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?