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Guest Post: Pixies and Bleach: A Hair Journey

Hi! I’m Courtney from Those Graces and today MJ and I are are talking about the struggle to feel pretty. Check out her post on this topic at my blog.

My mother cried the first time I cut my long blonde curls at the age of seven. This moment cemented my hair’s role in shaping my identity and the way I saw myself. As I grew up, it became apparent that my mood was reflected in my hair. In high school, angry and angsty, I chopped off my hair à la Natalie Imbruglia. You remember her, don’t you?

Six years after I sported my one-hit-wonder hairdo, I was struggling through my last year of college while simultaneously floating in and out of bad relationships. So I went blonde one cold night in Philadelphia at my friend’s apartment.

The reactions I got to both looks were polar opposites. In high school when I had short hair, I was called a lesbian and a Communist. Later in college with my long blonde hair, men flirted with me in bars because of my hair color. (Having spent my whole life as a brunette, I knew that was the only reason, trust me!)

Throughout my life, hair has defined my beauty or lack thereof both to others and to myself. But why? I struggle with this question daily when I look in the mirror and see my long, thick and (now) brown hair. Similar to my high school and college days, my hair still reflects my feelings except this time it’s happiness and contentedness.

I love my hair and wouldn’t want to cut it short any time soon. My hair is what makes me “me” and that’s just going to have to be okay with everyone else. I’ve gotten to the point in life where I can love my hair despite the judgment of others. My beauty is not tied to what others think or say about the length of my hair. And I think that’s pretty awesome.

Think about it: Why not reclaim our hair for ourselves? Why not stop worrying what value others put on our beauty? On our hair?

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13 Comments

  1. Sarah

     /  September 12, 2011

    I’m curious now, going to havering check out MJ’S post. In my opinion when you have black hair there’s so many more things that are involved with your hair. I had natural hair for a long time and i got tired of Being told my hair was cool, neat, weird, funky etc. Those are not words a girl wants to hear about her appearance! It’s almost as if the words used to “praise” black hair perpetuate the white beauty ideal. When you straits built hair all of a sudden it’s nice, pretty etc. Sad but that’s been my experience. And don’t even get me started about how some people feel it’s their business to judge you on how you choose to wear your hair!0

    Reply
    • Yes when it comes to African American Hair there is a whole historical, political, etc. background surrounding the texture of our hair. I think nowadays there are a lot more resourcres for people who want to go natural so hopefully it will be the norm like straight hair is!

      Reply
  2. sweetwindfall

     /  August 28, 2011

    Growing up I would always cut or dye my hair, change it as much as i could as saying to myself, here the new start. Like doing it shredded all of the past things i was going through. Like the one thing in my life that I could control. Now that i have aged and grown I found a good balance, still try new things. But, i don’t do anything overly drastic in the moment because that moment passes. I’m just growing it out, then seeing what here and there I would like to change.

    Great post 🙂

    Reply
  3. I’m with MJ. You hit the nail right on the head with the biggest hammer ever. I’ve been toying with the idea of color and getting a weave for a few days now because I’m over my haircut (for the sake) of being natural. (In the African American community there are sooooooo many conversations about this.)

    But I’m really kinda over society and their hair/beauty ideals. My hair is gorgeous, I get compliments on the color regularly and I’m sure people out there wish they had the nerve to go natural. So hopefully I can encourage someone out there to be naturally themselves or who they really want to be.

    I’m finally coming to terms with my individual beauty even if I don’t see it everyday.

    Great post! xo

    Reply
    • I guess the one great thing about having boring white hair is that there usually isn’t a huge controversy over having it natural or processed. I think it’s mostly an argument of long vs short.

      I think women should do whatever works for them and to heck with everyone else. There’s also the issue of young women processing and straightening their hair–what will it look like when they’re 50? Probably not good!

      Reply
  4. I love this post. So true. I have cut my hair super short twice in my life. The first time I was in elementary school (it was my mom’s idea actually) I hated it. Then two years ago, when I thought the Rihanna short hair look would look good on me. It did for two weeks then I remembered why, when I was eight I vowed never to cut my hair short again. Now I know what works for me and what doesn’t.

    Veronica

    Reply
    • Thank you Veronica! I think short hair is so hard to carry. My mom said this to me, that when you have short hair, you’re “all face.” I think it depends on your facial structure if you’ll feel good with short hair.

      Reply
  5. That is so funny that your short hair got you labeled a communist and a lesbian! Hair is strangely political. I remember a women’s studies class in university where this woman cut her hair off and it was this big emotional and political deal for her and everyone cheered and applauded her. I was like, whoa, am I not a feminist now cos I have long hair? It can be one of the ways women cause divisiveness in that community. I have always been proudly and unabashedly feminine and my long hair is part of that. I love my long hair and the longer the better. One really funny side note: I just read an article on why men cheat and the reasons were all over the place except for one common aspect about the other woman: “She had longer hair”. Apropos of nothing but interesting none the less.

    Reply
  6. I feel the same way about my hair being tied to my identity. Whenever I felt the need to make changes in my life, one of the changes always involved a new hairdo. I think that reinvention for me at least involves the interior and the exterior. Right now I have a lull in my life and my hair reflects it, a comfortable mid length cut in my natural color. I am starting to feel the itch to change my hair again, not knowing what to do is what’s stopping me.

    http://jrosestyle.blogspot.com

    Reply
  7. This is such a timely post for me. I’m not into coloring my hair, and I’d certainly never go blonde (not with this olive skin!), but I realize that one of the reasons I’m afraid of chopping my hair off, even though I’ve been debating it for a while, is that whole identity in my hair thing…..

    Reply
    • I ask myself this question a lot, too. Sometimes I feel like, “Oh you only live one, it is just hair!” but at the same time, it’s so much part of who I am that when I change it, it affect not only how I feel but also how others treat me.

      Reply
    • MJ

       /  August 25, 2011

      Yes you hit the nail on the head with defining your identity with your hair. It’s crazy that it doesn’t dawn on you that you aren’t your hair until you do something totally drastic to it.

      Reply

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