Tress Stress – Pt. III (or “When you want what you don’t have”)

en·vy
/ˈenvē/
 noun
1. the feeling of wanting to have what someone else has.
2. someone or something that causes envy.

 

verb
1. to feel a desire to have what someone else has : to feel envy because of (someone or something).

hair envy
noun
1. the feeling of wanting to have hair like someone else.

 

We always want what we don’t have

Lavinia Lahrese

My fellow lawyer (and YouTube vlogger) Lavinia Lahrese and her beautiful fine natural hair! Check out her channel: www.youtube.com/lavinialahrese

Last week, I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine about Black hair, and she started sharing her experiences with tress stress with me, as a fellow naturalista:

My hair’s so thin! I wish it were thicker, like yours!

I wish my hair was longer! 

When I do my wash-and-go, it doesn’t look like yours!

I think my workmate has beautiful hair- a mane to be envied, even (pictured to the right)! In fact, her hair reminds me of my sister’s: it’s very fine; more curly than it is coily; and it has quite a bit of length too!  Ironically, while both of these ladies have expressed their frustrations to me about their fine natural hair, when I was younger, I remember having my own issues with hair envy- wishing that my hair was more like theirs because nobody ever really wanted to comb mine!

 

Why? Because I had (and still do have) a lot of hair.  They used to call me “Bush-Head”, actually, because it was so big.  And not only did (do) I have a lot of hair, in terms of density, but it’s also thick! My sister’s hair, on the other hand, was easier to manage- even when it got wet- and therefore was not a hassle.

 

Wash Day

Wash Day when I, “Bush-Head”, was a toddler (not much has changed since then!)

My sister, Sarah, in SK

My sister, Sarah, in SK

 

Sadly, hair envy is not uncommon. Whether due to external and/or internal influences, we always seem to want what we don’t have: people with curly hair wish they had straight hair; those with straight hair wish it was curly; people with thin hair wish it was thick; and those with thick hair wish it was thinner!

Over the years,  however, I’ve learned that it really doesn’t pay to envy what other people have– whether that’s hair or anything else, for that matter- because:

(a) It doesn’t change what you have, and

(b) It distracts you from recognizing and valuing what you do have!

All envying really does is cause you unnecessary grief!

The answer to hair envy is hair contentment: you have to get to the place where you are content with what you’ve been given!

 

So, when my workmate asked me, “how are you so comfortable now with your natural hair?”, I told her exactly that: “you just have to accept what you have, and then make the most of it!”

Big hair don't care

Accepting what’s mine, and making the most of it!

Overcoming hair envy with hair contentment

Having grown up natural, and dealing with my own experience with hair envy as a child, I get it: it’s hard sometimes to be content with what you have, when everything and everyone seems to be saying to you that your hair isn’t good enough!  

But if you want to reduce the type of stress caused by hair envy, and thus be happy with your own tresses, two things need to happen.  You need to recognize and accept that:
(a) Our hair, African hair, is uniquely ours; and
(b) Your hair, as an individual, is uniquely yours.

 

Uniquely Ours

African/textured hair is uniquely ours: no one has hair like we do!  So instead of focusing on what it supposedly can’t do, focus on what it CAN do– it’s all about perspective!

 

  • Our hair, in its purely natural state, supposedly CAN’T “move” or blow in the wind, BUT our hair CAN stay in place when you style it. (PS- in case you didn’t know, our hair CAN “move”, both when it’s curly or straightened, depending on how you manipulate it.)
  • Our hair supposedly CAN’T lie flat and it’s too frizzy, BUT our hair CAN be shaped and defined, often without the help of any implements. (PS- our hair CAN lie flat and smooth when it’s stretched or straightened, both with/without the help of gel or styling cream.)
  • Our hair supposedly CAN’T get to waist length at the drop of a dime, BUT our hair CAN go from short to long instantaneously- hello, shrinkage! (PS- our hair CAN get to waist length too, with the right amount of care.)
  • Our hair supposedly CAN’T be “managed” because it’s too tangly, BUT our hair CAN keep braids, rolls, and buns, etc without much assistance, for that very same reason! (PS- our hair CAN be “managed” using the right combs and detangling brushes, some water in a spray bottle, and/or a good moisturizer/conditioner to add some slip!)
Uniquely Yours
It’s also important to remember that your hair, as an individual, is uniquely yours! No one has hair exactly like YOU do! As I mentioned earlier, even my sister and I don’t have the same type of hair; and though your mane may be similar to someone else’s (like Sarah’s is to Lavinia’s), nobody’s is exactly like yours! That should make you excited because what it means is that there is at least one specific thing that your tresses can do that no one else’s can; and once you discover what that thing is, you should embrace it and celebrate it!

Sarah & Me

Sarah and me, celebrating our uniqueness (PS- nobody can wear a ‘fro like me!)

Do you struggle with hair envy? If not, how have you learned to be content with your tresses?