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My Complicated Love Story

A woman with curly hair faced away from the camera

I have always had a very complicated relationship with my hair. As a kid, I remember it being very thick and bushy, my mother and I struggling with it everyday. It didn’t help that most of the girls around me had straight, soft and silky hair. That was appreciated, called beautiful, while mine wouldn’t even receive a second glance. I grew up learning that length was valued more; it is what defined ‘beautiful girls’. I was also told that longer hair is what suits my face and makes me look beautiful. My heart goes out to my younger self who was trying to fit into the ‘fair, tall, petite, slim, with silky, straight long hair’ world.

As I grew up, my horizons expanded and I saw that there was a world beyond, where people actually found my curly, wavy hair beautiful. I started basking in all the adulation and envy that I got for my long curly hair. It made me feel beautiful and confident. I grew attached to it. I became obsessed with it. I could not imagine myself without my long curly hair.

As a facilitator on issues pertaining to gender and sexuality, I had learned the hard way, that a good training is one that leaves the participants uncomfortable, pushing them to question more rather than giving them all the answers. How could I then stay unfazed in this beautiful journey of endless questions about gender and sexuality? The questions caught up with me, made me stand up and take notice of the contradictions in my being. I realised how limited and rigid my understanding of my own beauty had become. I was trapped by ‘my image of beauty’ that others had helped me create for myself. I had stopped connecting with and exploring myself, almost as if my sense of beauty had got lost somewhere in my long curly hair.

Sometimes anonymity can be very empowering. Being in a city where no one really knew me gave me the courage to do something that I could never have imagined otherwise – I just went and chopped off my hair! Initially I was on a high for doing something that was almost forbidden since my childhood. I was nervously excited about experiencing myself in this new avatar, self-conscious and anxious about whether the new short hair would suit me, my face, my clothes, my profession, my personality….

It will be almost a year since I’ve had short hair, and honestly I still do not know if short hair suits me and my personality better than my long hair did. I am not even sure which I prefer more. But I am comfortable with this ‘not knowing’. The experience that has come with the small mundane act of cutting my hair has been truly moving and liberating. It has helped me to move away from how others find me beautiful and set out on a journey of exploring what I find beautiful. It has helped me to become more aware of my deep-seated subconscious notions of beauty and gender norms, and to really experience what I talk about in my trainings.

Today I do not know whether I want to grow out my hair or keep it short; I am just trying to breathe and be in the moment. To enjoy the journey rather than worrying, and waiting for the destination!

इस लेख को हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें।

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