Its just hair.
Words I have heard my whole life. I wish for one day, everyone who has said to me “its JUST hair” could feel what it really feels like to walk into a room and look different from everyone there. To feel like you are being judged and found lacking. To feel like the ugliest person in the room and to feel like you must try so hard to compensate for your short comings.
To the world I am strong, energetic, funny and unaffected by the glances, stares and comments about my hair and in general my looks. Growing up I always had a quick, funny comeback and a smile glued to my face. I was a pleaser. I made sure everyone around me was happy. This was the way that I made and kept friends. I had to be pleasing because It was hard to break into cliques and be accepted when you looked different and there was such an emphasis on beauty.
From a very early age I was bullied. It was something I lived with daily. When I did finally talk about this with friends their first reaction would be; “kids can be cruel.” Yes, indeed they are, but what is more surprising is that adults can be even worse. I experienced bullying well into my 20s where I finally threatened to file harassment charges against a man I was working with. I was 26 years old and every morning as I walked into our mutual workplace he would bark like a dog at me and laugh with the man sitting beside him!
In college, I lived in the flat below a group of guys who would hang out the windows and scream profanities and bark at me as I walked up the front stairs and unlocked my door. At least 5 out of 7 days of the week I arrived home to this greeting.
In high school my mother remarried and we moved in to the home of her new husband. Every time I passed into a room my older step brother accompanied by a group of his buddies, would make a sound like the sequence from the Friday the 13th movies where Jason the freakish horror character came on the screen. I was made to feel freakish and ugly in my own home. There was no escaping the bullies when they are living under the same roof.
Every day on my way home from elementary school a group of older kids would wait for me along the path and scream things like baby head and ugly girl at me until I was out of ear shot.
I learned to live with bullies and feeling ugly and different. This experience shaped how I felt about myself and my self esteem. When someone says, “its JUST hair” I feel like I want to scream!
The fact of the matter is …They are right, it is only hair and beauty is not only on the outside. I know this now as an adult. But I also know that it is hard to live in this world of beautiful people, where beauty is linked to acceptance, love and success, when you feel like you are not beautiful. From a young age, I was forced to redefine my beauty and to grow a thick skin. I had to work hard on my self worth so that it was not only connected to looks but also to my brain and my person. I am a strong independent, successful woman now. But, I still fight that mean girl in my head every day!!!
When I first decided to buy hair, I was an adult and I was in the happiest part of my life. I had started my career and I was feeling like I had the world by the ass! Although my self esteem may never be fully correct, I had accepted my alternate definition of beautiful and I was ok with who I was. I could afford it so I thought I would try it. AND I loved it. Well not at first of course… it felt foreign and unnatural at first but once I grew accustomed to it … I absolutely loved it. I could finally have a pony tail and leave home with wet hair! No more bottles of hairspray to make my thin flat hair stand up and look fuller!!! I experimented with long and short and mid lengths and the colors! Blonde, Red and Brunette!!! Fun stuff! It has been a journey of sew in extensions and toppers and finally full lace units. I finally became a person wo could simply fade into the background at a gathering! It was an awesome and empowering feeling!
I am sad that ‘just hair’ can make or break a self confidence, but truthfully it can. Some will call it arrogance or vanity when someone is crying because they are losing or have lost their hair. But those of us who have walked the mile know all too well that being PHYSICALLY different is hard. Ignoring the ugly words and the bullying mentality of those who treat you like less because you are different is difficult.
A large part of the motivation that I had to start this company was because I wanted to put myself out there as someone who has experienced this process of building an alternate definition of beauty and self worth in a sea of negativity. At 44 years old I am a successful and beautiful woman who defines beauty on my own terms. Do I have it all figured out? NO WAY! But here’s what I do know…..having someone who knows a little about the struggle and can empathise is both empowering and freeing. Being part of a community, knowing that you are not alone and that there are others out there who understand, is something beautiful. It makes life much easier! Treating yourself with compassion and kindness is necessary. Looking straight in the mirror and telling that mean girl in your head to shut up! Is empowering! I want to bring that experience to my clients. I never want another woman to feel alone or ugly in her own skin. Writing and sharing my experiences is a way to open the dialogue on all of this. A way to stop ignoring the pride swallowing siege that it takes to hold your head up and feel confident in an awesomely flawed body.