Hair. Straightened, bleached, coloured, curled, relaxed, suffocated under layers of toxic products, few are the women (and even men nowadays) who accept their natural hair or head as it is.
Marketing campaign after marketing campaign, product after product, they’ve destroyed our self-esteem, we’ve lost faith in our ability to love ourselves as we are, replaced it with the quest for an illusion that is ever-changing and most times, just out of reach.
For years I battled this wild mane of hair on my head, like many women before ceramic straighteners were invented I ironed it, often scalding my forehead and ears in the process.
Then came the colour and heat treatments and bleach, I tortured my hair and myself all these years because I had let myself believe the lies they effectively pump us full of since birth to make themselves richer and richer.
Until I decided I was done poisoning my mind and body and embarked on a journey of learning to love myself, naturally, as I am. I’m not going to lie, it could be easier, it might even be the work of a lifetime. I’m trying and that is all anyone can really ever do.
To start, I looked at the time I was spending on my hair, the number of appointments and products and the sheer quantity of toxicity present within them and in contact with my skin and planet, not to mention the plastic waste on top of that. I asked myself why I was doing it all, was it really because I enjoyed it, or was it because conforming to the media’s latest concept of beauty is what defines a woman’s value for many of us?
The first 5 pictures are my hair now, naturally sunkissed and savage, baby white hair and frizzy in places, but a true expression of my genes in material form, whether we like it or not, that’s just what I came in with. The last 5 pictures are how I hid for years, chemically dried out and burnt to a crisp, loaded with toxins and toasted even further to smooth it into submission. Sure it’s probably more agreeable to society, but after everything I’ve learned, I’m not about that nonsense anymore.
It was all exhausting to be honest, and even if I still don’t fully accept myself, I’m very glad to have chosen to detach in whatever way possible from this toxic industry and self-abasing behaviour, my physical and mental health is benefitting in so many ways I’d need an hour to explain it all.
When I think back to the things I did in the name of beauty it makes me shudder, I now see it as a kind of socially acceptable form of abuse and it needs to stop. I’ll have been here for 32 years soon, noticing more and more white hairs appearing but I’m ready to accept the challenge of ageing as my body is programmed to, with grace and without artifice.
After realising the extent of toxic, damaging ingredients being used in common products we automatically assume safe, the greenwashing and lies surrounding the push for natural and organic products, and the profits being made amongst all of it. It really hurt to see what we are doing to ourselves, animals and the planet because it’s been suggested that we might not be enough as we are, and we believe it no matter the cost.
I hear all these women who are ashamed of their appearance, even after suffering trauma or giving birth, who are ashamed of the way they change with the wisdom and force they acquire over the years, who even undergo serious surgery and injections that are played down and even normalised from a younger and younger age, all just to appease that destructive voice inside, a voice that wouldn’t even reside there if we didn’t keep chasing the carrot the celebrity, media and tv society dangles so provocatively before us. Enough is enough and it starts with us.