My hair is in its most awkward, most annoying length. It does not behave in the ways I wish it would, in the ways I witness hair behaving for others, as I am still wrestling, at 30 years old, with not comparing my beauty and appearance to others. I find myself wondering lately if we can decide whether or not something is beautiful. That nothing is or isn’t beautiful, it’s what we decide it is. And for many many generations, men have decided what is beautiful. White people have decided what is beautiful. Advertising has decided what is beautiful. All on our behalf. Things we are not decided what we are. If they made the arbitrary decision that my asymmetrical face, and acne scars, and wily hair is not beautiful, I could just as easily make the decision that it is.
I would like my hair to be long again (it is currently between my neck and my chin, sporting this extremely annoying flip out from the base of my neck that I canNOT put an end to). I want to sweep it up into a ponytail or bun and not think about it, but no matter how many bobby pins or elastic bands I use, little whisps of my chocolate colored mess find their way to my neck, the side of my face, etc, bothering me. A reminder that things aren’t exactly how I want them to be.
I am sitting with my true eye brows for the first time since I was a child. I don't mention to anyone, not even my partner, that once a month I shape my eyebrows with cream and tweezers and scissors, all things I do not have access to at the moment. They are growing back with an almost defiant speed and girth. Full and long and thick, branches and brambles, sitting above my eyes like stoic burly guards of my most vulnerable expressers. It is a surprisingly emotionally painful process to watch them twist and stretch after being trimmed and delicate for so long. I wince sometimes when I look at them, as voices whisper to me that hair on a woman, especially on Latina women, is ugly and should be tamed or removed. Executed for its wildness. How dare it defy what they, the gods of beauty, have decided a woman’s body can do?
But in that way, it is also cathartic. To so directly defy the gods of beauty, and to begin to look at my natural eyebrows with a little more respect and admiration. They are pushing me to be more radically accepting of myself. I cannot promise that after our time in isolation I will not return to my old method of cream and tweezers, but I am trying very hard to learn the lesson my hair is teaching me.
It strikes me that maybe this is what growth is like. The work to be done in the form of discomfort, a constant reminder of its presence, encouraging us to keep doing the work,
even when we wince.
Awkward, imperfect, and always present, moving things, slowly and painstakingly, towards a better version.
Maybe this is what it is for something to grow.