Beneath the surface

Beauty and fashion often seem like frivolous pursuits. As a child, I rather disdained them myself; they just weren’t important to me. I’m still a fairly low maintenance kind of woman, but as I’ve gotten older I realize why they’re so important.

Obviously, people judge you based on your outward appearance. But the real kicker is how your appearance displays what you feel about yourself. I won’t expound on that because I know you all have heard it before, it’s not a novel concept. It really hit home to me recently though. I’m on the brink of a massive life transition–next year I will be done with law school (FOREVER praisetheLordhallelujah!!! *church stomp*), move in with Tex and get married. From May 11, 2013 onward my life is a blank page. What will I fill it with? Who do I want to be? Certainly not the modest-bordering-on-timid girl that my current wardrobe makes me out to be. After a life spent trying to blend in, I’ve realized that standing out is okay sometimes and I’m slowly but steadily making adjustments. A little sparkle on the neck or wrist never hurt anyone. Not all dresses and skirts are impractical and uncomfortable. And there’s a wonderful middle ground between high heels and hi-tops that makes me feel positively chic. 🙂

But then there’s my hair. I dyed it yesterday. I got caramel brown highlights when I did my Big Chop last summer. I liked them, but as soon as I got them I couldn’t wait for them to grow out. Since my grays were showing and I only have 1-2 inches of highlights left since I never touched them up, I dyed it. I was thrilled when I looked in the mirror. The highlights just gave me a lightness that I don’t feel. Mysterious, sophisticated black is my natural hair color and I’ve always been in love with it. However, there are other things that aren’t so easily changed or reversible. I struggle with being natural because the unruly cloud that grows  from my scalp is at odds with how I envision myself. I’ve flirted with the idea of being wild and bohemian, but the idea of trying on that persona is like putting on a clown suit to me. “Not I,” said the cat! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my natural hair. I don’t think it’s ugly or that there’s anything inherently wrong with it…it just doesn’t feel like me.

Now, there are some practical considerations. I don’t miss the chemical risks associated with relaxers, but then again…. surely 3-4 relaxers a year can’t be more damaging than putting a 16-20% concentration of aluminum on my underarms everyday. I drink bottled water & use reheatable Ziploc food storage. Ya know? And funny enough, while people complain about what humidity and sweat does to their perms I have a far more difficult time maintaining my twists & twist-outs than I ever did my perm. I have spent as much or more money trying to find hair products that work on my natural hair, than I did on a bimonthly relaxer at the salon. (Let’s not even talk about how much it costs for weave & braids.) And the time commitment is ridiculous too! I used to be able to wash & dry my hair in one hour, and it only took longer if I got fancy with a roller set. Every hour I spend on my hair is an hour less I can spend on cooking, exercising, or simply relaxing.

So I’m at a crossroads. I’m going to give it another month before I do anything irreversible, but I really think a perm might be best for my lifestyle. I guess the real question is, why does it even matter?

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