Woman power!

The are no more cookie cut­ter beauty ideals. You’re beau­ti­ful the way you are! These women prove it.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents -

Ex­press your fab­u­lous self

for so long I sort of for­got that my hair was nat­u­rally curly. When I was young, I used to brush it out re­ally big for laughs, but at a cer­tain point I started do­ing stuff to it so it didn’t look like a joke.

I wanted to have straight hair like Jen­nifer Love He­witt in Can’t Hardly Wait – that’s what I wanted my hair to look like. In 2010 I went on a trip to Thai­land with my best friend. We were in the ocean all day, and I felt so sad from just los­ing my job that I didn’t want to look at my­self or do any­thing, and so I just didn’t touch my hair at all. When we came back to the ho­tel at night, I looked in the mir­ror and my hair was this giant big mass of curls; I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘I can’t be­lieve that I have only ever thought of my nat­u­ral state as some­thing to use as a joke rather than some­thing to be cel­e­brated.’ For­ever I had tried to tame the things that ended up be­ing my great­est pow­ers. That’s the main thing I’ve prob­a­bly learned in my adult­hood: my self in my most nat­u­ral form is my se­cret weapon. It’s my war­rior garb.

But I’d be ly­ing if I said I al­ways feel con­fi­dent, I don’t. There are times I feel so out of con­trol that I try to coun­ter­act it with a per­sonal style that is much more pared down, like when I straighten my hair. It feels nice to show re­straint. At the same time, straight hair feels like a funny joke be­cause I know my in­sides are all curlicues and doo­dads. It’s not an ef­fort to erase my­self; it’s more like the hair equiv­a­lent of dress­ing up. You know it can’t last for­ever, and when it gets wet you’re go­ing to be a poo­dle again.

And then there are times, like right now for the most part, when I’m in a po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment that feels ag­gres­sive – that’s when I usu­ally want to be my most en­er­getic and vi­brant self. In gen­eral, I feel that many women are pushed to make them­selves smaller and be the most min­i­mal ver­sion of them­selves. So I’ve been wear­ing my hair nat­u­rally curly, and now I’m start­ing to brush it out so it takes up as much phys­i­cal space as pos­si­ble – but this time not as a joke. For me, beauty is about whole­ness, and I’m do­ing it all for my­self right now.

I’ve gained back so many hours of life by hav­ing my hair in dreads. And what did I do with that time? I learnt to play gui­tar and banjo. Se­ri­ously: from age five to 18, I wore my hair permed straight, and ev­ery two weeks I had to stop what­ever I was do­ing and sit through this painful, hours-long process of hav­ing my hair chem­i­cally straight­ened. And my hair is re­ally thick – I could break a comb try­ing to get through it – so it took me another hour to style it be­fore leav­ing the house. I was just tired of spend­ing so much ef­fort on it.

I first con­sid­ered dreads be­cause the guy I was dat­ing had them and he showed me how to start mine. I thought, ‘If it doesn’t work, I’ll go back to a perm.’ At first the strands were about 5cm long, stick­ing up all over the place – it took six months for them to ac­tu­ally lock. That was the ugly pe­riod. Each time I washed my hair, I’d sep­a­rate the twists again. But about a year in, I re­ally fell in love with them. That was 16 years ago.

To­day my dreads are very long and I can wear them in dif­fer­ent ways: I use strips of news­pa­per and all kinds of things to cre­ate curls with­out heat. And I leave them down a lot so they don’t get worn out, with holes or breaks (they’re like cloth!).

Once a week I take a long bath and soak, and wash my hair with a clar­i­fy­ing sham­poo. After­ward I’ll put oil on it and sit un­der my bon­net dryer. I look like an alien, but it dries my hair in about 20 min­utes while I’m watch­ing TV. If I’m work­ing on mu­sic or other things around the house, I’ll put in rollers and let my hair air-dry for about six hours.

When I’m per­form­ing, I have to pull up my dreads or they’ll try to play my gui­tar. I’ve had some ex­pe­ri­ences where peo­ple will see me walk­ing with my gui­tar, and they’ll be like, “Oh, you play reg­gae?” And I’ll be like, “No, I don’t. I just play what I feel.” And they’ll laugh and I’ll laugh, and we’ll move on with our lives.

Peo­ple tend to make as­sump­tions about oth­ers based on their looks, but it doesn’t bother me. More than any­thing, I get amaz­ing com­pli­ments, and I love that.

For me, my dreads rep­re­sent all the time I got back by not spend­ing it on my hair. A lot of mu­si­cians be­gin as chil­dren, but I started on my own in my 20s and slowly learnt by just prac­tis­ing 10 min­utes a day. I still teach my­self that way, ex­per­i­ment­ing with a new chord or song with tiny bits of time. Be­fore my dreads, I would’ve spent those mo­ments on my hair. Now I spend them writ­ing and do­ing things that I find way more en­gag­ing.

“When I’m per­form­ing, I have to pull up my dreads or they’ll try to play my gui­tar.”

Is a fan of brushed-up brows and MAC red lip­stick, and the fact that so­cial me­dia has given her – and women of so many sizes and colours – a voice in the fash­ion in­dus­try. Paloma Elsesser Model, 25

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.