An Anti-Bullying Story: A Story of Faith and First Impressions

The first thing you notice about a person is their face and the second is their hair, unless it’s particularly distracting (and then it IS the first). You have about 3 seconds to make a first impression. In a nutshell, our first impressions are sorted into two categories – “Acceptable” or “Unacceptable”.

We learn this at a very young age. Think about how young children look at the world and how they fit into it. They are not self-conscious or embarrassed. They are open and accepting, and they learn quickly whether or not they are accepted.

But the “acceptability” factor really starts to hit home for girls around age 9. I have three girls and it’s what I know best (not trying to leave out boys)! After they reach this season, everything changes and their self-confidence is chipped away little by little as their self-worth is defined more by “the world”, and the definition of beauty becomes less attainable.

Several years ago, we conducted a MopTop Frizz Intervention for young people in the Dallas area. We did interviews and asked the participants what they liked about their hair, what they didn’t like, and what they hoped to learn. We took “Before” photos, videotaped the interview, taught them how to work with their hair to get the best results, and what products to use, then took “After” photos.

That’s where I met Faith (not her real name), who was a 13 year old 7th grader. She was just precious and had an exotic look about her, like a young Sophia Loren. Beautiful, luscious Botticelli curls, braces, and the sweetest smile… but her eyes were sad.

During the interview process Faith broke down, and we had to stop the interview. We had reached the question of what she didn’t like about her hair. Faith had been suffering hair loss. This was not due to health or hereditary – it was due to stress. Stress that was created by some very mean kids. One tormentor in particular liked to hurl expletives at her, telling her she was ugly, had frizzy hair, and had a hawk nose.

These hurtful and harmful words had deeply affected the way Faith saw herself and believed others to also see her, crippling her in social situations, and resulting in hair loss. Faith was old enough to understand the words, the intent, and the malice, but too young to be equipped to effectively respond, ask an adult for help, take a stand.

So that’s what we attempted to do for Faith and all the other young people attending that Frizz Intervention – to build up their confidence with kindness and compliments, and equip them with how to work with and enhance their hair, to free them from at least one self-perceived “flaw” – in short, to give them a really great hair day and drive home how great they already were! The freedom to not have a fight their hair, and to embrace their natural beauty. That was the goal!

Flash forward – Faith’s confidence bloomed over time and she went on to become an accomplished dancer and an officer in her high school’s drill team. I ran into her a few years ago at one of my daughter’s dance competitions. I was sitting in the bleachers and I noticed this stunning young lady with gorgeous Botticelli curls, and then I noticed her poise and confidence. What an excellent and rewarding first impression after not seeing her for some time. Faith is in college now and THRIVING! I believe people make choices in life based on how they feel about themselves and I believe a Good Hair Day can change the WORLD… and I can’t wait to see what Faith does in her life.

One of three young people are bullied every year.  A recent social experiment conducted by Burger King showed that only 12% of customers in a restaurant intervened on behalf of a child who appeared to be a victim of bullying. Remember… take a stand.  Intervene.  Make an impact.  Be part of the 12%!

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