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What is self-love? The majority of people would predominantly define it as simply, loving yourself. Others may epitomize it as taking a break from the detriments of reality by treating yourself to a spa day or finding such relief through a captivating novel. My form of self-love, however, resides in a set of home-cut hair clippers. That’s right, those manufactured pieces of stainless steel taught me everything I needed to discover about my own personal inner beauty. What I assumed would be a hair story gone wrong, turned out to be amazingly otherworldly.

I remember feeling a cool breeze of air hover over my scalp as the last of my kinky yet awfully damaged coils fell onto my kitchen floor; my hair was no more. As I stared into a void of sorrow, I wondered if I could take it all back; that perhaps I just simply imagined it all and would soon awaken from such a horrid slumber. Unfortunately, I wasn’t asleep and even if I were, I’d shame myself for counting sheep while hairless. Between me and those hair clippers, there was absolutely no way that I could reassemble the deed that had been inflicted. That day, I made the bold and hasty decision of shaving my entire head—a decision in which I was slightly beginning to regret.

For the first couple of days, I shielded myself with silk bonnets, hats, and voluminous wigs from various beauty supply stores. I carried the false notion of hiding my hair from the world so that the world wouldn’t have to worry about hiding from it. I made it an indefinite routine to dodge the bald jokes incited by my friends and even the random urges of people wanting to rub my head like a crystal ball; yeah, yeah go ahead and laugh, but it’s the truth! I did everything in my power to avoid being someone else’s circus monkey despite the number of times I’ve been asked to do the tricks—metaphorically speaking of course. I grew hopeless with every passing moment, as did my hair. Whenever I reflected my face off of a mirror, I constantly saw two things: zero progress and Vin Diesel. That was until one day when I decided not to wear a wig.

I had just opened the passenger-side door to my mother’s vehicle when a middle-aged man took a nice gander at my head. At first, I thought this was about to be some awkward encounter but lo and behold, he gave me a thumbs up. Afterward, he slid his hands down the back of his own bald head, indicating that we were indeed “twinning.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the inaudible gesture and I could tell that he was tickled pink behind his own car window as well. It wasn’t long before the man and I parted ways and when we did, I immediately got an epiphany. That eight-second interaction in the parking lot was enough for me to finally realize that you can’t expect others to love and accept you if you don’t love and accept yourself first. That man made me feel joyful because he liked my hair or the lack thereof. Imagine if I liked it just as much as he did. Perhaps even loved it? Gosh, I’d feel glorious.

From that point forward, I vowed to love myself and all of its entirety. I was no longer concerned with the length of my hair or whether or not it would be flowing past my shoulders by the year 2037. Instead, I lived in the moment of both good and bad hair days.

I eventually stopped wearing my wigs around the house and even went to take the trash out to the dumpster across my apartment complex. I know, can you believe it? A whole five feet away from my front door! It may not have been such a huge deal to some people, but it most definitely was to me, given my hairless insecurities at that time. If it was one thing that I taught myself, it’s to own the wig, but never let it own you! I also taught myself how to trust the process of hair growth. In just three months or so, I began to notice prominent changes within my hair. I was under the assumption that it was from my castor oils and such, though it wasn’t. My true enhancement came from my self-love, therefore it reflected on my roots. This entire time, I was the only one getting in the way of my own happiness and growth.

I guess it’s true when they say, “It’s not the enemy, it’s the inner me” and that’s exactly what it was! I thought I lost my beauty when I shaved my head but in reality, I never even lost it, to begin with. Instead, I gained something else along the way, which was the true meaning behind the beauty. It’s not about what you look like on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Remember, even salt looks like sugar until you finally get a taste of the two. With that being said, I would like to end off on this last and final note: I no longer resemble Vin Diesel. I’m currently in the chia pet stage.

Graphic by Autumn Rendall

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