a freckled Rachel

It’s a cliche phrase, I know, but I really have always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. It’s thick. It’s healthy. It’s an intriguing color. These are all reasons to love it. But some of the very reasons I love it, make it unlovable too. My thick hair isn’t perfect and beautiful, like in those Pantene commercials. It’s bulky, unruly, and even gives me head and neck aches when it gets too long.

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On top of all that, my hair has the weirdest texture. I’m not being overly self-critical when I say this. It’s something I actually never realized until my early 20s when people started reaching out and touching my hair and exclaiming over it. A friend’s mom was overjoyed when she met me. It wasn’t because she was thrilled by my personality. Within minutes of meeting her, I found out that she’d just never known anyone with hair like hers. She’d finally found company for her misery. So what is this weird texture we shared? Imagine having curly hair without the curls. We get the crazy texture and body without actually getting those lovely curls to compensate. In fact, my hair hates to curl. It persists in having a life of its own.

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I try to make this drawback into an asset by channeling Brigitte Bardot. Oftentimes, this strategy works. Oftentimes, it doesn’t. Instead, my hair rebels and decides it prefers to be flat and lifeless. On those days, I try to channel some classy 60s lady with smooth hair and sweet barrettes. That strategy works until days like today when my hair refuses to do anything but exist in a realm all its own where good taste doesn’t even exist.

My love/hate relationship partnered with the humidity here in Taipei prompted me to chop off my locks last November. Now, I’m ready to grow them out again. I have a massive board on Pinterest filled with hair inspiration, and I’ve noticed something interesting. There are two extremes on my board. I have wild and crazy Farrah Fawcett looks alongside coiffed and classy Grace Kelly types. How, I wonder, can these two different icons exist in my one core style?

Perhaps it’s the contrariness of my hair that’s caused this disparity. I’ve adapted to its unique needs and developed a bit of style-schizophrenia. I’m more incline to think, though, that it’s just part and parcel of me being me. I used to joke that I had multiple psychotic personalities. My husband graciously prefers to call me prismatic. There are days when I’m calm, bookish, and quiet. There are other days when I’d rather run barefoot through the woods and throw caution to the wind. My style reflects this. Sometimes I’m a proper lady with perfectly coiffed hair and a classy outfit. Other days, I’m wild in my long dresses, unkempt hair, and bare feet. Which one of those looks reflects my personality? They both do.

Perhaps it seems shallow for an English grad with a passion for literature, writing, and the fine arts to wax eloquent about personal style when there are so many other important philosophies to discuss. Maybe it is, but it’s an interest I don’t see ending anytime soon. I believe that, if you let it, your personal style really can reflect you. I also believe that tailoring your personal style to fit a mold such as hipster, normcore, or whatever other movement is trendy, is silly. I think most of us have contradictory elements in our personal style. Following them rather than fighting them is what give us a unique flair.

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When we were first dating, my husband decided to define my personal style. This might sound like a weird thing for new couples to do, but you have to understand that in the area where we lived, the style was largely mainstream and trendy, and I stood out. It took him some time but he decided that, while there might not always seem to be an underlying theme to what I wore, it all worked together for a simple reason–I was the theme.

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Be the theme of your own wardrobe. Be contradictory when the mood strikes. Wear what reflects you, just don’t make contradiction the new trendy. Putting together odd styles just because someone told you it exudes individualism isn’t cool or even original. It’s just plain silly. But more on that some other time. For now . . .


Rachel Kaye

Rachel Kaye Estelle