Remember when I said that I don’t like being even mildly addicted to anything . . . including my hair straightener? Well, I think it’s time for me to share that story. Because even though it is a very small thing to do in the grand scheme of things, for my own personal life and happiness, it was huge.
When I was a toddler it took quite long for me to grow out of my baby hair and get nice, long hair. The kind of hair you can put into a ponytail. Man, was I jealous when I saw other little girls flinging their ponytails in the air. And yes, I do have memories from that time. My memory rocks.
Eventually my hair grew longer and it was always straight. I didn’t spend much time thinking about it, or styling it. I often just let it air dry, brushed it, and that was that. It must have been when I was around 12 years old that I wanted to cut my hair shorter. I think my main inspiration was Reese Witherspoon’s bob from the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”. I definitely remember taking a picture of her that I had cut out from a magazine to the hair dresser. She cut it short and suddenly, without warning, my hair was curly. Come puberty a lot of people change hair color or structure naturally, but I didn’t know that, and no one was expecting that. Everyone else was just as surprised as I was.
While I didn’t mind having curly hair, and didn’t mourn the loss of my straight hair, it did become much harder for me to make my hair look good pretty much from one day to the next. Obviously, I had no experience with curly hair. And as anyone with curly hair knows, it has a mind of its own. You can do the exact same thing to it two days in a row, and it will still look completely different. So from then on, a lot of the times, I was pretty unhappy with how my hair looked, and I remember pulling it back into a ponytail or a bun for the most part.
Then when I was around 15 was the first time I heard of this thing called a hair straightener. A friend of mine got one, and the first time I saw her with straightened hair, I was blown away. I couldn’t believe that it actually worked! And I wanted one. I didn’t know where to get one and I was super short on cash. But I think I found one in a department store, and eventually my sister and I decided to get it.
Looking back, it is actually the crappiest hair straightener I have ever seen in my life. But I learned how to use it, and though my hair wouldn’t get pin straight with it, it got much straighter and more like the hair I used to have and knew how to style. So I was happy! Ultimately I got better hair straighteners, I learned how to straighten my hair really well, and I straightened it every day. Sometimes multiple times per day. I got a curling iron too, because it wasn’t the curls that bothered me, I think curls are lovely, it was the frizz and the unruliness that drove me insane. I just wanted shiny and soft hair. Whether that hair was straight or curly didn’t matter.
So then with my heated styling tools I was . . . kinda happy. I was happy that I had found a way to make my hair look good, but I was unhappy with the amount of time it took me to style my hair everyday, and with the extreme damage that heat did to my hair. When I had long hair, the bottom 10-20 centimeters were completely fried. They were dry, they were split up a gazillion times, and they just looked and felt horrible.
One day I was so fed up with it that I decided to cut my hair short AGAIN. But I was still straightening/curling it. So soon enough my ends started splitting and drying up again. Then, about 4 years ago at the point of writing this, I went to the hair dresser for a trim, and I got a really bad hair cut. It wasn’t a full mullet, but it got close. So with that hair cut my hair looked bad all the time. It was a new experience not being able to fix it with my straightener.
Around that time I started watching “The Conversation” with Amanda de Cadenet where she interviews female celebrities, but doesn’t ask them the usual talk show questions, and instead gets into a more personal conversation. At the end of the interview she had a series of quick fire questions that she asked all of them. One of them was, “What is your vice?”
Wikipedia’s definition of a vice is a fault, a negative character trait, a defect, an infirmity, or a bad or unhealthy habit (such as an addiction to smoking). I simply defined it as something I do even though I know it’s bad for me.
And from watching all those episodes, that question got stuck in my head. I thought about what my vice was, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I thought that for sure it had to be some kind of food, but when I thought about it, even though I loved food, and still do, there was nothing in particular that I would call a vice. I didn’t drink coffee, didn’t smoke, I rarely ever had chocolate or sweets, I couldn’t find it. So it remained an open question in my mind for a couple of weeks.
Until one day it suddenly hit me. My hair straightener! I kept straightening and curling my hair even though I knew it was bad for me. And it was a pain in the butt! Because though it made my hair look nice in the moment, it destroyed it over the long haul. And I was sick and tired of taking my hair straightener with me every time I spent the night at a friend’s house and to every vacation, and I was sick of hating my hair every time I didn’t bring it with me.
So when I realized that heat styling my hair was my vice, I decided to stop it immediately. The bad hair cut actually helped, because, as I said, there was no way to make it look good even with the hair straightener. I didn’t really know what to do with my hair because at that point I’d been heat styling my hair every day for about 8 years. So initially I simply blow dried it and just accepted the inevitable frizz. I started feeling lighter already. Then I simply let it air dry every time I washed it, and all my natural curls started to come through. But the colder the winter got, the more I wanted to find a way to blow dry my hair without blowing out the curls. So I got one of those hair dryers with a diffuser attachment, and dried my hair like that for a long time. And I swear to you, the longer I went without using straightener and curler, the better my hair started to look. It finally got healthy again and was able to grow out. And that frizz that I hated so much – turns out that’s mainly what happens when you force your hair into a shape it doesn’t want to be in. I wouldn’t characterize my hair as it is now as frizzy. Fluffy maybe. And depending on the humidity only a little fluffy or very, VERY fluffy. But I think fluffy is beautiful, and volume is beautiful, and most importantly HEALTHY is beautiful.
Eventually I figured out another way to blow dry my hair that is much quicker and easier than the diffuser and still allows my hair to be as wavy as it wants to be. Right now my hair is longer and more beautiful than it ever was before, it is HEALTHY, and it only takes me a couple of minutes to blow dry it! And if there’s no hair dryer at hand or no time, I simply let it air dry and I’m happy too. My life is so much easier because of this. And I love my hair more than I ever did before.
For me this simply goes to show that the most beautiful hair, is healthy hair. Doesn’t matter what color, length, or structure. If it’s healthy, it’s gonna look good. And I only discovered that once I let my hair lead the way, instead of trying to make it into something it’s not. Was there an awkward stage? For sure. But mainly because I started out with a horrible hair cut. And I actually started getting more and more compliments on my hair when I finally let it be . . . just be. But more importantly, I’M so much happier with my hair now.
When I think back on how much harder I made my life because of this hair thing, I can’t help but shake my head. Especially during my professional dance training. I would get to the studio every day and sweat for 5 hours. And every night, no matter how tired I was (and during that time I was exhausted!), I would wash my hair, blow dry it, and straighten/curl it. All of which took an hour or more. Only to show up to the studio the next morning, tie my hair up, and get it sweaty again. For what? smh a million times.
And that is why I said in the beginning that for my own personal life, quitting the heated styling tools was huge, because I’m not only saving so much time, but believe it or not, the state of my hair had a major impact on my mood. And I know the same is true for a lot of people. There’s a reason why “bad hair day” is an expression. I remember so many of my early days with my boyfriend being dampened because I felt so inexplicably uncomfortable in my skin, simply because I didn’t like my hair that day. It didn’t matter how often he told me I was beautiful – I didn’t FEEL beautiful. And no one but myself could change that.
And I just want to say, because I’ve been encountered with that judgment quite a few times throughout my life, wanting to feel beautiful is NOT shallow. I actually think the desire for beauty is as much a part of the human experience as the desire for love. Because I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who didn’t want to look good. And the thing is, when you don’t feel beautiful, it can negatively impact so many areas of your life. When you don’t feel pretty, it takes up so much space in your mind. It hardly leaves any room for more important things. Imagine if I had felt comfortable in my skin during those early days with my boyfriend. Imagine how much more fun he and I would have had together. I would have felt so much better, and I would have been a much better girlfriend. But it doesn’t just impact romantic relationships. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing on any given day or who you’re with, when you feel uncomfortable in your skin, it impacts your mood and takes up a lot of your mental capacity.
I always say, when you KNOW you’re beautiful, you no longer THINK about it. And that frees up so much space in your mind to think about more important things, to be more productive, to be a better partner, a better parent, a better employee, and so much more. That’s why I don’t think it’s shallow to want to feel beautiful. Because once you do, once that’s a given, you are free to focus on more important things.
This is just one story, about one person. But how can you apply this information to your life? What’s your vice? If you have a similar relationship with your hair or any other body part, I’m begging you to embrace your natural beauty. Believe me, beauty is part of the natural order. All things in nature have beauty programmed into their system, including you. The problem is that sometimes we interfere with the process (just as I interfered by straightening my hair). But when you let nature do it’s thing, and choose actions to support that natural order, beauty is inevitable. It’s in your blueprint, in your DNA. But maybe your vice lives in another area of your life. Maybe it has to do with another unhealthy habit, maybe it has to do with your body, with your thought processes, an unhealthy relationship, maybe you’re burning the candle at both ends, maybe it’s your body image, your sedentary lifestyle, but whatever it is, please choose your health, your well-being and your happiness. Life is already hard enough – we don’t have to make it even harder for ourselves.
Thank you for reading!
Now I would love to hear from you . . .
What is your vice?
What unhealthy habit are you still holding on to?
And what’s one step you can take today to start healing that area of your life?
Please post a comment below and let’s chat.
Lots of love,
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