We do not need fixing

By Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo   |   15 July 2017   |   1:29 am


“I will not get rid of my frizzy hair, thank you very much” wrote Amber Hambrose in Glamour US this week, in defence of “follicles that fray, fluff, and—yes—frizz. “Over the course of a week, I parked myself in the Glamour beauty closet and pored over labels of products tailored for curly hair. For that entire week, I never once left the closet feeling good about myself, confident, or secure with my hair,” Hambrose mused, “I interrogated the labels on dozens and dozens of bottles, reading words and phrases that eventually blurred together in one big insult. “You need fixing,” the bottles told me. Here are just a handful of ways they said it: ‘Anti-frizz!’ ‘Stop!’ ‘Fight!’ ‘Tame!’ ‘Combat!’ ‘Banish!’ ‘Reform!’ ‘Cure!’ ‘Control!’ ‘Unruly!’ ‘Battle!’”

Hambrose’s words made me head over to my beauty cabinet and peruse the product labels; “fix”, “repair”, “rejuvenate”, “revive” became a common theme, not only in relation to hair but every single inch of the female form. It seems there is a product on our shelves or out there on the shelves of a beauty store for any imaginary shortcoming or flaw we have. Wrinkles? Sun spots? Fine lines? Crow’s feet? Sparse eyebrows? Visible pores? Sagging jawline? Droopy boobs? Bingo wings? Stretch marks? Love handles? Orange peel thighs? They are all taken care of with bottles and bottles of lotions and potions that promise to combat, fight, revive, rejuvenate, repair and fix any perceptible flaw – often tiny but magnified under the dissect gaze of any female set on achieving the filtered, flawless look.

When you are almost halfway over the hill as a woman, past insecurities look insignificant. I was recently poring over a photo which showed my side profile. After scanning my face, my gaze followed my most prominent facial feature: my distinctly Middle Eastern nose I have always had a love-hate relationship with. I recall many a restless teenage daydream where I pictured myself with a cute, turned up, button nose. I used to even pull my nose up with a finger just to see how it would look if it was smaller and cuter. This was the mid-nineties, when – thank goodness – plastic surgery was far less affordable, contouring only applied to molding objects, and Instagram was two decades and many social media networks away, Kylie Jenner not even a twinkle in Bruce Jenner’s eyes, so you pretty much made do with what God gave you. Had I grown up in modern times as a millennial, things may have turned out quite differently giving me the turned up nose of teenage dreams.

As I pored over the photo I realised over the years – okay, decades, if I am honest – I had made peace with my nose. What once looked a mountainous monstrosity in the middle of my face now looked aquiline and regal. And of course, my nose wasn’t my only ‘flaw’. There was a time a decade ago I religiously applied fake tan every summer just to look brown, or straightened my hair daily to get sleek, straight locks. Over the years, I noticed, went out the bottles of fake tan, or anti-frizz oil. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a problem with my muffin top and the size of my thighs. The difference is, shy of 40, I no longer obsess over it.

As years go by, if we are lucky enough to have seen the light, as women, we realise what truly matters. The potential of your body to nurture and push out babies trumps a little bit of excess weight, the grace with which you handle yourself in and out of the boardroom matters more than the wrinkles or the grey hair, the strength of a fit body that’s weathered the years and keeps ticking away in good health trumps the six pack or the liquor shelf butt. Or so it should…

This is why it cheers me up to have grown up in a bygone era where our spiritual foundations were just as important – if not more – as our outward appearance. It also scares me the world measured in filters, fillers and the endless quest for flawlessness the new generation of women are growing up in. When anything and anyone from the products on your bath shelf to influencers on your social media are telling us to fight fat, reduce thighs, combat ageing, tame frizz, repair skin, fix anything that is not broken how are we supposed to embrace our flaws? How are we supposed to build the confidence an increasingly tasking world calls for?

In the recent past, we used to question women who were in abusive relationships with men, in a vicious cycle of wanting to fix these broken men and finding out no one can’t. In the near future, we will find girls and women in abusive relationships not because they have been fed the ultimate lie that they can fix someone broken but that they should fix everything about themselves that is not. Imagine the lack of self-esteem that constant need of fix creates, the depth of the whole we are forcing young women to try and fill with the wrong choices, wrong men and wrong relationships because they are led to believe they are something broken, damaged, imperfect, flawed.

If I could say just one thing to young women crumbling under the pressure to fit, to fix, to fill voids where there are none: You don’t need fixing, you’re flawless just as you are.




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