It’s been one of those mornings where the birds are tweeting, the sun is shining, and the Maltese humidity is making my Mediterranean hair look like I’ve participated in a spot of bedroom gymnastics with Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt. It was my dismayed wails that brought my sister running to the bathroom to see if I had injured myself and the conversation that followed that moved me to write today’s piece.
Like many Maltese women, my sister has curly hair, however, unlike many Maltese women, she decided to embrace her curls years ago instead of effectively killing them every week at the hairdresser. Of course, this would have been great had it not been for the teenie weenie issue that for reasons unknown, there are precious few hair products available on the local market for those who would rather go au naturel minus the frizz.
It’s pretty bleak when you think about it. In my teenage years, not only were you expected to constantly have sleek, straight hair, but on top of that, you were meant to be blonde. These unrealistic beauty expectations wreaked havoc on the women of my generation because since most Maltese hair is composed of reddish and orange undertones, bad, blonde dye jobs were the order of the day if you were scared of ruining your hair with bleach. After several home and salon-made disasters (one particular one ended up with me looking like an albino zebra), I remember giving up completely and dying over it in black. The once you go black, you never go back expression definitely applied in my case and thank God for that.
It’s a series of sad narratives that we have been fed and they have sadly stuck to the bottom of our shoes like chewing gum if all the blow dries at the beach are to be believed. It’s horrible to even have to write this, but some of my older friends have even told me that they had teachers who called their naturally curly hair dirty because it physically couldn’t sit flatly on their heads. These kinds of comments cause irreparable harm to people’s self-image and they in turn both subconsciously and sometimes consciously pass that message on to their own offspring.
We need to do so much better in the messages we send out into the world, and yes, sometimes that does mean questioning everything that society has taught us is true about ourselves through adverts and insta stories. In a world where you can be anything, give yourself permission to be true to yourself.