How Much Longer?

I was born with curly hair. From the moment I was born, my head was adorned with golden curls that would later turn an auburn.

My curly hair has stayed with me my whole 21 years of life. I use to pull and tug at it. The stubborn young girl in me use to only wear t-shirts, jeans, sneakers and my hair fashioned back in a ponytail. Occasionally, my mom would get me in a dress for special occasions, however, I always won with the half up, half down hairstyle. The early teenage me use to slick my hair back with product after product, trying to bend the ways of nature. I distinctly remember one young teacher, sneering away from one morning after the product placement had been particularly heavy one morning and a rubbing alcohol aroma had followed me.

Then high school brought the dying. My best friend had a proclivity to doing hair and was very good at it. She use to be the only who could straighten my hair with ease. Even my own mom had given up brushing my hair years ago. So, I occasionally let her dye it. At first, it was just highlights, an attempt to retrieve my golden locks that had started to darken. Then, one day we were feeling adventurous. Well, long story short, I ended up with very damaged purple hair.

One year later and I graduated high school, the hair had returned to its natural ish color. Well, at least a believable color. Anyway, this fight with my hair and myself had been a long recurring theme throughout my life. Not to say that this was an obsession for myself growing up, there were other things I didn’t like.

However, it is an important part of this story and of my story. I recently, cut my hair very short. I do this once in a while. I really like it short, it looks fun and is light and is easier to maintain. I was sitting at work the other day, and one of the very nice office women said to me, “Wow, I love your hair, it looks so good. I bet you hate it.”

And I paused. Not at the generosity of her compliment but at the second sentence. I responded with, “Oh, thank you. I actually like it alot.”

“I bet you hate it.” This sentence, struck me so hard in the moment. How easily it is assumed that we as women, hate something about ourselves, or hate an aspect about ourselves. She meant well, I know she did. She was just trying to relate with me on something because, to be frank, we as women commonly bond about things we hate about ourselves. “Oh, I wish my stomach was flatter,” “me, too,” is something we might say or “ Oh, I wish I had legs like yours,” “No, they’re too (enter some mean comment about ourselves).” We look for either validation in others or look to seek a reformation that society says we must say.

There are things I dislike about myself, both physically and emotionally. There are days I don’t like my hair or don’t like the choices I make. But for someone who’s mostly a stranger, to assume that I don’t like something about myself, speaks loudly to who we are as a society, culture and how we raise our women.

I recently read a facebook picture that was shared that said, “How many things would you list that you love before you list yourself?” This phase struck me hard. I thought about it and I can’t honestly say that I would even list myself.

I’m not sure where this culture of self hate and depreciation came from but as a young millennial woman, I can say confidently that it is here and it is strong. I do admit things are changing and getting better as far as women having a place in society and having a voice in the workplace and in politics but there is so much work to be done still.

For a long, long time I taunted and teased and pulled my hair and myself with it to try to look and feel a certain way about myself. I’m not sure what changed. If I got tired of putting up with the bullshit of what I “should” look like or what I “wanted” to look like or if its because I surrounded myself with people who love me or if its because there are more and more people in politics and the media telling me to love myself but I did change. And I hope, I hope so much that things continue to change. That for my daughters and your daughters and friends and family and coworkers that things continue to change.

I don’t know what will fix this. I don’t know if we’ll ever eradicate this issue of people not loving themselves fully but I think we can start by saying thank you. Appreciating the compliments others give us, acknowledging them and acknowledging ourselves and the things we like and appreciate about ourselves.

(Photo of me rocking my new do. Yes, there's a filter, I am still working on myself too. :))