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simplicity & self-acceptance

26 July 2014

I believe there is a crucial connection between simplicity and self-acceptance, for simplicity/minimalism is not just about decluttering physical belongings. It is about facing the mirror head on and questioning our attachment to thoughts and habits. The process demands utmost honesty. If we accept traits about ourselves we can move further towards lightness and not be waylaid by the tugs of consumerism to create an alternate identity.

The desire to simplify my hair routine has arisen often over the past years of pursuing minimalism. But it couldn’t be done without first accepting it in its natural state and it was here that I kept hitting my roadblock. My hair has always been an important aspect of taking pride in my appearance and feeling feminine. From the age of 16-29 it was uncoloured for only a couple of years. I always wanted to cover up the underlying hue of warmth and swung between a few foils to dramatic changes from full brunette to full blonde. Each time I left the hairdresser I felt shiny and bright, but with a nagging uneasiness beneath the surface – the unrealised dream to be satisfied with my natural colour and texture. If I could just get around the next corner of self-acceptance. This is not to say that colouring hair is wrong, but for me this was a yearning to feel beautiful in my own shade. Besides, my mum always told me it was beautiful and mums are always often right about these things! I stopped colouring my hair 4 years ago. I watched it slowly emerge from a shell of artificial colour into its own. Each time more of the old remnants of dye and bleach were cut off I felt closer to my goal of finding out more about me, superficially and internally. As the old feelings of dislike simmered again I changed my self-talk in the mirror, researched what colours would complement it and studied photos of myself with different looks.

The only times I’ve adored my hair all these years was fresh after a blow dry. While I sometimes enjoyed this primping as a form of relaxation, it could also be a chore and weight on my time and spontaneity. I couldn’t get unshackled from the heating instruments at home or in our travels. I experimented for a long time to find what works for me. Dry shampoos irritated my scalp; moose made my hair sticky and using more products was not desirable anyway. I stopped using a hairdryer and straightening iron 5 months ago. Finally, I cracked my formula – a hair cut for my natural texture, a leave-in treatment and air-drying in buns. I travelled to South Africa without any heating tools and did not miss them. (However, when travelling during cold months I will still take a hairdryer to use as needed so as to not get the chills with wet hair.)

At my last appointment the hairdresser was amazed at how healthy it is. And me? I am now in love with my hair. I say that not with ego, but with self-acceptance, with reward for being patient, for letting go of a polished ideal image, and for the relief the simplicity brings me. I literally smile each time I pull my hair out of a bun and let it fall as it wishes.

Ahhh, the freedom and contentment.

Let’s cheer each other on. Is there a way you want to simplify your beauty routine but are held back by a roadblock of self-acceptance?

12 Responses
  1. July 26, 2014

    Great post Lucent, here I am nodding my head in agreement and understanding. How wonderful to have freed yourself from colours, financial outlay and pesky heating tools.

    From around the age of 20-30 I had my hair coloured every month. The end result was lovely but it cost me a fortune and took up heaps of time. I desperately clung to staying youthful blonde!

    Cue, having children. Suddenly I was breastfeeding and a little person needed my constant attention. My husband was very patient but 2 -3 hours at the hairdressers just became unrealistic. I tried to sit there and ‘relax’ but the need to be with my newborn was incredibly stressful. So, I stopped having colours, just like that. I also stopped having my hair washed at my appointments because those precious moments wasted at the washing basin just became incredibly tedious. Fast forward to both my children being a little older. I still don’t colour…the process is just way too tedious. I get a regular cut which is fairly low maintenance and sometimes I have a professional wash.

    Mostly, I am happy with my hair :) Sorry for such a long comment, but in the past this has been a big issue for me, crazy as that sounds.

  2. July 27, 2014

    Lucent, this all sounds very liberating. I wish my hair was more low maintenance and natural; something to plan in over the next few years, I think, as it does require courage, patience and determination. Well done xo

  3. July 27, 2014

    This. I wanted to fall in love with my natural hair too. I stopped coloring it and grew out my bangs. Finally, I did love it, and then in a funny twist, I dyed a streak of it blue in defiance of society’s norms for a conservative, middle-aged woman. So that ended up being a different route than I thought I’d go, but I love it.

  4. July 27, 2014

    ‘…the tugs of consumerism to create an alternate identity’. Well said Lucent to make us aware of this insidious process. After a disastrous perm from a trainee hairdresser cousin when I was 15 (afro, before afro was cool!) I have left my hair strictly alone other than getting a really good cut. Simple.

  5. July 28, 2014

    Smiling here. What a beautiful post about learning to love one’s hair. It has taken me many more years to reach that love. I have struggled with my fine, thin hair all my life, wishing for the thick hair my sisters have, but I do not. Not going to an office has changed all of that. I keep it rather short, otherwise, it starts to break easily. And I gave up trying to make it do things it is not meant to do. And slowly, I have grown to love my hair, just the way it is, messy and fine. Washing and drying take no time at all. And when my 94-year-old mom looks at it, and asks when I’m going to get a perm (she still does not like the fine, thin hair she gave me), I just smile and say Mom, I love my hair just the way it is. (Full disclosure: I do still have it colored, but my stylist and I have a plan for going gray slowly!)

  6. July 28, 2014

    I think you are such a brave woman. You need to be to accept yourself just the way you are. In my case I wish my hair required less maintenance, but since my hair is so oily I need to wash it every two days – i have sometimes tried to spare washing routine but I find I don’t feel confident going out just like that. I also need to straighten my hair because as I have done that since i was 14 i am unable to see myself any other way. Sometimes it is frustrating when traveling, packing all my stuff and invest at least one hour to be ready (mainly for my boyfriend of course) but I still don’t accept myself so there’s no other choice for me. That being said, I wish I had your courage

  7. July 29, 2014

    Earlier in the year after a visit to my hairdresser’s when they had coloured my hair darker than was orginally intended I decided to gradually move back to my natural colour. I have started drying my hair naturally most of the time too! I did also read recently about using baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo. I’m not sure I’m ready to take that step yet!
    Sarah x

  8. July 29, 2014

    That’s a very touching piece, thank you for sharing! My block to self acceptance was both my short height and legs. It took me a long time to peel off the layers of hiding outfits and enveloping clothes until I found a way to accepting my body the way it is. I agree with you that simplicity is a door to these self esteem questions, and opens the long path to restoring self acceptance and confidence. I’m very happy to hear that you love your hair now. Your routine is probably simpler too now that you don’t use that many products, nor hair dryers or straightening irons anymore. I guess it is a win-win :)

  9. July 30, 2014

    Yay for natural hair; I stopped colouring mine a few years ago too, because I didn’t want the extra chemicals…and I LOVE my natural colour now (Mums are definitely right about this). I’ve got a few sneaky greys starting to come through, and I’ve decided to embrace those too – nothing sexier than a confident ‘going-greyer’ I reckon! PS. What’s your leave in treatment? I stopped using conditioner, but a leave in treatment occasionally would be nice! x

  10. Megan permalink
    July 30, 2014

    Lucent you have struck a chord with this post about self-acceptance of one’s appearance and the link to simplicity – and how very wise you are to be coming to this decision at your age. The fact that you are so happy now and have healthier hair is indeed a wonderful reward.
    Despite the fact that most people try to present themselves well and appear attractive to others, it’s the “tug of consumerism to create an alternate identity” (as you so brilliantly put it!) that has encouraged so many of us to spend so much time and money in its pursuit.
    I’ve simplified my hair and makeup routines over the years and have felt better for it but my hair is shoulder length and quite thick so I definitely have to help it dry with a hairdryer in the winter :)

  11. August 2, 2014

    I admire this.

    I’ve been into makeup for a long time now – never foundation (I’ve naturally very clear and even skin), but always lots of blush and eye makeup. Lately, though, I’ve paired it back to just mascara, a little bit of blush, and lippy. I’ll still do a bold lip, but I won’t do the bold eye to go with it. I’m still getting used to it………

  12. August 12, 2014

    Lucent, how funny you should write a post about this. I appreciate your thoughts on the idea of minimalism and going all natural. And i think we discussed that i haven’t done anything with my hair since living in the UK which was well over 8 years ago (except getting it cut) but only about a month ago i got a much shorter cut and a little bit of blonde highlights and it has totally transformed me. I absolutely love my hair now…i don’t know, after having a baby it was lifeless and dull and i really hated it, all i would do was put it up in a high bun. But with the shorter cut – which i admit i actually don’t need to do anything to except blow dry it so i don’t get a chill – and a little bit of color, I’m a new woman. But perhaps it is just the new cut i needed, the color is really just an added bonus.
    P xo

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