Friday, February 26, 2010

Our own uniqueness

I was speaking to the mother of my older one's best friend the other day, and happened to mention that my son had told me that she had lovely, curly hair.
"It's not exactly curly", she clarified. "It is fizzly."
"That may be so", I replied. "But my son definitely thinks it is curly and pretty."
"Bless him", she said. "Tell him, he's made my day. But I wish I could believe it is anything other than plain fizzly."

There was clearly a disconnect. She's didn't seem to think much of her hair, but my son thought otherwise. I was wondering how it could be so, when I realised that I shared the same slightly ambivalent relationship with my hair.

I've got wavy hair. Not gently undulating waves, or bouncy on your face waves. Just plain unruly waves, which never seem to know how to behave. There are days when I try to tame it into submission with gels and hair grips, and there are days when I just run my fingers through wet hair and allow it do to just what it wants. Regardless of what I do, the result is not much different. How my hair looks on a given day has no relationship to the amount of time I put into it. I know I have decent hair - it is thick and soft - but because it doesn't measure up to what I want it to be, I am not as fond of it as I should be.

And I am definitely not the only one. Practically nobody I know accepts their hair for what it is - they are constantly trying to straighten it, or curl it. They blow dry their hair every day for purely cosmetic reasons, and smother it with gell and serums. Many of them are far more succuessful than I am (or maybe they just put in more effort), but they end up looking like clones of each other.


My son who has not yet internalised the current perceptions of female beauty thinks my 'unruly' hair, and his friend's mother's 'fizzly' hair are beautiful. Why then should we think otherwise? Why do we try so hard to be like everyone else, when each of us is unique in our own way? Why do we need others to tell us what our self-image should be?


Ann Elle Altman said...

I think that being like everyone else is stupid. Be what makes you happy. I don't wear much makeup and I'll style my hair simply. Well, my sisters are on me about it all the time. I think they think I'm not happy with how I look or it's some kind of warped makeover project. But, I love who I am and what I look like and the moment I don't like who I am, I'll change.

Marjorie said...

I think this is such a lovely post. My hair is curly and frizzy and I must put gel in to or straighten it if I want it to look right. I was never happy with it as a teen, and as a child I WANTED it to be curly instead of just unruly. I got my wish and still wasn't satisfied. It's just how we women are sometimes. Isabella hasn't yet learned to dislike anything about her looks. I figure if she doesn't complain about her hair then I'm not going to let her know that it is like mine was: unruly, messy waves that never stay in order long enough to even look like they've been brushed. I don't mind too much because it photgraphs well. She doesn't seem to care at all. The only thing that bugs her is that it's hard to brush in the first place.

You see, if there is one thing I learned from growing up with low self-esteem it is to constantly remind my daughters that they are beautiful. I tell them "You are so beautiful!" When they were younger they would respond "I know." That was until I taught them that "Thank you" Is the proper response to a compliment. Something I still struggle with.

Al said...

I've got an award for you at my blog.


Publish or Perish

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Ann - someday, I hope I attain your level of wisdom. I don't really apply external standards of perfection on myself, but for some strange reason, I have a running battle with my hair, which if I look at it dispassionately is pretty decent hair.

@ Marjorie - Isabella is a very wise lady. Her hair looks gorgeous in all the photographs I have seen of her, and there is absolutely no need for her to have to straighten it or curl it. I wish you too had been told how beautiful you are when you were growing up, because you are indeed very very beautiful.

@ Al - thank you for the award. I am honoured


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