Oh these women, the Valerie Bertinellis, the Jaqueline Smiths, the stupid popular girls at school, how they plague me. All day long, every day, as I sit through class and watch my hair fall, I wonder, how do they do it? How do they keep their hair from falling out of the curls and into their eyes? There must be some form or witchcraft, just beyond my reach...
Gone were the care-free days with my ponytail, gathered at the back of my head, just above the nape of my neck, and hanging down the middle of my back. Oh, the days of simplicity, where I barely needed to look at myself in the mirror. How I missed them.
I couldn't tell what was more painful, having to stand in front of the mirror for two hours every morning, or the constant awareness all day long that my efforts were once again, for naught.
Fucking Farrah Fawcett.
This was the beginning and the end of my tangle with beauty products. I didn't really totally give them up until I was in my twenties, and still, occassionally, I will put on make-up for a wedding or what have you. But I have one hard and fast rule: If my hair is to be done, it will be done by someone with skills. This usually involves having my Bestie, Annie do it or going to a salon when she is not handy to get myself an updo.
After the years I spent in front of the mirror torturing myself, I learned several valuable lessons:
- Don't ever let 12 year old girls tell you how to style your hair. They are ill informed and rarely have your best interest at heart, though they really believe they do.
- Do not participate in any activity that makes you doubt yourself for 12 hours a day. This leads to serious self-hatred the likes of which will then take years of therapy to work through.
- Do not do things that don't feel like you. My ponytail, regardless of the level of fashionability, made me feel good. It was well-suited to my lifestyle, and enabled me to do all the things I loved to do WITHOUT CONSTANTLY WORRYING ABOUT MY HAIR.
- If you spend two hours every morning in front of the mirror crying because you have to look at yourself, you are seeing yourself through another person's lenses. It is time to take those off and re-adjust your own.
- Hot metal rods should at all costs be kept away from the neck.
I wasn't meant to look like these women. I was meant to look like me. This is a hard lesson to learn when you are changing and growing and you are being directed towards things which you don't completely understand, but it must be learned, if you are to have any peace at all.
You are meant to be you, and you are the expert of your you-ness. Sound Seussian? Well, it is. In all the best ways. The world will tell you to look like other people. Your friends, relatives, the TV, movies, magazines, they all present the current idea of what a woman or man should look like, including publicly shaming people that don't with horrifying programming dictating "what NOT to wear." While those people might be nice to look at, they are not real, not a one of them. Not as far as you're concerned, anyway. They are fabricated images created to get you to want to change into them by buying stuff that will guarantee that.
I know. It sounds super boring. But that is the reality. All those beautiful men and women are just as real and miserable as you are, and that is because they are also trying to be something they are not.
Some people go through their ENTIRE LIVES on this hamster wheel, never getting anywhere because they are not trying to move towards themselves, but towards an unattainable fantasy that no one can accomplish.
This is the nightmare of consumer culture. It takes you away from yourself and keeps you from seeing the beauty within you and the beauty that surrounds you, because it gives you a false set of parameters by which to measure people.
How do you get off it? Listen to your body. It will tell you. Crying for almost two hours every day and worrying for another 8 told me, eventually, that I was just trying to be someone I wasn't. My body was begging me to stop every single day. And I didn't listen because of all the messaging thrown my way. I doubted my body's messaging even though it was practically screaming at me.
This is the true beauty of our bodies. They know us. The know who we are before we do, and they always have our best interest at heart. It is up to us to turn off the TV, put down the magazine and LISTEN. That is all. Just listen to your body. And pay it the respect it deserves by acting on its messages.
Farrah Fawcett doesn't really deserve to be cursed, nor does anyone else who is striving to fit into impossible beauty standards. It is a trap that is too easy to fall into, too easy to believe, and too easy to spend your life chasing.
But it is not impossible to break away. All it takes is a few moments, all it takes is a willingness to listen.
Are you willing?