Stress Less: Episode Ten: Beauty and Fear

Black Power PikSelf Care — Stress Less: Beauty and fear

Ok so I do find it funny that the self care part of my site “fell off” as the kids say, just as my life kicked into high gear this year. So that is my bear to wrestle, to keep staying on my regimen (yoga, meditation, clean eating, etc.). My thoughts have been full of this desire to wear my hair natural. I was nervous because I’ve finally gotten to a point in my life where my hair looks good. I can be creative with styling and it’s pretty much no work at all. Everything else is work, even the buzzed blond look I’ve always admired on other women, but have been too scared to try. To be frank, I’d rather sleep the extra 30 minutes, than experience hair drama every morning. So I went natural for about 3 weeks before getting it braided again. I studied youtube videos to figure how to style my hair without heat, because the whole point of going natural is to let my hair be healthy and heat can cause damage. I learned how to condition, what to condition with and for how long.

After watching Chris Rock’s movie Good Hair, I can’t shake the image of the disintegrated soda can that was left in the hair perm solution. Also, I’ve always wanted my hair to grow and it never did until I started getting it braided as an adult. When it comes out of the braids, it’s so soft, thick, and it’s usually grown some nice length. I want to grow it long enough for an Angela Davis Style afro for the summer. My hair isn’t long enough yet, it looks more like Maya Angelou’s fro short and sweet –Anyway, I digress— I got my hair braided because I went to a wedding, but also because I wanted to do more athletic things this summer to keep in shape (swimming, biking, hooping) and I didn’t want to have another thing to think about. The best, is that I figured out how to style it and keep it healthy—after a lifetime of pouring burning chemical on your scalp—you can’t help but wonder, who am I doing this for? Do I really want to be a friend or girlfriend to someone who thought less of me because of something as trivial as my hair? I said something similar to my orthodontist, while complaining about the pain from my braces being tightened. He said “Don’t you want the boys to like you?” and I replied “Over my teeth? If they can’t handle a crooked tooth, how would they handle it if I had a major accident?” But the sticky thing is that hair is considered a mark of beauty in our society and I can’t deny that I am affected by that.

I am discussing my natural hair story, because it should not be a big deal, it was to me and I angsted over it. Then I wondered why I expressed so much energy over my hair—I do have real major pressing issues in my life, why was I letting this be ever present in my thoughts? I dealt with this using meditation. In meditation, you practice creating a blank slate in your mind over which your thoughts pass, but don’t stop and you are passively observing the process. It really helped me see the insignificance of it, mostly in the way it didn’t change the way people interacted with me—it changed the way I interacted with people. It made me feel more like my authentic self and I realized those negative ideas, I was afraid others might have of me were literally all in my head.

Making the decision to extend my healthier living journey to my hair makes me happy. It’s difficult to explain. Many people who read this may not have a hair “issue” but this is just an example of one area in your life that you wish was better and then taking steps to get there. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy that small change. It also makes me feel a kind of solidarity with other black women who take pride in their black hair and really know how to make it into something beautiful. As a newbie, it allows me to seek advice or strike up conversations with strangers—which I usually would not do. It bridges a connection between me and other black women (like “Hey, isn’t our hair awesome? Look at all the cool things it can do!”) and it’s not to brag —it’s like a shared secret. It’s something to be celebrated not to be judged, changed, and labeled.

What I am saying is look into the quietness of your own life for something that you’ve always wanted to do but felt that knee jerk reaction of “What will people say? What if I am judged and labeled?” or even “What if I do it wrong?”” and do it anyway. I promised myself that I would embrace imperfection this year and face my fears. It always seems like there is something new to be scared of—just watch the news.   At the end of the day, hair is just hair – but among women it represents womanhood, femininity, even bald women model and have sensuality. So even the lack of hair can be sexy. This is something I wanted to do for myself—it changes no one’s world but my own—but I can take that self love and joy I feel and use it with my clients to help them learn how to empower themselves as I learn the same thing. So self care really is compassionate care that extends through you and benefits more than just you. It helps to honor your contribution by making so you can keep contributing without your running dry or your fire getting put out.

Another tool I use is making time for creative expression. Sometimes I try to do it while watching the news, something I find emotionally intense or after a stressful day, so I can release some tension through the colors and when I’m done I have a cool multimedia (because I like to mix color pencils, pens, markers, paints, whatever I can get my hands on to illustrate an idea.) to display, throw away or keep for the art journal. Here are some examples: I love words in my art:

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Or I fire up my radio and sing along, belt out the songs I love really helps me release tension and frustration—I usually pick something passionate, whether it’s angry, sad, romantic, grief, etc., it’s usually a song I can connect with emotionally. Find what makes you happy, take a chance, and make time for fun with family and pets and friends or else you will burn out.

So that is it for this episode of Stress Less: Episode 10

Thank you for reading!

Elle

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