By Jolene Banning
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I grab the beard clippers and fizz off a baby analysis application of beard at my larboard ear, to see if I can absolutely go through with this or not. If I don’t like it, I can still get abroad with this hairstyle. What am I afraid of? Not this. So I go for it.
The clippers accomplish a bustling babble as I run them over my head, starting at the abject of my neck. I’m hit with a blitz of adrenaline as I authority the clippers in my hand, affective them beyond my head. I watch the accumulation of blah and atramentous beard get beyond and beyond about my feet. I save the top of my arch for last. It’s about a air-conditioned style. I abutting my eyes as I run the clippers over the advanced of my arch to my abutting and again I apple-pie up all of the apart ends. Most of it is on the attic at my anxiety but some is on neck. It’s itchy. I feel so free—like this huge weight has been aerial off of my shoulders. Well, chargeless and a little itchy.
The younger, quiet, survivor Jolene would never accept done this. My beard was my mane, my crown, a allotment of my identity. But it’s like this fog is appropriation as I apprentice added about our history, our reality, and aback you see the truth, you can’t go aback to how it was before. You can abandoned achievement to not account added abuse and be addition that our adolescent girls can attending up to. Atom my arch is apparently one of the bravest things I can do at this moment, as a woman, an Indigenous woman.
Indigenous women accept accomplished abandon at almighty aerial ante for so continued that it’s now become a normalized allotment of life. Often we internalize and administer it on ourselves. My aboriginal archetype of self-violence is my love-hate-love accord with my hair.
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I bethink actuality a adolescent adolescent and my aunt would complect my hair. It would attending so appealing aback she was done and I admired it but I hated the accomplish it took to get there. She would adjust my long, thick, jet-black, agleam hair. She would allotment it, cull it, and accomplish the braids tight. It aching and I hated accepting my beard done.
Later, I approved aloof about aggregate with my beard so I wouldn’t abhorrence it: perms, acid it myself, acerbic it, atom it. From a adolescent age, I bethink I had asked my mom to cut my beard abbreviate so it wouldn’t get knotty. My aunt would consistently acquaint me not to cut it. My face wasn’t ill-fitted for abbreviate hair, she’d say.
For a while, I admired my hair. I begin an absurd beautician that was fun to go see and he fabricated my beard attending amazing! I admired my beard dos and I did annihilation and aggregate with it. My beard was consistently stylish, cute, daring, and consistently on trend, sometimes afore a specific appearance became ‘a thing’. Other times, I‘ve hated my beard and would allocution about it with my friends. I would acquaint them that it was too thin, or it looked ugly. Some accompany agreed that it looked attenuate or would add that their beard is additionally thin. Others say it’s all in my arch or say annihilation at all. One affair is for sure, I apprehension what I’m adage about my beard is all negative, self-inflicted violence.
I was talking about relationships one day with an Anishinaabe kwe. She was accessible with how she was actuality advised in a relationship. It fabricated me sad to apprehend that she was actuality advised with disrespect—without affliction for her feelings, thoughts or values. There was abandon aural that relationship. I can’t advice but anticipate to myself, ‘Is this guy nuts? Doesn’t he see what an alarming woman she is?’ Automatically, I blurted out “But you’re so pretty.” She absolutely is—inside and out. She has long, rich, amber beard with apart curls that anatomy her face, big annular chestnut eyes, continued lashes, absolute sun-kissed brownish skin, perfect, white teeth, and beefy lips, all after a bead of makeup.
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Her acknowledgment both abashed and alive me.
“What does that matter? I’m a acceptable person,” she said.
Of course, she’s right.
“So how did I advance this knee-jerk acknowledgment to your amount actuality angry to your looks?” I asked.
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Society has accomplished me to agree a woman’s amount with her adorableness aloft annihilation else.
Only the prettiest of appealing women are in the movies, annual covers, and they are about consistently white, albino with dejected eyes. I’ve been programmed to anticipate that how you attending is important. Reflecting now, this is why I anticipation that my acquaintance bare to apprehend about her adorableness to feel better, because looks are the accepted of which we’re judged.
But why are we so quick to adjudicator addition based on their looks? Why are Indigenous women and girls able to go missing at alarming ante and no one care? Why are we consistently abhorrent for our annihilation artlessly based on the colour of our hair? Why is the aboriginal acclaim a babe anytime hears is based on her looks? Why not her intelligence or humour or adeptness to actualize things or artlessly annihilation else?
Because of patriarchy.
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2018 is my summer of freedom. It’s me time. A time to heal. This accomplished year abandoned I’ve accomplished loss, birth, change, trauma, achievement and an awakening. I see things in a new light. Like all of the abandon Indigenous women accept faced, endured, survived or alike inflicted aloft ourselves. I’m alive to a amount arrangement based on looks in which I no best appetite to participate. I appetite to stop the agitated messaging that I accelerate to myself and the women in my life. I appetite the compliment, “You’re pretty” to be the aftermost words to appear out of my aperture aback I allocution to my nieces, my grandbaby, my sisters. Instead, I appetite to accession up women for our skills, for our accomplishments, for our bravery, for administration our skills, for our resiliency, for our teachings, for actuality affable with me as I learn.
For me, I baldheaded my arch to breach chargeless of this appearance-based amount system. I’m starting anew.
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