Embracing your own version of beauty

We live in a digital age of social media, which has become synonymous with outrage. Almost every day there is a fresh uproar of offence taken to young tennis players, advertisements for cuts of meat or some idiot politician’s views on lettuce.  What happened to stupid cat memes and videos like Beached Az? When did everyone get so serious?

Normally I would scoff and roll my eyes at whatever PC crap is being dished up in the social media stratosphere. Until one morning the name Beth Minardi came up in my feed and I was genuinely outraged by this woman’s comment.

If like me, you have zero clue who Beth Minardi is, she is a self-proclaimed Industry Icon. She is an American hairdresser to the stars that specialises in hair colour.

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Image from Beth Minardi’s website https://minardicolor.com/

With over 30 years of experience and quite the social media following, I was pretty taken aback by this comment on her Facebook page:

“…. Just thinking about this and wonder if you feel the same…. I watch these natural curly clients asking to “natural dry” their hair by sitting under a roller ball (they probably don’t want to pay for a proper styling)….. Or, they are under the dillusion that their “wool” looks attractive when allowed to dry without correct finishing. SORRY! They look HORRIBLE. And their hair is a MESS! Maybe when they were 16 and had thick, luscious natural waves down to their waist.. things were different. If ONLY they would allow us to roller set their hair in order for the curl to take on a lovely shape…. The colour they just paid for would look FABULOUS! Hey, a group of these women who see things differently from the way the rest of us see them, come in wearing FABULOUS outfits, bags, shoes…. And are NOT poor. So, money really isn’t an issue. They choose to leave looking like an egg beater got into their hair. Thank God these women are in the minority.. but I am so sad to see that in 9 ½ cases out of 10, they leave the salon looking like a big MESS! Agree? B” – Beth Minardi.

The spelling and grammar alone is enough to cause widespread outrage. (Dillusion? Seriously?) I had another look at what this woman had to say and that was when the proper outrage set in.

This post has crossed so many lines of wrong, bordering on racist. So I dug a little deeper before casting judgement on this lady to see what she is all about. Turns out, my initial assessment was pretty much bang on. She feels that, given her position, she is an authority on what is perceived as fabulous or beautiful for all women. Because women don’t have enough pressures on how to look physically, adhering to a certain body weight, wearing certain clothes, we also have to have our hair worn in a certain way. You know, so it doesn’t look like “wool”.

I’m a second-generation immigrant, born to Egyptian parents, and grew up in suburban Sydney in the 80s. I’ll spare you the sob story. It’s such a common story of identity crisis, not having a place in the world and so on. It’s been told far more eloquently than I could give it justice many times.

The point is, I was bullied by a bunch of blonde haired, blue eyed “Aussie” girls that liked to point out all my differences with a look of total disgust on their faces.

That led to years of self-loathing and some pretty massive self-esteem issues. I couldn’t do anything about the “dirty coloured skin” as they called it, but I could change my “Brillo steel hair” (these girls were so clever). So I did. I started chemically straightening my hair at the ripe age of 10.

Somewhere in my late 20s, I started to catch on to this idea that I didn’t have to be like everyone else and that was okay. I embraced my differences and celebrated my quirks. I was starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. Or at least I thought I did.

I was 33 when I had my beautiful girl. She changed my whole world. When she was about nine months old, she started sprouting the most luscious curls. That was when it hit me. I was still pretending to be someone else. There was still a part of me that wanted to fit this idea of what “beautiful” is perceived to be.

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So I did what any normal person would do. I cut my very long, chemically straightened hair off to start again. I had no idea what it would look like. It didn’t matter. What did matter was what my little girl grew up to believe.

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I want my daughter to know that just because some self-important hairdresser thinks that her natural wool hair looks messy when left in its natural state, the opinion of women like that doesn’t define her self worth.

Personally, I would rather my child see beauty in others that goes beyond a person’s shoes and matching expensive bag. I want my kid to look at someone who looks different to her and become curious about his or her world. I want her to accept that people’s differences are what make them special. More importantly, I want her to know the correct spelling of the word “delusion”.

Each and every one of us is gorgeous in our own right and we need to be empowered by other women, not shamed. My natural hair journey has been an awakening of a new-found confidence and I am damn proud of my wool. The more out of control my hair is, the happier I am that I stand out from the crowd.

It’s not messy, it’s fierce!

Women have enough to contend with in this world without having to make it harder for other women.

Have you struggled to fit society’s perception of “beauty”? How did you work through it?

Written By

Suzi is a stay at home writer/editor/homemaker and maker of humans. After years in the debaucherous media industry, she never dreamed of a domesticated life caring for small people. She is also editorial director of parentingfortrashbags.com

6 Comments

  • I know this isn’t the point of your post, but your natural hair looks amazing!
    I agree – we all have a different version of beauty that shines brightly when we’re embracing who we are and not just trying to fit some unattainable mould.
    I am Asian by appearance and I used to think I wasn’t as pretty as a ‘regular’ Aussie girl, just because of my race and a couple of casual comments I heard when I was young. I mean, there was apparently ‘pretty for an Asian’ and then there was the real pretty – the white girls had that.
    Luckily, I left school and broadened my horizons and realised that it was BS (even if a lot of people still believe that crap). I was SO much happier when I stopped buying into that notion. Suddenly, I came into my own and realised it was only me holding myself back because I believed the few ignorant people (some who were only children at the time too).

  • Thanks so much Kez. It can be hard to let go of some of the nasty stuff said about you. Especially when you’re so young. But when you do learn to be yourself and be happy with that, oh so liberating!!

  • Great piece Suzie. I struggled for years with various “diets” trying to conform to a norm. Basically resulted in eating apples and cup-of-soups for 10 years. I have embraced a healthier version of me and my two girls inspire and motivate me to embrace it every day. Here’s to raising self-loving and fierce women! X

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