When I was a little girl, I loved the movie Curly Sue. I loved the little girl with a head full of big curly hair, jovial and fun-loving, and I liked watching her because I envisioned myself. However, at the end of the movie, the biggest heartbreak for me was after leaving her orphan-lifestyle, she was forced to cut off her long curly locks into a short, shoulder-length hairstyle. Yes, this was the absolute saddest part of the movie in my mind.
Being in this competition has allowed me to realize a few things while preparing. One, there is a real meaning to being a true lady. Two, I don’t always think that these competitions always display that true lady-like behavior because of the nature of a competition. Three, even with today’s diversity, there is still only one idea of “beauty”. Yes, they like the idea of being multi-cultural, but still, that multi-cultural mentality is still supposed to assimilate to a certain extent. Even with my body type, I’m thin but my dimensions are “too thick” for their idea of a slender woman. Yes, thank God I have managed a way to slim down two waist-inches in a little over a month, but I’m still not that ideal slender shape. Fine, I love my body and I don’t expect to have Barbie-doll-thin thighs overnight (nor do I want to).
However, my largest set-back has been my hair. I absolutely love it and try my best to maintain it, experiment with different styles, color, trends; it is a way of self-expression. A woman’s hair is her crown; how she wears it defines who she is. The texture, consistency, coarseness, and volume of our hair is out of our control and should not determine the type of women we’ll become.
Being a petite woman, my coach, for one, feels as if I should have shorter hair. “It drags you down,” she says. I also wear my hair naturally, sporting curls, waves, or bushiness on occasion. “I don’t want any of that fuzzy stuff,” she’ll say. Okay, fine. However, my love for self was truly questioned when my coach wanted me to have a hairstyle for my portfolio photo shoot; I did it in a very similar manner and I sent her a picture of it beforehand to get her thoughts. “I hate that hairstyle on you. It just drags,” she remarked. This deeply saddened me. I have never felt slighted about my hair because I love it and take so much pride in its freeness.
This all makes me question if it is really about the styling or is it more so about the texture and the way that gravity holds my hair and the way that God has allowed my ancestors to mingle to create the tiny curls on the top of my head or the occasional fly-aways that wisp even when there may not be a breeze. Should I do whatever it takes and apply a “straightening process” or cut my locks that mean so much to me as a woman of African and Native-American descent? How would we have been as little girls growing up if all of our hours spent brushing and doing our dolls’ hair would have been short-lived because they would have had shorter hair?
If I am supposed to represent our nation and the ideas and principles that we were built upon, why should I be a complete product of conformity rather than show my individuality and likeness and still maintain the American values of a melting pot? There are some things that I understand that I must do to play the game; however, I refuse to lose a sense of self and I only cut my hair when I want to cut my hair and redefine MYSELF. Not for anyone else.