January 19, 2013

"Curly haired woman who runs with the wolves"

Namaste, beautiful souls!

I'm a Brazilian woman, and as such I have curly, wild, hard to tame hair. That's not to say that all Brazilian women have hair like that, but the vast majority does. And almost every single one of us is brought up to hate that hair. We try every product we can get our hands on to straighten it. We blow dry it, iron it, use harsh chemicals and all kinds of treatments just so we can obliterate the despised curls.

I spent my whole life, all forty years of it, doing exactly that: denying my curls. Why? Because I could only feel truly beautiful when my hair was straight. Hey, I had this ridiculous concept of beauty growing up, you know, the one that says you have to be tall and skinny, with long straight blond hair, blue eyes, long legs and big boobs. We certainly have a dozen or so women that look like that in Brazil. However, the other 100 plus million females in my country look nothing like that. And most of us are constantly struggling to look like that, especially when it comes to our hair!

I can't afford to have my hair done professionally on a regular basis, and I am too busy and too lazy to do it myself all the time. So I take the easy way out, I keep my hair up on a pony tail most days. But in the past couple of months I have been letting my hair down a lot more often than I've ever had, my entire life. And I'm liking it, a lot actually! It is almost as if by allowing my hair to flow free, wild, crazy, and untamed, I've also allowed my wild woman to come out and just be herself. And play, and have a say in how we both live our lives, together, not at odds. She's out and she refuses to go back. Since I allowed her to have a voice, I've been feeling a lot more self confident, empowered, beautiful. Yes, absolutely, I AM feeling beautiful, despite the curls, or maybe because of the curls. I am in love with my curls, they are me, you know, crazy, wild, free spirited, me! I even had an encounter this week with a woman who approached me at Sothebys to say how wild and gorgeous I looked from across the room. Whoa! Really? Yep, really. And my hair was as curly and as wild as it ever was. Guess what straight hair? You never had anyone walk from across a room to say how beautiful you are. Ha!

Well, I needed a hair cut, and today I managed to carve the time to go and get one. I was only going to get the cut, no blow dry. Why, right? My curls and I are just fine. In fact, they looked pretty awesome before I left the house. But old habits die hard, I guess. As soon as the hairdresser finished cutting the split ends, he asked if I wanted to blow dry straight. I hesitated for a moment, but that deeply ingrained obsession with straight hair made its way through from the hole I had banished it to, and with a certain amount of defiance, replied YES! Ooooh, look at that, how pretty I look with my nice straight hair. I'm all bouncy coming back home, feeling like a million bucks. But when I get home, I have a chance to really spend some time looking at my reflection. And the woman looking back at me is a stranger. I don't really know her. She looks like me and yet, she's nothing like me. And I realize that I am finally free from the a lifetime of slavery to a standard of beauty that is not only absurd but also entirely ridiculous. I want my curls, I want my wild woman, I want my "real", authentic, raw, natural beauty. I want "me". And as I type these words, I breath out the last of this nonsensical obsession, break the last chains around my ankles, and find myself truly free. To be me! And now if you excuse me, I'm going to have a shower and wash this "straight hair" down the drain. Because my wild woman will not wait another second to come back and celebrate her freedom!

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin

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