Who is your favorite cartoon character? Do you remember their signature outfit and tag line? Do you remember how their character developed and how easily you could guess how they would respond to the curious situations they were scripted into each week?
Despite the circumstances that swirled around them their outfit and, more importantly to me, their hair stayed the same.
I can't image a world where my outlets of self expression were so stagnant and stale. If you spend any time with me on a regular basis you know that my hair style changes every few days. It's not because I can't make up my mind. It's not because I'm easily swayed by passing trends. It's because until a few years ago I wasn't aware of all the possibilities of styles I had with my hair.
Doing my hair was a burden. It was pretty high up on the list of my sources of stress. Maybe this sounds like a typical complaint from a women but it really had a negative effect on my life. I wanted to be beautiful and back then I never considered myself a judge of what was beautiful. This was especially true when it came to judging myself. I ignored my parents and instead I absorbed my idea of beauty from public media. From what I saw, it was my understanding that nothing was more beautiful than long, straight hair. So after losing most of my hair at age 11 to a chemical relaxer (that I thought would give me long, straight hair) and looking in the mirror at the bald spots on my scalp I was pretty sure that I was never going to be beautiful.
Don't worry, this story has a happy "ending." It was more like a wonderful beginning. I got my hair to grow back and I made some products to try and help other women like me. I opened up to people about something that had once made me feel so isolated and embraced the support and feedback of women around the world. Be it through in-person meet ups, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter, I meet people who are constantly redefining and re-imagining what it means to be beautiful. They continue to inspire me to not be afraid and to try new things always.
The way my hair looks sometimes makes me feel strong. Sometimes it makes me feel playful. Sometimes it's just whatever because I had laundry AND homework to do the night before. The key thing is that it's always changing and growing and so am I. I don't change my hair because I need attention. I do it because in the hours I spend washing, drying, and styling it I remind myself that I can be beautiful and I can be different and the only person who holds me accountable for being me is me.