“Do you ever wear it big — you know, really big?” asked the clerk at the boutique in which I was browsing.
She was inquiring about my hair. I’m a curly girl. Well, actually, I’m a super kinky, coily girl. There are no soft spirals or smooth waves here. Nope. It’s a full-on wiry riot amongst my tresses.
In response to the clerk’s question, I simply shook my head, including my partially twisted-back and pinned-down coif, and quietly muttered: “Uh, no. Not really.”
In recent years, I’ve tried to at least contain — if no longer control and conquer — the coiled chaos that’s my hair. In fact, the transition to mere containment constituted major progress in the realms of hair acceptance, time management, and self-actualization. Especially after having spent the better part of four decades investing time, money, and effort into straightening, ironing, and otherwise torturing my mane into submission to conform with overarching social expectations and standards of beauty.
Despite this personal progress, the clerk’s question kept rattling around in my brain (just under those naturally crinkled strands). Why didn’t I give my mop the freedom of full expression? Why did I find it necessary to conform to an arbitrary, external standard? And, most importantly, why did this make me feel less powerful?
After all, I live out loud. I allow my voice to be heard. I let my sense of self-expressive style go unfettered by fashion trends. I live a life that’s true to me. Conformity is neither in my vocabulary nor in my character.
So why did I draw the line when it came to my locks?
The inner answer was: Allowing my hair to do as it pleased permitted two fairly scary things to occur.
First, it made me vulnerable by putting the really real, completely honest essence of me out there in, well, a really big and rather naked way.
Second, it meant giving up the facade of control.
As a bona fide control freak, it meant letting go and allowing things to be as they naturally were. I was reserving — okay, hiding — that last bit of myself from the world. And, far worse, I was trying to contain that essential essence for fear that it somehow wouldn’t meet my personal standard of perfection.
Embracing The Wild(-Haired) Woman
I vowed to change that. I’d wear it big — you know, really big.
So I locked away the restraining clips and claws and the confining barrettes. Armed with a good conditioner and some curling custard, I boldly went where I’d not gone before.
And, in this uncharted territory, I found my wild ringlets really fit my face and my personality. I liked them — no, actually, I loved them because I was them.
That boost in self-confidence and self-possession radiated. But, more importantly, allowing my super springy spirals to be as unruly as they wished had an unexpected spillover effect into the rest of my life. I stepped into my power even more fully and authentically, and I became less tightly wound in the process.
Now, I am more in the flow, more often. As such, I embrace the beauty and uniqueness in perceived imperfections — mine, others’ and life’s in general. I not only tolerate but even welcome some frizz and lack of definition at the edges — in terms of hair and otherwise.
. . .
We women, we’re expected
to keep it
properly pinned down
or neatly pulled back—
and our truth.
Our curls should conform
into perfect spirals,
and our waves should be
smooth and contained—
in the same way that
our smiles are obliged to be
sweet and ever-present.
But it’s time
to chuck our combs
and burn our brushes—
our good-girl attitudes.
We’re past due
the wild-haired ones
their untamed teachings.
Let’s step into
like Kali and her tangled tresses.
our fury into power
as Medusa and her writhing locks.
our silvered crown of wisdom
in Baba Yaga style.
. . .
Revel In Your Own “Big”
My bold and beautiful sisters, I encourage you, whether you’re curly girls or otherwise, to wear it — whatever your “it” is — big. You know, really big. You’ll be a better you for it, and you’ll give the world the gift of more authentically shining your own unique light.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends 52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve.
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