Embracing Natural Beauty: Self-Awareness and Self-Acceptance at 17

We love our MopTop customers, and we especially love to hear their stories and follow their hair journeys.  Here’s one that particularly touched me from Sarah, who is 17, and coming into her own as she embraces her natural beauty.

“Ouch, Mom!”

These are two words I remember constantly yelling as a little girl during neighborhood parties as my mother raked through my knotted mess of hair, while all the other little girls began to play. Rarely does one phrase signify so much, but part of me ‘being me’ is the fact that I have extremely curly, strawberry blond hair that twists and turns, and closely resembles ramen noodles.

My hair is so big that I break hair ties on a daily basis, and it’s about as frizzy as an old sweater. However, it is mine and it is what I get to work with.

I am known for my hair. The very simple idea that my hair is like a fingerprint and unlike anyone else’s has forced me to not only learn how to manage my hair, but also to accept change and the natural me.

During the many stages of a girl’s life, insecurities will abound, but many are quickly pushed aside because to everyday people they are not noticeable. For a girl, however, your hair can determine what kind of day you have and how you feel about yourself. I still remember fifth grade vividly because I had to learn how to do my hair by myself. Ordinarily, this would not seem complicated, but I repeatedly messed it up and ended up looking like a lion, and felt embarrassed by my appearance for the rest of the day.

Time after time, I sat in front of my mirror and tried to do my hair, however as the years went by and I thought I had figured it out, something would change, like the curl pattern or the texture, and I would have to start completely over again. This was incredibly frustrating, and that frustration was compounded by both personal and outside influences . From the outside looking in, I was just a girl who woke up and cried every day while struggling to make my hair look presentable, but really I was a girl struggling internally to accept who I was and be my natural self.

Magazine covers constantly showed girls with beautiful straight hair. One article in particular spoke to me. Although I do not remember the magazine name, I remember the message: all girls look better with straight hair. Immediately, my mindset changed about liking my curly hair and I begged my Mom for the only thing that would make me happier, a Brazilian Blowout. Filled with formaldehyde and harmful chemicals, not only was I begging my Mom to destroy my hair, but I was ultimately asking her to destroy my identity. I was blinded by personal opinions confirming the article, including my best friend and father expressing a preference for my straight hair. Regrettably, I fought against myself to try to be “perfect” for the world, until I realized that having straight hair was not who I was naturally.

It has now been two years since I last straightened my hair and although many days begin in frustration, a million tiny strands have taught me that you must work with what you have. Persistence in the face of change is a very valuable lesson and I am grateful that I never gave up on being me. I felt like my body was being pulled in two directions, one by my wild hair and the other by the world, but I eventually discovered more freedom and security in being independent and being myself than conforming to the patterns of society.

Trying to be like everyone else never satisfied me, as I had once hoped, but being my authentic self does. I have decided that when people tell me I look like a lion, or pretend to eat my “ramen noodles”, or tell me my hair is SUPER frizzy, that is okay because that is what makes me who I am.

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