July 29th, 2014

Princess Hair


In what should be my last post on my LTYM experience, here’s the essay I read in my performance.

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Princess Hair

by. Jessica F. Hinton

My three-year old and I are just finishing up brushing our teeth for bedtime. I’m staring at my reflection in the mirror in front of us, when I notice that she’s staring at her reflection with an angry look on her face.

She did this in silence. Her lips were pursed and brow was wrinkled, making the curls nearest her forehead hang in her eyes.

Not sure of the gravity of this moment, I watched her like this for a while before asking, very nonchalantly, “What are you looking at?”

She then stares up at me from behind the dark brown curls hanging in her eyes and said, “My hair.”

“What about your hair?” I asked then. And as soon as I hear myself out loud, I already know what she’s going to say.

“I don’t like it,” she said.

I fumbled out some questions then, questions like “Why?” “What do you mean?” And “Why would you say that?”   Then I offered praises. “I love your hair.” “Your curls are beautiful,” I said.

But she didn’t agree. I felt that.  She didn’t like her hair. And when I asked her why, she had an answer.

“Because it’s all poofy and curly,” she said, yanking at a tangle near her ear.

“Mommy, I want princess hair.”

Now, to be clear, I know what princess hair is. But, I assumed she didn’t or that she shouldn’t. So I asked her then, “But what’s princess hair?”

Her response? “Oh, you know. It goes around and around and it’s long.”

“But, I said then, “you do have princess hair because you are a princess, after all.”

She didn’t look amused, so I said, again, what I know to be true.

“Your hair IS beautiful.”

“I love your hair.”

I say these words again and again in different variation until she finally smiles… not a happy kind of smile but the kind that seemed to indicate her desire that I just stop and let her go to sleep.

“It isn’t that serious, mom” I’m sure she would say if she had the words to say it. And it really wasn’t that serious. I mean, plenty of girls want princess hair, right?  I did.

I was six when I got princess hair.

It came in the form of a My Little Pony ponytail. It was straight and brown and really long. The hair was attached to a golden bow. And behind the bow was a clip-on comb that made it possible to discretely wear this fake horse’s mane.

I put it on like a tiara, attaching it to the bush of my real hair in the front and allowing it to hang low against my back.

It swung when I moved. It swung and danced and seemed to sing to me.

I remember shaking it as my mother swept our front porch, oblivious, it seemed, to my first, and, likely, only girlhood moment in glory. A car drove by as I sung 80s pop music and danced on the sidewalk, swinging my hair like I was crazy. The driver in the car just stared. Was she concerned? You know, I do wonder that now, but back then, if you’d ask I’d say “no.” With hair like that, she had to be jealous.

No one ever told me my curls were beautiful or good or even wanted. So, that ponytail was like my chance to be the girl I thought I wasn’t: The one with the beautiful hair everyone else wanted.

I didn’t call it princess hair back then, but it was magical hair and it was something that I considered more beautiful than my own.

I could relate to my three year old in that way, or as a child who wanted something she didn’t have and feeling bad about it.

It didn’t get over this complex until my 20s. It wasn’t until I learned to let go of what I didn’t have and embrace and love what I did, that I could love and see my curls for what they are.

My real hair isn’t straight. It curls with water. It shrinks when it dries and it’s amazingly huge.

It’s not like that fake ponytail I had at six. But it’s my hair. It’s a part of me so I love it. And anything that I love, I have decided, in my head, is wonderful.

My curls…our curls look different than the princess hair of most movies and fairy tales. But when I see our reflections in mirrors or storefront glass windows, I see only beauty in that difference.

We lay in her bed silent that night. I hold her hand. I smile and repeat what the girl with the fake ponytail never heard to be true: You are beautiful. Your curls, like my curls, are beautiful.

Okay?

She softened then, smiled, a real smile, and said, “Okay, mommy.”

She rested her head more firmly on her pillow and began closing her eyes, settling in for sleep.

I stroked her curls, as she lay, believing them to be every bit as beautiful as any princess Disney could ever fathom.

And as she lay, I settled into believing that with time, she’ll settle into believing this, too.

 


July 23rd, 2014

Be who you are


be who you are and say

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”- Dr. Seuss.

While stuck in a car on the way to the beach, I wrote this down–one of my most favorite, Dr.Seuss-attributed, inspirational quotes of all time. Even if we can’t agree on everything, we should be able to say and feel what we feel and say it out loud because what we feel and what we say, ultimately, are who we are. And everyone should have a right that, or everyone should have a right to be who they are and have the chance to be celebrated for that. - Jessica


July 16th, 2014

Matching Outfits


IMG_0732Photographer’s dilemma. Going for prolonged periods without using the new camera you purchased under the professed commitment to “use it everyday.” *sigh. I blame the summer. This one was taken back in May in honor of my oldest daughters’ current love of looking like twins every day. It was uploaded two months later (this morning) along with hundreds of other pictures from our summer, thus far, in honor of a mother’s guilt about leaving pictures on her camera for so long. Never again. :)

Picture taken with Canon Mark II, Canon 50 mm 1.4

Settings: f/3.2 SS:1/125 ISO:1000

 


July 11th, 2014

10 Things About My LTYMDC Reading


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1. My LTYMDC performance is online! Yes, I thought I’d dread the day that my face and voice were readily available on Youtube. But I did not (and do not) dread the experience at all. It’s kind of funny and cool to see myself performing on stage.

2. In reflecting on it more, I think that “mirror” moment described in my piece was less about my daughter and more about me. Even though I alluded to knowing what she thought about princess hair. I realize now that I don’t really know how my then three-year old (who is now four) imagined “princess hair.” I don’t know, beyond it going “around and around” if her princess hair was the same one as the one I imagined in my head. I don’t know, beyond her saying that she didn’t like how her hair looked in the mirror that night, if her princess hair excluded curly possibilities. I don’t know if her princess hair was culturally associative either. It likely wasn’t either of these things. Though, it became these things in my 30 year-old brain.

I felt like I should say this on my daughters’ behalf. I felt like I should say that the meaning of this piece is less about what my daughter thought or didn’t think of her hair. It was really about what I once thought and now think about my own hair. It was about being confronted with those thoughts while in the mirror with my toddler and having to grapple with how my past bears on how I mother my children. Make sense?

3. I read my piece fifth, so I was in the middle of this great show featuring other great women, writers, and storytellers like this and this and this and this and this. Seriously, the whole show was great, so grab some popcorn and watch everybody from start to finish.

4. Yes, I did cut my hair…four months before the show. My hair is naturally curly but when I cut it, on a whim, it was straight. Do you see the possible mistake in that? Yeah, so on the day of my self-inflicted hair cut and in the days after, my hair was sleek and edgy with lots of layers. But then I washed it and my straight hair became curly and, thus, half its size. And with that, suddenly, my hair cut became something else entirely.

I didn’t hate what it had become when curly, though I didn’t really love it either. I think we, or my short hair and I, were just getting acquainted when the LTYM auditions rolled around and we were still in that “almost friendly” stage when the show rolled around months later.

I felt like our relationship got complicated with the pressure I put on myself in thinking (over-thinking) my essay, which is, you know, about hair. (Gulp.) So for my hair in my piece on hair, I needed big! I needed a statement! I needed fierce! I needed…the eight inches of hair I cut off months before!!

But barring a wig or or mega growth vitamins or extensions (which I seriously considered), I couldn’t get my hair back in time. So I had to make do with what my little hair could do.  But that was okay because my piece is really about accepting yourself, all of yourself, because all of yourself is wholly wonderful, right? Yes, it’s that at its core.

love all of who you are

It has to do with hair, yes. It’s about the importance of affirming self-love in little girls (and boys). But the biggest message I hope to pass on is the importance of self-love. You can’t teach your daughters (or sons) to love their hair if you don’t really love your hair.

You can tell them their hair is beautiful, but until they see you loving your beautiful hair, they won’t really believe you.  Children are human beings, right? So I think we…as human beings…we crave authenticity. Authentic loving of yourself must happen to teach your children authentic loving of themselves, hair included. Yes, that’s it! Or that’s what I realized when I walked on stage to perform my piece. So in the end it was wonderful, but before that end, you should know that I had a panic attack.

5. My daughters actually love their hair. This is more of the same as what I spoke of in number two. That moment that I talk about in my piece, the one in the mirror, happened a year ago when my oldest had just turned three. Outside of rehearsing with me in the weeks leading up to my performance, princess hair as something that either of my daughters lacked was (is) old news.

Did they change?Maybe. I know I changed. After that mirror moment, I became authentic and more intentional in talking about hair, my hair and theirs. I became more intentional in broadening their understanding of “princess hair” (innocent parental propaganda) and curly hair. And perhaps that’s what made a difference. Perhaps.

6. My reading of “Princess Hair” has been featured on Curly Nikki!

7. In case you’re wondering, and I’m sure you’re not wondering, the pants I wore in my reading were from J. Crew. Everything else, barring the jewelry, was from Banana Republic.

8. I almost cried towards the end of my performance. That line, “what the girl with the long ponytail never heard to be true. You are beautiful.” Yep, that one gets me every.single.time because it’s sad that any girl should ever think she is anything but the most beautiful girl in the world. That’s tragic. I inflected my voice to a mousey pitch on “okay” to prevent myself from breaking down on stage. Seriously. I’m one of those criers. I go from 1-10, with 10 being hysterical sobs, body quivers, and snorts, really fast. So that inflection? That was me preventing level 10 breakdown, okay?

9. My children didn’t get to see my performance live, but thanks to Youtube they can watch it over and over and over again.

10. I want to be onstage, again. I loved Listen To Your Mother and treasure the experience for pushing me out of my comfort zone and connecting me with amazing women in my area!

p.s. Did you watch my reading? If so, what did you think?


July 4th, 2014

Some Favorite Pins


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I was slow to “take” to Pinterest. I was slow because I think I never really understood it’s value beyond its uses as a social media tool for anyone ordinary or super-ordinary person hoping to attract more attention to the things they find interesting. It can be that, I’ve realized, but it is for me (and I’m sure for many others bloggers, professionals, creative people, human beings) a really valuable personal tool.

For me, Pinterest is my personal tool to catalog, visually, the things that capture my present interests and life. I do, at times, pin things I think others can agree are worth a second look. But, mostly, as in 99% of the time, I am a decidedly selfish pinner. I pin what I want to look at again, use again. I pin patterns and words and foods that I like and want to make an online “space” for in my life. I find that keeping these things, these digital pins, around reminds me of who I want to be, at times, where I want to go, and, mostly, who I am, authentically, right now.

p.s. If you’re interested in seeing more of my recent pins, go here. Happy Fourth to my American readers! And Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim readers! And to everyone, have a wonderful weekend! xo. -Jessica