Hair stories that might finally convince you to cut it short(er) or color it purple-blue
My personal hair story took years in the making. Coloring my hair for the very first time, in my teenage years, with a generic DIY-at-home box felt like a rite of passage to womanhood. In college, my hair thinned out profusely because of stress and fatigue to the point that I needed medical assistance. This took a toll on my self-esteem. All my life, my thick and lush locks were subject of praise. Taking away what seemed, at the time, to be my crowning glory was inevitable. I had to chop my frail and flimsy hair, which eventually led to my most daring hairstyle: a shaved pixie cut—ala Stella Maxwell circa 2012. It was terrifying but liberating.
Recalling all these hair changes—#10YearChallenge, anyone?—through the years validates just how big of a role my hair plays in my day to day. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. At present, I’m sticking to a straight, medium-length bob highlighting my jet black hair—classic, yet adventurous—and I’ve never felt more like myself.
To celebrate International Women’s Month, Dove Philippines created an empowering campaign honoring fearless women and their hair stories—and they did it right. From their social media campaign materials, you see a photo of a fair-skinned chinita with a pink pixie cut with two options: Like for “Crazy Teenager,” heart for “Mom of 3” and a morena with silky straight ombré blonde hair: Like for “Beach Bum,” heart for “Aspiring Lawyer.” This proves that there are still stereotypes and misconceptions tied to a woman’s choice of hair style—but why?
Last March 8, International Women’s Day, Dove showcased the My Hair, My Say Gallery featuring 14 portraits of confident women with diverse hair stories at Greenbelt 5, Makati. The event included a panel discussion with awe-inspiring women with unconventional hair styles and stories.
Beauty content creator, plus-size model and actress, Teena Arches, shared how experimenting with her hair became a means of self-expression through the years in such a conventional landscape. She stood out with her two-toned blue and purple hair in a sea of blacks and browns.
“They say my hair is too distracting. I say it’s captivating. Dapat daw dalagang Pilipina (when) I really express with style, binabawi ko sa hair and makeup.” She recently launched her advocacy, Maganda Ako Period., featuring limited edition, custom-made merchandise to empower women of all sizes to love their body.
Student, Darla Mamuyac, who fashioned a bold pixie cut, recounted her experience in the province of going bald—a “non-conformist” move. A guy she dated cut off ties with her simply because of her personal choice. She shares:
“I grew up in the province. If you do something different, people talk about it. They feel like they should have a say on how I should look. I got to know who I am when I explored different styles. We grow and change all the time; we can’t be put in a box. I want to be masculine, sometimes feminine. People aren’t always one thing, we change.”
With vibrant strawberry-and-cream locks worthy of attention, business director and corporate executive, Michelle Castillo, shared her plight as a woman of stature. “In the corporate industry, there’s a certain level of professionalism to exude. To look professional, we have to stick to a mold (or) people won’t take your seriously.”
Because she refused to blend in, she remembered being summoned by her superior and being told she had potential, was intelligent, but she should tone it down because it was “too much.” She said, “We should be measured by our performance, our actions and not our looks. You could look the part but if you’re not doing the work, it’s pointless. You are your most beautiful when you’re being yourself.”
It’s 2019, and there are still pressures being laid down on us women to conform to “idealistic” standards of beauty. But who really gets to say what’s beautiful? We all do. Beauty is so personal, and we should have the liberty to keep reinventing and rediscovering ourselves—whether it’s in the way we dress, do our makeup or keep our hair. It should not be determined by other people’s opinions and prejudice. After all, beauty should be a source of confidence, not anxiety.
Photo and Words Elisa Aquino
Art Alexandra Lara