Embracing Natural Beauty in a Culture of Straight Hair and Selfie Wars

In a society where everyone wants to be a copy of the next Instagram model, loving yourself and being confident in your unique beauty is considered bold and rebellious.  We are constantly bombarded by images of “bad b*tches,” from Kylie Jenner and Nicki Minaj to their countless lookalikes.


The line between reality and the images we see on social media has become very blurred. Images have a powerful effect on us, so much they can fundamentally influence our perspective on how we live life. And unfortunately, these snaps and pics aren’t promoting individual beauty. In fact, in many cases ordinary looks are mocked for not fitting the general standards.


The problem with trying to copy these images is that they aren’t even real. Just ask these celebrities how they’ve modified to their bodies – you’d be surprised what a few million dollars can do for you. Anyway, who really wakes up looking like a Kardashian or with hair like Beyonce? Let’s be honest: we’ve bought into a complete fantasy.


I remember a “me versus you” trend that hit social media a while back, in which girls compared selfies and often ended up bashing one another. It was sad to witness. We are no longer being encouraged to love our own features. We’ve forgotten that someone else’s beauty in no way takes away from ours. In fact, our beauty can never be compared with someone else’s.


This pressure to conform to a one-size-fits-all standard of perfection (determined by someone who doesn’t have the power to create a single human being yet somehow they get to determine the standard of beauty) isn’t just ridiculous. It’s boring, too. Imagine a world where every woman had to have the exact same hair (probably straight and long), or contorted their bodies to fit one uniform body type. This is the kind of vain, ludicrous thinking we’ve unconsciously accepted.


Conformity to our culture’s beauty standards hurts not just our souls, but also our wallets. Honestly, the amount of money I’ve spent on hair within the last two years just to conform to societal pressure is probably enough to purchase a car. To be more specific, I used to spend at least $120 every other month to do my hair, which I could have used as an investment instead. But no, I was worried about impressing other people I didn’t even know and who probably didn’t even particularly like me.


Now, who is really profiting off our desires and insecurities? Of course, it’s the beauty industry. If you think about it, we are up against an entire marketing team who wants us to stay ignorant of what it means to love ourselves from the inside-out and convinced we need them. Millions of dollars are spent trying to convince you why this product will make you grow 10 inches of hair overnight or make you lose weight or even make you lighter-skinned.


I love to celebrate women who take care of their body naturally, not with quick-fix products, by pursuing physical and mental wellbeing. I also acknowledge my own natural beauty by choosing to wear my hair in all its glorious kinks. Sometimes it’s frustrating to leave my hair in its natural tight curliness – and let me tell you, I’ve lost count of how many curious looks I’ve attracted because my hair doesn’t fit the European standard of beauty. As someone who struggles with self-confidence and self-doubt, choosing to step out my front door with afro-textured hair, which stands out in the sea of straight hair around me, takes some extra courage and strength.


I had to accept my afro hair and choose not to care whether I looked “less” beautiful in the eyes of certain people, especially the opposite gender. If my hair or physical appearance is all that’s attracting a guy to me, then he’s probably not the right guy for me.


Being rebellious in our culture means choosing to view things differently by loving ourselves for who we are and, most importantly, being comfortable with ourselves first. Yes, it takes boldness, and sometimes ridicule, and it’s not always easy since we all want to fit in. Remember to surround yourself with positive images. There is nothing wrong with Instagram or social media, but try to control what comes through your feed, and  don’t be afraid to step back for a while if it’s affecting you in a negative way. Above all, there is no one-size-fits-all beauty standard, so be yourself and be good to yourself.

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