A few weeks ago I was leaving church and a woman comes up to me and says “I love your hair, I wish my husband would allow me to wear my hair like that.” I thanked her for the compliment but then I digested what she said. It is not the first time I have heard women talk of how their husbands or significant others do not like them to wear their natural hair texture; but this is the first time I really pondered the totality of that concept.
My first reaction was of distain for her husband and all other husbands out there who hate their woman’s natural hair texture; and then I dug a little deeper. I realized that like the husbands that hated their wives naturally textured hair, I too at one time hated my own hair. On the surface it didn’t appear that way. For years I straightened by hair religiously. Starting from age 12 when I got my first relaxer; to age 16 going natural but then relaxing again because I couldn’t get my hair straight enough; to age 24 deciding to go relaxer free but continuing to straighten my hair until I burned whatever trace of my natural texture that existed. I remember for years seeing women with naturally textured hair and thinking to myself “Oh that looks cute, but it is not for me.” How could I honestly look myself in the face and say that my God given hair texture was not for me? That was the hair that God so preciously picked out for me, along with my physique, my humor and the many other things that make me uniquely special. Yes, it sounds ridiculous when you put in that context, but it is true.
The issue much deeper than a particular hairstyle, was the fact that for a majority of my life I did not believe I was beautiful unless my hair was something else. I only believed I was beautiful if my hair was straight. Straight, flipped and curled looking like a mainstream model on the cover of some magazine. Those were the only times I believed in my own beauty, and that revelation was startling. It wasn’t until recently when I cut the last of my damaged hair off, and finally after many years saw my natural texture and I cried. I couldn’t believed that I tried so hard to stifle all this awesome hair, and that I was in fact beautiful just being me. This was not about a natural hair movement, main stream ideas of beauty or anything like that, it was about me and my identity. The ways I had subconsciously believed my beauty existed in one very narrow definition. I wept, because I realized for so long I tried to deny who I truly was.
I began to have compassion for that husband. I realized that maybe like me, he had this very narrow view of beauty and his view was based on the environment and culture that we live in. It wasn’t until I experienced the full circle moment for myself that I understood what it meant to hate myself.
This post is bigger then my hair it has to do with life. There are many narrow views of success, love and beauty that we define our lives by that challenge the very nature of who we are meant to be. Unless we endeavor to take a journey upon a road less traveled to redefine everything we think about ourselves, then and only then will we see who we truly are. Self hate is real, and it manifest itself in so many ways like never saving money and always struggling, to starting relationships with people who are destructive to staying at a dead end job because we don’t believe we deserve success. Our narrow view of what is good keeps us in a prison of self hate. Break free and redefine your life! You are special, unique and beautiful; there is no one on earth like you or was created to do that thing that you are here to do!
Have you overcome self hate? Is there something in your life you are struggling to love about yourself? Share your thoughts and comments below.