As women, since childhood we get the message loud and clear that how our hair looks matters. Most likely you can recall that Cinderella was a blonde, Snow White had raven locks, and Rapunzel’s hair was a major plot point in her tale. As far back as the religious writings of some of the oldest belief systems, women’s hair has been important. In modern times, hair has shaped up to be a big money maker, pulling in billions of dollars for the beauty industry.
But why? When exactly was it decided that protein pushing through our scalps mattered, and a lot? We have already discussed loving our bodies for what they are, but what about loving our hair no matter its texture, fullness or color?
Along with blue eyes, fair skin and shorter than average height, I also inherited fine hair. Most of the women in my family have had it and it’s even been mentioned that my seven-month-old niece seems to be in store for the same fate, with her scalp visible through wisps of soft, light colored hair. My family can almost be equated to a bad hair support group: swapping tips, complaining to each other, and suggesting new product discoveries. My hair is probably what I am most self-conscious about, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I have actually cried after a bad cut and color. I could add up the amount of money I have spent on it, or the number of hours I have dedicated to reading articles about it, but that may make me want to cry for different reasons.
In an ironic twist of fate, my mother and I both starting losing our hair for medical reasons at the same time, although her cause was much more severe than mine. My mom was fighting breast cancer and the chemicals being pumped into her system caused shedding hair almost immediately. Mine was the result of a hormone imbalance brought on by birth control and combined with stress. Every time I washed or brushed my hair large handfuls would easily come out, which in turn stressed me out even more, causing more hair loss and a vicious cycle. Luckily for my mom and I, doctor’s visits, and additional lifestyle changes (in my case, diet and learning to decompress through yoga), resulted in the end of our mother/daughter shedding after roughly a year.
What did I learn from losing the hair I once fought against like an enemy? Hair itself is not a life or death matter. The hair on my head and on my mother’s — even if fine — now serves as proof of the good health we are lucky to have gotten back.
… my hair should also be something I can appreciate and have fun with, not get emotional over.
Not only does my hair not shape my personality, convince others to love me, or even dictate whether or not I am attractive, my hair should also be something I can appreciate and have fun with, not get emotional over. It doesn’t have to be a major part of my life, and definitely not the focus of it. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we want to try a new product a magazine raved about, or feel silly if we want our strands to be particularly cut just so. What we should be trying to achieve — whether our hair is curly, straight, thick or thin — is accepting it for what it is. You won’t ever leave a salon a new person and that’s okay. Who you are is just fine … and wasn’t defined by the hair on top of your head, anyways.
Check out Allie Marie Smith’s personal narrative on the decision to shave her head for another perspective on the subject.
What are some other ways that you think women judges themselves too harshly?
Image via Chelsie Autumn