This week, I lost my hairbrush. For most people, this would probably be an inconvenience. For me, it’s been downright distressing. For one thing, brushing my hair is a majorly calming stim for me. When all else fails, the tug of boar bristles on my hair will calm me down. Secondly, I am very focused on my looks, and the thought of going out without brushing my hair made me cry. But I braved this fear and went out, getting a great deal of comments on my hair. Not the kind I was anticipating though. I had people say, “Oh Leah, your hair looks lovely!” and “Did you get a haircut?”
Huh? How could anybody say that about the ugly rat’s nest on my head? It wasn’t a haircut, it was a perfect storm of terrible, messy curly knots. Didn’t people get that?
Now tonight, I contemplated it further. When I was a child, my mother never let me leave the house without brushing my hair. I was repeatedly told that my hair in its natural messy state was ugly, dirty, nasty, and needed to be brushed. It appears that as an adult, I have continued to internalize this poisonous attitude, even when people who have never before seen my hair un-brushed tell me it’s pretty. I manifested anxiety about my mother’s criticism of my appearance into my hair, and had to have it perfectly coiffed to not feel anxious.
This realization is liberating.