How my hair reflections taught me the most important life lesson?
I have had a complex relationship with my hair for as long as I can remember. My hair was very thick, coarse, and black when I was young. I always hated it and didn’t know what to do with it. Here is a small peek into my hair reflections.
I first became insecure about my hair when I was five years old.
My aunt was bathing me in the bathtub, and the brush got stuck in my hair. She was yelling at me and telling me how tangled and bad my hair was as if somehow it was my fault. Then, before I knew it, she got the scissors, and the locks of my hair were cut off. This was my first traumatic experience with my hair.
My second traumatic experience happened when I was in grade school.
My hair had gotten longer, and my mom would have to dedicate fifteen minutes every morning to brushing out my hair and braiding it for school. One day, my mom was sick, and she couldn’t get out of bed to fix my hair. My hair was out of control, and I had to go to school with my crazy bed hair.
I attended a strict Catholic school, and we had to line up in tidy lines before class. The nuns or teachers would walk down each row of children and ensure we had the correct black shoes, white socks, and clean uniforms. Our nails always had to be kept short with our hair tidy. When they saw my hair, I was immediately dragged out of line. They dragged me to the water faucet against the wall, turned on the cold water, and stuck my head underneath it. I desperately tried to explain that running water over it wouldn’t work, and eventually, she let go of my wet hair. This experience was humiliating, and I spent the entire day with tears in my eyes. I put my head on my desk and kept my face buried away so that my friends wouldn’t see me cry.
The third time I had a bad experience with my hair was my choice.
It was a very difficult process to braid my hair as it was extremely long. I secretly decided to go to the hair salon my mom usually went to, and I asked If I could get a haircut. When they asked if my mom was okay with me getting my haircut, I said, of course. My hair previously reached below my waist, so it was very obvious that I got a haircut. Not only did I get a haircut, but I really got my hair chopped. My hair was so short that I felt the cold air on my neck when I walked out of the hair salon.
After my haircut, I couldn’t walk back home. My tears started pouring down. I felt naked and like everyone was watching me. Instead, I stopped by a friend’s house on the way home. My haircut made me look like a different person and my friend was in shock. But, she was kind to me and brought me some lemonade, and came down to talk to me before I had to go back home.
Once I got home, well, let’s just say my parents were unhappy with my decision to cut my hair. My mom yelled at me for the first time and said that I looked like a boy. She sent me to my room.
As women, we all share and identify with this feminine crown of hair.
We express ourselves as women through our hairstyles. It represents our sexuality; we feel empowered. It boosts our self-esteem and sometimes brings out our jealousy of other women who have better hair than us. Both my grandmas have their hair hidden under sheer black scarves with gray braids coming down on their shoulders. I thought it was beautiful. It symbolizes wisdom and inner beauty.
In my mom’s era, most women in Jordan would go to the hair salon once a week and get their hair done. It has been an ongoing tradition that women in Jordan never wash or style their hair at home.
When my mom was doing chemotherapy for her lung cancer, I saw her cry for the first time.
She was standing at the bathroom sink looking at the mirror and had a piece of her hair in her hands. It was starting to fall out, and she was devastated. We both cried deeply. I knew what her hair meant to her. She loved getting her hair styled at the salon. She felt good; the half an hour she spent sitting in the hair salon was her moment of self-care. After a few conversations with her, my sister and I told her we would get a wig that matched her hairstyle and color.
After that, I kept my hair short for a long time. It was easy to manage, and I had it cut every four weeks. I washed it with shampoo and followed up with conditioner. Sometimes I would even throw in some coconut oil. I finally made peace with my curls and accepted my natural hair for how it was.
I shaved my head to reclaim my power as a woman
Well, that didn’t last long, and I shaved off all my hair. I was bald. Don’t worry; it’s not what you think. I neither got sick nor have cancer. I wasn’t losing my hair.
Instead, I felt like I was losing my power as a woman. I felt betrayed by everyone, including the closest people to me! There was nothing I could do at that time to change the situation. Finally, one early morning after a long night of crying, I decided to shave my head. I got off my bed, walked to the bathroom sink, and started cutting my hair. I cut my hair short enough to shave it all off. By the time I finished, I had felt a sense of relief in my heart. There were no more tears. I reclaimed my power as a woman, and it felt like I hit the reset button.
Then I had to face the question, “what happened to you?” My kids made fun of me, and they were young to understand what was going on. A few of my friends even assumed that I had an interest in the same sex. The older men in my café wanted to touch my head to see how it felt, and I allowed it but made sure they had to pay me. I collected sixty dollars.
Now, my husband repeatedly asks me when I am going to dye my hair or add highlights.
My answer so far has always been that I love my gray, and I love to be able to tie it in a bun. For now, that will remain my answer. Finally, I am at peace with my hair. After 45 years, go figure. I guess some take longer than others. And only then I realized, what my hair was trying to teach me all along! I’m different! So are you! We are unique, wild, fun, sassy people with different personalities! And all this while I was trying to be like others- trying to tame my wild hair!
Embrace your uniqueness!
We are born different! We are unique; one of a kind. Don’t try to fit into molds set up by the society! Break patriarchy! Break rules that define you. Be free, Be uniquely you! So, has your hair ever taught you such important life lessons? I would love to hear all your crazy hair stories and even those that are tamer. Just drop me a comment or send me a email- I would live to talk to you:)