Unboxing Challenge: Day 1 — Sex Hair!
It took me ’til well into my 20s to embrace my natural hair texture. I grew up longing for shiny, sleek hair, because I’d internalized the nonsensical idea that my “frizzy” hair looked “bad” or “messy.” I was deeply self-conscious that there were always corkscrew strands and wisps (and sometimes a whole veritable HALO of fuzz) bursting out in all their glory from any blow-out, braid, or bun. I felt like my hair’s personality “ruined” any look, hated that I could never brush it dry, nor could I make a truly straight part. For years, I smothered it in cocktails of gel/frizz serum/leave-in-conditioner/curl cream, determined that SOMEDAY it would look as “perfect” as straight hair, or even as “perfect” as man-made curls.
I didn’t realize it was already perfect.
Eventually, I stopped using all the products and let my hair be itself. I still thought straight hair was beautiful, but I also realized I thought all kinds of textures were beautiful — so why not my own? Finally, I recognized that my hair was part of. . . myself. And it was time to love ALL of myself.
I embrace my natural texture now. I like having built-in volume. I like that, whenever it gets sweaty, instead of going limp, my hair just becomes. . . shall we say, “enhanced.” 😉 I like that, on a misty evening years ago at a party, a woman remarked that my hair made me “look like an artist.” (Why, what a compliment!) I like that my hair reflects my ancestry, a “gift” with roots much older than the ones on my head; it wasn’t designed to conform to Anglo-Saxon beauty ideals, and that is perfectly okay. I like that my hair has its own plan for any given day, isn’t given to predictability or blind obedience. And even though I finally realize there’s nothing “messy” about it, I still like that having “sex hair” makes me look like a wild woman: untamable, in touch with herself.
It took me WAY too long to get here, but now I honestly can’t think of any texture that would be more “me” than this.
My relationship with this feature has been complicated, but one thing I’ve learned over the years as a result of my hair’s “expression” is that
Even though the body is not the be-all of the soul’s experience, it is OKAY to care about your physical body. If it is a piece of you, it is worthy of your love and care and celebration.
This took a long time for me to learn. I was reluctant to embrace or celebrate much about my physical self for a very long time because I’d internalized a sense of guilt and self-consciousness about doing so. This was sort of an extension of a bookworm adolescence wherein I had internalized the absurd idea that playing up or flaunting my physical self might somehow jeopardize people’s respect for my mind and my heart. This anxiety found itself rekindled during a few years in the world of academia, where women are often met with disdain for looking “too feminine.” Next, when I segued from academia to my attempts at a writing life and began a blog that serendipitously, and much to my surprise, morphed into a resource for New Age-inspired self-help advice (I had started it just intending it to be about my quarterlife crisis, amusingly enough!), I again felt the pressure — completely self-imposed — not to spotlight my more corporeal concerns at all.
… unless those corporeal concerns were about, say, how a health issue might have reflected a spiritual/personal growth hurdle. How depressing: our physical vessels deserve SO much more than illness-focused attention!
So no. No no no. Time to stop compartmentalizing and acting like the body or its features are a stain on the mind, the heart, or the spirit.
The truth is, I am more than just a bookworm and more than just a blogger who sits around thinking spiritual thoughts. We ALL are more than intellect and soul — we are souls with bodies! YAY!
EARTHLY LIFE IS THE SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE, and all of its trappings that exist in our worlds, exist in them because they lend themselves to the richness of our experience.
Sure, sometimes an epiphany comes when, say, I’ve taken a walk through Berlin and paused to contemplate a memorial. But other times, an insight comes when, say, a man notices me and maybe invites me on a date. In fact, A LOT (far from all, but a lot) of what I have learned that I am able to share thus far — in other words, a lot of what has made me a kinder, more thoughtful, more spiritually aware person — relates to my physical vessel and the experiences it facilitates in this lifetime.
Which is true of all of us: EVERYONE’S PROCESS HERE IS FACILITATED BY THEIR PHYSICAL VESSELS.
Think about that one. 😉
You CAN be in touch with, CELEBRATE, your physicality and see this approach SUPPORT your learning, healing, and growth. And you can be committed to your own learning, healing, and growth as a spiritual being while also celebrating your physical self and material “treasures” — and their role in your own learning, healing, and growth process.
Even though my concept of “beauty” is very broad, I still struggle in some ways, to be honest, with how to embrace the concept of “beauty” in myself. But I have grown, as a person, even through quests that some might condemn as “vain.” Searching for answers to questions like, “Why did I suddenly become overweight, and why can’t my doctors figure it out either?” or “Why has my hair been falling out?” — these kinds of questions have led me to some very unexpected and life-enriching insights, given enough time.
Self-love is a work in progress for me. Even with respect to my hair. I can’t claim that I’m 100% happy with how it looks every day. In fact, on most days, I am not 100% happy with how it looks.
But perhaps that’s why I take these moments when I do feel gratitude for my soul’s physical vessel and celebrate them. Perhaps that’s why such moments mean so much to me. Because you are deserving of all your love, all the time. I do not believe that denying or rejecting the body are the way we must “grow.” I like to see the body as a friend, an ally, giving us messages about and supporting our soul.
Pick a feature of yours today that you’ve rejected for ages — and decide to fall in love with it. Meanwhile, celebrate an aspect of your physical self that you have finally come to love.