Five years ago, I took a turn towards confidence and guidance. Before that, I was shy and stood back to take everything in. I fell victim to what people said about me and let it affect me. I hate that. I hate that I let it get to me back then and that it took leaving high school to be myself… almost. I have this wild, curly, natural hair that falls mid back and when there’s no product, I resemble a lion. A cute lion but nonetheless, a ball of hair surrounds my head. I was born with this hair, no perm to make these curls come to life just some water and love. I hated my hair when I was younger because of other people. I hate a lot of parts of me.
Anyways, I grew up not straightening it. I would wear it in braids or puff balls, I was too much of a tomboy to have it straight and last more than two days. Middle school happened. My family moved from our base (my dad was in the Army and stationed at Fort Campbell, KY) to Pickerington, Ohio. When people hear Pickerington, they either think country or uppity suburbs or they have no idea what a Pickerington is. I was ten and the structure of my new school was different. There were no uniforms, it was quite big compared to the school I came from, and no one had hair like me. I remember this kid calling me Poof Poof when we were in gym class, I was so embarrassed because what was wrong with my hair? It was big just like his spiked hair. This was the same kid who threw a ball at my feet when I was running and well, I tripped and went straight down. Clearly, he was a nuisance and bully.
Nonetheless, I wore it in a ponytail every day after that. Pigtails were too childish for this middle school and all my friends had straight blonde or red hair. I was the odd kid out. I honestly can’t remember letting my hair out of the ponytail for the rest of the year. In sixth grade, I made friends with girls that had ethnic hair and could provide me with tips. One suggested a relaxer and I got the straight hair I wanted the next week. That following summer, I cut it to my shoulders. It was long enough to go into a small ponytail but that was about it. I loved it at first. Every thing was great until a girl asked me if I did anything with my hair besides wear it straight and then snickered at me with MY friend, who is no longer my friend. It was like I couldn’t win. My mom found a hairstylist that gave me twisties and braids, things I thought would help me fit in. They itched and only lasted a week. I was conforming each time someone offended me.
From seventh to the end of tenth grade, I got relaxers until my beauty stylist kept moving and left me with no one. It was no big deal at this point because I knew how to straighten my hair but I yearned curly hair. Relaxers take that away and leave waves. I had flat hair when I look back on pictures. I look back and wish I had an older sibling or someone around who understood my hair to tell me to hold out on everything. I had my parents but what teenager actually listens? We listen to our peers and that’s something I’ve done too much. I was nine when I asked my mom to shave my legs because a girl told me I had hairy legs. I was thirteen when a guy told me I had hairy arms but he’d still love me the same. Get out of here dude, he wasn’t even my crush or anything like that, he had a crush on me. I wore so many hoodies after that. My ex-boyfriend told me I needed to straighten my hair and get it together when I first started wearing it curly. He didn’t like it and made sure that I knew that. Clearly, he didn’t last long after that and no tears were lost.
It was like people pointed out these flaws to feel better about themselves. I feel like as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed this. The insecurity and not being able to love one’s self fully has left them with this need to nitpick at another person. These things people have said to me made me insecure. I let one person’s opinion get to me when I would get like ten compliments – it’s always that one person. Somehow, I grew to ignore it. My first three years of college, my hair was always curly. I never had the time to straighten it while studying for Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. I grew to love my curls as they got their shape and filled my head with volume. I have hair on my arms and I refuse to shave them. I don’t care if you don’t find that attractive because they’re not your arms. Friends have mentioned how small I am even suggesting I’m anorexic but that’s just my body build. I think that one might have hit the hardest because I know I’m small and I eat a ton but it doesn’t stick. I don’t have the build everyone sees fitting for me. That’s their own problem. I’m going to be the way I am no matter what. It took a long time to realize this.
It took me five years to completely love all of me, I’m twenty-three and it’s happening now. I have this wild hair and I straighten it still but when it’s curly, I feel invigorating and lively. Sometimes, I shy away from wearing my hair curly but then I think why? It’s a part of me and I’m blessed to have it. It’s a lesson to figure out a person you are surrounding yourself with. Are they bringing you up or putting you down? People can claim your being overly sensitive but it’s not being sensitive if they are making a judging statement or putting you down. Keep your not-so-nice comment to yourself because it affects people. I was affected at nine years old when I should have been climbing trees and playing soccer, not asking my mom to shave my legs and having to undergo Nair until I was deemed old enough for a razor. Girls have it hard, especially when we’re younger. Guys can roughhouse forever and do stupid things but at a certain age, a girl is expected to act like a lady. Society is so critical.
I realize now I have to be the person I wanted to look up to when I was younger. The person who understands the hardship of the mean words and people. The person who should have laughed at every person who ever made a comment about me because their comments shouldn’t change me. The person I needed there to understand the issue and talk me through it rather than writing everyone off as just joking. Never confuse someone’s opinion or comment about you as everyone’s opinion. I’m that person now. I’m that person for my two younger sisters and any of my sisters that approach me with questions. I’m understanding enough to the point where I made it a goal to myself to tell every little girl that gravitates to me that she’s beautiful and perfect. A compliment can go a long way. I see that now, those ten smiles block out the one frown. Positivity reigns over negativity. I pray for all and hope the best for everyone.