curls started to change. Revealing one truth helped me adapt to another, and I started to feel more comfortable with my hair natural. I haven’t gone all that way, but I’m getting closer.
When I graduated, my hair was cut short and curled at the top (which, yes – makes me look even more like my dad). It was still a few years before I fully entered my identity, but as I struggled with figuring out how to dress to fit my body and feel comfortable with bigger breasts and wider hips, I test what it means to be who you are. Spending less time tending to my curls means more time to introspect, write, read, and get out. Instead of fighting with my hair, I started looking for ways to reveal parts of my personality: I got a few tattoos, piercings, wearing bright colors, and even dyeing my hair red. In her bestselling book, untamed, Glennon Doyle writes, “When a woman finally learns that it is impossible to please the whole world, she is free to learn how to please herself.” And this is definitely my case.
Like so many people forced to leave their stylists during the 2020 lockdown, my relationship with my hair has changed again during the quarantine. During the quiet months, my hair grows and I celebrate milestones like a ponytail. I only cut my own hair once, but everything felt different—like I realized that cutting my hair was a way for me to separate myself from myself, and to do what was once a ritual is now like I’m trying to cut someone else’s hair. in the hope that it will help me find my own identity.
Now, my partner (a curly haired girl) regularly tells me how much she loves my hair and never stops making me feel beautiful leaning against my thick, wild nature and (on some days) its. I’ve been developing it for the past few months, testing how long I can hold it without it pushing up against the wall or spending hours disassembling in the shower. And in the process, my hair has become an extension of my personality: vibrant, bold, and bouncy. After years of trying to look like everyone else, I finally look like myself. And I’m exactly who I want to be.
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