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FEATURES May 9 2013 4:29PM

Mother's Day Reflections: How My Mother Helped Me Love Myself and My Hair

by Jessica Gray HairGetsKinky.com

My hair is my crown. But I did not always wear her with pride as a queen should. In fact, there was a time when I was seriously dissatisfied with my hair.

I didn’t always love my hair. In fact, I didn’t always love myself.

I was taller than all of the boys. Puberty seemed to have skipped over me for a while and I remained rail thin until college. My often bushy hair had earned me the nickname “Wild Child.” I was told that my skin was “too dark.” None of the boys liked me--at least, none of the ones I liked. Girls would tell me that I was ugly and socially terrorize me. I felt invisible most times and prayed to be invisible when I wasn’t.

My world was upside down. Yes, life could have been worse, but to a child that isyour world.

My mother saw that I was hurting and she did all that she could to show me that there was more out there for me. She never stopped showing me that I had so much to be thankful for.

My mother’s support materialized in various ways and this was important to me, especially when it came to my hair. When I stopped relaxing my hair, she did too. She helped me learn to style it so that I wouldn’t get teased (as much) at school. I remember when she brought home a couple books on styling natural hair and helped me experiment with some new options. I was so excited about my hair that no insults thrown my way could touch me. If I wanted to try some extravagant braid design, she would let me. If I wanted to see how my hair looked when it was pressed, she would help me. If I was curious about color, she would let me try some age-appropriate options. The hair I once hated became a form of self-expression and I loved trying new hairstyles. My mother helped me learn to love my hair despite the naysayers.

I didn’t fully appreciate everything my mother did for me until I got older and I had learned to make more sense of the world. My mother never let me sulk and focus on any negative feelings I had about myself. She helped me identify and cultivate my strengths. She encouraged me to take risks and try new things. She introduced me to the world outside of the one I felt trapped in. She showed me there was more to me than my looks and with time, the less I thought about my looks, the more beautiful I felt. She never let me give up on myself.

There are so many negative influences floating around. So many things telling you that you are not smart enough, pretty enough, popular enough, talented enough. It is important for us to not only stand as pillars of light for one another and teach the next generation that they are worthy of love and happiness. Let them know that they are beautiful. Equip them with the tools to make wise decisions as they mold their future. Make sure that they know their potential is endless. We have to break the cycle.

My mother was and still is my biggest supporter and source of encouragement. She saved me from a world of self-hate and self-pity. I am so blessed to have her and thankful for all that she has taught me. I pray that someday I have a daughter of my own. And I pray that I have the strength and wisdom to love and guide her so that she may learn to love and value herself.


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