I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who didn’t have an interesting relationship with her hair, myself included. For a lot of my life, my hair and I were in the “it’s complicated” phase. A texture that is coily, kinky, curly AND straight, becoming a mother, and being a woman of a certain age all played a part in the love/hate scenario that has played out between me and my hair. None of that was new, though.
Growing up, I wanted long straight hair like so many of my classmates. They could get it wet without having to worry about it blowing up into a huge Afro, didn’t have to deal with complicated wash night rituals, and never had to know the pain of having the tip of their ear burned with a hot comb. During my college years, I went broke going to the salon for the stylist to slap lye on my hair to straighten it until there was no trace of a kink anywhere. My scalp was dry and flaky, my hair was delicate and damaged, but I could pull a comb through it and it moved when I shook my head, so that was all that mattered.
One day, after a particularly effective relaxer, I decided that I was done with having a chemical slathered on my scalp. That was in 2002, and I haven’t looked back even as my hair and I work though our issues. Regardless of the struggle that I go through in trying to figure out a style, or manage changing textures, the reality is that I’m grateful for the hair on my head. After seeing my stepmother lose her hair as she went through cancer treatment, I gained a different perspective and looked at things in my own life, including my hair, in a different way.
And then there’s Ayva. My six-year-old was blessed with the same head full of thick, coily hair that led to my aunts and stepmother bending over my head for hours to style it when I was her age. Also like me, she compares her hair to that of her friends, and at one point wished for hair that was “gold”. As you can imagine, I made it part of my life’s work to make sure she knows how beautiful her hair is exactly as it is.
I know that beauty is only skin deep and that it’s what inside that counts. I also know that feeling good about how you look, and being comfortable in your own skin (or with your own hair) makes you happier. As much as folks would like to think that it doesn’t matter, it’s a fact of human nature. To pretend that it isn’t, and to brush off Ayva’s concern about her hair, I wouldn’t be doing my duty to her as a mother. I’m glad I’m not the only one that gets it. Dove gets it, too.
At the Mom 2.0 Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona recently, Dove debuted the amazingly gorgeous, “love your curls” book. Written by the brilliant (and stunningly beautiful) artist Taiye Selasi, the book is a celebration of textures, and brought tears to my eyes as I flipped through the pages. I couldn’t wait to get it home to Ayva! Ms. Selasi spoke at the conference, and later spoke to a group of middle school girls in the Dove self-esteem workshop with Jennifer Weiner. Afterwards, while signing copies of her book, she talked to me about her own hair journey and gave me some tips for helping Ayva. The best tip she had was for me to remember my own journey to self love and to be patient with Ayva. She encouraged me to experiment with her hair, and to make it fun and exciting for her. Most importantly, she reminded me to model loving my own curls, coils and kinks.
When I returned home to Ayva and handed her the book, she sat down and started going through the pages right away. She read a couple of the poems aloud, asking me for help with words that she didn’t know. Every night before bed now, she wants me to read one of the poems to her, and points out girls in the book who remind her of herself or her friends. It’s self love, one poem at a time, one page at a time, and I’m proud to be the woman who is her guide as she grows and blossoms into her beauty story. Here’s something interesting about Dove:
New research by Dove found that more than half of women agree that their mother taught them their first beauty routine, and many still incorporate those beauty routines into their lives today. While today’s society is often dominated by celebrity culture, or viewed as such, the study unveils that it is the real relationships in a woman’s life that leave the strongest lasting beauty impression. Three times as many women said their mothers influenced their beauty routines than say celebrities have, and a staggering 84% of women trust the women in their lives over celebrities for beauty tips and advice.
The study shows the impact that these women – mothers, sisters, daughters and friends – have on each other’s relationships with beauty. From the tips they follow, the routines they practice and the advice they trust, women turning to each other positively influences their perceptions of beauty. In fact, nearly three quarters of women believe that the women in their lives have had a positive impact on how they view their personal beauty.
It’s because of this study, and the scores of letters that Dove receives from women who share how the Dove Beauty Bar and other products fit into their family history, Dove commissioned the “love your curls” book, and is making it available for download for everyone! You can even personalize the book with a poem to the special curly girl in your life. I actually cried when I saw Ayva’s name in the book. No, really. I cried. Get one of these sweet books on Dove’s Love Your Curls site, and share your #BeautyStory using the hashtag on social media.