I have this thing about hair. It is a sort of inner struggle.
To explain, I used to have extraordinarily thick hair. And I used to wear it really long. That statement normally would not be anything to have issue with except for the hair elastics that used to break all the time when I would attempt to wear a ponytail or a braid. Yet that is not the end of it-- my hair started to fall out in my mid-20's. So after going to the dermatologist about it, I was told it was a genetic issue which would not go away. ever. and I cut my long, curly locks off, never to grow them out again.
I can understand about the ever part. My mother's hair was the polar opposite to my hair's thickness. Her hair was so thin that you could see through it 100% to her scalp by the time she was in her 40's. When I was really young, she used to get perms in order to add fullness and coverage. Sometimes it just looked like a kinky mess; therefore, I did not understand why she would do that to her precious bits of hair.
I witnessed my mother feeling unbeautiful numerous times throughout my life. I overheard people making fun of her (and defended her to many). And by the time she died, I hope I had said enough things contrary to her negative self image for her to believe me.
So anyways, my hair is not anywhere as thin as my mom's was, but I have about half of what I did prior to my genetic make up kicking me in the head and I notice it. Every. Single. Day. I realize I shouldn't get so wrapped up in looks and what not, although it is so difficult because women are valued by their looks and hair is a huge part of that valuation process all summed up in a glance. I desire to rise above the narrow-minded rules about beauty and be my own version of beautiful.
How do I break down the cultural programming inside of my head?
How do I stop caring whether people appreciate my whole self?
Well, I do not know the answers, but I can say one thing: Daughters telling their mothers the truth of the heart that challenges social norms works wonders. I did it for my mom as soon as I was able to recognize she needed to know that I found her special and beautiful and of great worth. And my daughter started doing the same for me yesterday. We were driving in the car. I was spacing out and she was coloring in her coloring book. Then breaking the silence she said,
Mom, I like your hair short.
It fits your style better than long hair.
I know, from my experience with my mother, that my daughter sees me now and will subconsciously always look for opportunities to build me up and help me to know how beautiful I am and always will be to her.
I am exceedingly grateful to have a daughter who can and wants to express her love in such abstract and meaningful ways.