How to Look Like Me
I wrote discounting my own, my mother's and grandmothers’ beauty all in one line. I slid my fingers down my timeline knowing she wouldn’t comment back – she never does. Oh well I don’t say nice things to be recognized, I say it because I mean it. Fifteen minutes later and I’d seen all I needed to: my woman crush put up a new selfie, my style crush got these amazing new shoes, my hair crush is having another amazing hair day, my hair twin did an up-do that I straight goods can’t do. I put my phone down on my night stand noting that I had spent ten more minutes than I probably should have on my damn device rather than in my damn bathroom getting ready for hella damned school. The bathroom floor is freezing, I wince and flick on the light then catch myself on the sink in horror: my hair is everywhere- my silk scarf must have come off in my sleep again, my skin has broken out on my forehead and I’m not even gonna start on how yesterday’s 10 p.m. binge is now hanging ten all over my waistline. With my nose inches from the mirror I close my eyes and try to pictures those pictures – a life where I could be perfect and the entire world would nod their heads along in agreement.
A few days ago I was at my friend’s house scrolling through her Instagram feed – I don’t know if anybody else does this with their friends but it’s become the equivalent of magazines at the doctor’s office for me – and I realized that 90% of the people she followed were other women, gorgeous women with mostly curly hair at that. I asked her why that was and she said it gave her hair/ beauty inspiration. I thought about that: is it not totally reasonable to immerse yourself in your passion by surrounding yourself with relevant imagery? Or have we surpassed the days of damage done through mass-magazine consumption with our new-age obsession over “everyday” people?
When on my own feed it is not unlikely for me to catch a “I wish I looked like you” comment underneath some beautiful woman’s photo (as yes, I too follow many) I think I would lean towards the ladder. I also believe what makes idolizing regular people’s imagery so problematic is that we compare them to ourselves with a lot more weight. These individuals did not have a hair and makeup team on hand before they snapped that “good morning, no filter” selfie. Nor did they have a master photographer/ photo retoucher manipulating the imperfections in post (though a lot can be said for a strong window light on a cheap camera coupled with several carefully chosen app edits). So if a woman has the same tools as us, same resources, in some cases same hair, then what’s our excuse for not measuring up?
When I was in my formidable years I pretty much bought every Sophisticate’s Black Hair Magazine I could find and through all my consuming I remember this one picture of this woman with perfectly spiraled, non-frizzy curls that I ripped out and put on my mirror – my first hair crush I guess. After giving the instructions in the two-lined write up a go a few more than a few times I improvised on my own. My style sheet? I soaked my hair in gel or mousse then wrapped it around a small barrel like a pencil and blow dried it until it hardened. Of course this process would take forever on thick hair so I just put my hair in a bun and did select pieces around my face so I looked like a house with icicle lights on it.
Eventually I brought that image to my hair dresser and she explained the world of straw set to me and furthermore how my length at the time and texture would not yield the same results. We had a lovely conversation about the difference between admiring others and imitating them. From that day forward I have admired many women’s hair and taken notes but I do my best not to expect to wake up looking like them, since in reality I don’t really even know what they actually look like underneath it all.
So now we go back to the story at the top, a story that I made up but truly believe through my many visits to girl’s groups/ high schools as well as my own observations online, is a common one. This culture of hair crushes, girl crushes, hair twins, etc… may be causing more damage than good. I often think about the women, the ever increasing amount of women, who create entire accounts strictly dedicated to highlighting others’ good hair days – but behind the good intention does that woman love her own beauty? How many of us have the discernment necessary to understand the difference between praising others without putting down ourselves? And if you yourself don’t have a clear answer to that question, perhaps it’s better to turn off that screen and pick up that looking glass.
Written By Shannon T. Boodram
Shannon Boodram is an award-winning TV personality, wedding photographer and writer. You may recognize her from her YouTube channel Those Girls Are Wild. You can catch more of Shannon on YouTube, Twitter or Instagram.