What is beauty to you? Is it the soft curves of a woman’s form or the visions of humanity and its gods captured on canvas or in stone? Or is it the natural beauty you find in the world around us?
In some cultures, beauty is held in the hair of a child, who grows into a man or woman and continues the tradition of believing in the power of that beauty held on one’s dome. As a child, my mother doted over my hair, leaving it to grow very long and often wild (picture Moana on a bad hair day!). I still remember meeting my aunt and watching her brush her hair that fell below her bottom and thinking that I had just a few inches to go before my hair would be just as long. That is, until I became a teenager and could make decisions for myself about my body.
Growing up, I found it very difficult to fulfill my mother’s ideals of what a daughter should look like. The silk blouses worn with long skirts, stockings and court shoes worn every Sunday to church would be stripped off and replaced by baggy jeans, oversized t-shirts and my white and pink high-cuts as soon as we got home. French plaits and chignons were unravelled so that a high pony that looked like a horse’s tail could bounce and flick every time I skipped around the house. My poor mother would pull her lips down at my appearance and lecture me on what a lady should look like. After all, I was her prize doll to show off to her friends – look at my barbie doll: she can dance, sing and dress like a lady!
Even after leaving home, I would often visit my mum before or after work to catch up and let her know I was still alive and well. She would waste no time in criticizing my hair, how ratty it looked or what an awful hairstyle I had chosen to wear that day. In the end, it all became too much and I took drastic action. After a particularly demeaning conversation with her, I stormed off to my best friend’s house and found her younger sister cutting the little sister’s hair (there are three girls in the family). She was kind enough to lop off my long, ratty locks, giving me a helmet-like bob cut. It felt incredible. Suddenly, I had the power to change who I was and what I looked like. When my mother saw me the next day, she nearly fainted with shock. After that, I never heard another bad word about my hair. I felt empowered.
The reason I mention this story is because over the years, I have noticed the pressure to look a certain way or dress a certain way, especially among the younger children who have access to social media, has increased. The influence to change the shape of your body to meet the social trends of beauty or installing fake pieces to body parts, including hair, has disillusioned the young into thinking their own beauty is not enough. I personally hate seeing young children worrying about their hair or eye or skin colour; the fact that they worry about the shape of their bodies because it doesn’t match their favourite you-tuber, celebrity icon or some ad that tells them what beauty is supposed to be. Without seeing further than what is skin deep, how will they realise that the beauty they long to behold is beneath the polished veneers of porcelain dolls existing today.
In my case, finding my sense of outward beauty comes in having control over my own looks, not following trends or setting any, just being happy with me. And that sometimes means cutting away the old to get a fresh start on the new – that is, my hair. So, for 2019, I will now be sporting a new hairstyle courtesy of my third sprog who kindly cut off the extra locks and to my Hubble who carefully ensured a good fade at the back and sides. Who needs a hairdresser when you have a family keen to use scissors on your head?
What’s your take on beauty? How do you keep control over what your outer skin looks like? Let me know in the comments.