Category Archives: Journal

“You look better with straight hair!”

Growing up I absolutely fell in love with chick flick cinema. Chick flicks are films that are aimed at younger women. The protagonist who starts the film as a ‘loser’ or a ‘nerd’ with an aesthetic that consists of the reoccurring curly hair, glasses, and braces and mid show there’s a major makeover montage where the protagonist has straightened their hair, the glasses have been replaced by contacts and braces have been removed and her ‘true’ beauty is revealed.

The Princess Diaries is a perfect example of this, yet it was and still is one of my favourite films. It was an emotional moment for us and rewatching the film I can’t help but feel that it is a reminder of the insecurities I felt at the time. The frizzy hair was no fit for a future princess of Genovia so Mia – played by Anne Hathaway – left her curls which did nothing but invite ridicule behind.

“I take ‘This!’ and ‘This!’ and I give you – a princess.” were the words of Paolo – played by Larry Miller – during Mia’s makeover moment.

So, there are actually a couple of options here; one is straight hair which allows you to climb the social ladder at the expense of damaging your hair, or two keeping the frizz and being labeled a freak or nerd. Surely, for a young girl the answer is clear?

I found myself stuck to my screen nodding my head in agreement and believing this is what it took to be beautiful or attractive. And as a young teen you’re vulnerable to the images exposed to you. I have been guilty of straightening my hair to the point of nearly permanently damaging it.

I’m pretty sure, fellow curl heads have at least at one point in their life have been there. From blow drying and using excessive heat, to keratin treatments, and even trying permanent techniques which damage the roots and leads to the hair grow back horribly damaged. I’ve untagged myself from many photographs on Facebook, and even begged my family to take certain photographs down.

Screenshot from the film princess diaries. Image credit WALT DISNEY PICTURES
 Screenshot from the film princess diaries. Image credit WALT DISNEY PICTURES

In the film, The Princess Diaries, Mia’s best friend criticises her new smooth soft hair, “You used to care more about what was inside your head instead of on it.”

Though, this can even be seen in the real world where curly hair has often has had a stigma tied to it for being ‘messy’, ‘unruly’ and even in some cases ‘unprofessional’. Although, I must admit, curly hair is hard to maintain and depending on the size of your curls it can even be difficult to keep tied up and even keep in a symmetrical style compared to straight hair.

Even working somewhere as informal as a pub, I’ve had occasional moments where customers would make remarks about my hair, ‘oh you should straighten your hair’, ‘it will look better straight’, and even comments such as ‘messy barnet [cockney rhyming slang for hair] you have there’.

It felt humiliating, but I knew I could not react to people who came from a complete different generation and who did not understand my personal experiences.

The work environment is not the only place this can be seen. Attending secondary school, nearly 70% of the students there were of black ethnicity, and the school regulations were that the girls had to tie their hair in a single pony tail. Majority of my black friends found this absurdly frustrating as they had to straighten their hair regularly to be able to maintain it in a ponytail style suitable for the schools regulations.

I’m pretty sure my secondary school was not the only one, there are many schools across the UK with similar and maybe even the same regulations. It often raised the question why did curly hair ever need ‘fixing’ in the first place? Or whether people with straight hair were asked to curl theirs?

Boys, I hate to break it to you but no matter how innocent your intentions may be, telling someone with naturally curly hair they look better with straight hair is – and I cannot argue this enough – not a compliment. This, in a way, can be rooted back to media representation or in fact the lack of representation for curly hair.

Growing up I saw more and more curls on screen, and made me want to embrace my own. A part of growing up is also accepting who you are as a whole, including our ‘frizzy’, ‘unprofessional’, ‘messy’ hair. I think it’s about time we stop straightening and damaging it our hair and we start wearing our manes with pride and challenge the standards that tell us that curly hair is unattractive.

The reality that we don’t know anyone at all

Has it occurred to you that, you may not exactly know the people you hold the dearest to yourself as well as you thought you did? I remember my ex-boyfriend telling me during our third date, “You will never know anyone, not fully.” At the time I got defensive, and took complete offensive to his statement. It made me think, surely if you’ve known someone for all your life or even a long period of time, you must know them inside out? It will be embarrassing not to? Right? Well, wrong. It took me a long time to realise, and I cannot argue this enough, fully realise we do not know anyone at all, not even our dearest ones. The most heart-breaking part of it is that we never really will. 

The Japanese have a proverb which will tell you that people have three masks they wear within their life, sometimes the mask is translated to faces. We have three masks or faces we put on throughout our lives. The first one is the one we show the world, and everyone around us, almost a face in our most perfect form. The second is the face we show to the people closest to us, our loved ones, family, friends. Finally, the third face we dare not show anyone. A face where no one is worthy of seeing and knowing. It is us in our rawest form.

Following this line of thought, these faces or masks are all us, different versions, but still us. The first as I mentioned before is the most perfect, likeable face we portray to the world. We can almost argue that it is also the fakest version. When you think about it, if everyone in the world was to portray only their first face to the world, does that not mean no one has had the courage to show their real face to the world? We can sometimes be conditioned to impress, be likeable, and be forced to be somebody they are simply not. 

With the second face, we believe and trust, thus show a small glimpse of us to our close ones. We like to think they care about us and therefore allow them to stick by us when we have fallen. 

However, these faces the Japanese talk about, for the third mask, is in fact the voice in our head. It is that voice which no one will ever have the privilege to hear, only us. It is us, authentic and Real. This alone, tell us that we never really know what that voice in someone else’s head is saying. They could be plotting a murder for all we know. Unless you possess the power to read minds, you, as much as you wish otherwise, do not know the people around, not fully. 

We are all guilty of putting on a mask every day. Pretending to be that perfect person the world expects us to be. Sometimes, living with the consequences of being authentic can be heavy. Contrary to popular opinion I believe it is an emotional labour to be yourself, showing who you really are to the world. It’s tiring more so than pretending to be someone you’re not. The fear of not being liked once you open yourself, feeling exposed and vulnerable. That is why the first and fakest mask we put on every morning when we stare into our bathroom mirrors with a smile is not an option, but rather a must. We trip, fall, rise, get stuck in limbo every single day. We pass obstacles, we fail them. We are human, yes, but we are also a warrior, a soldier, a fighter. Just like a warrior puts on their armour to face a battle, we put on our masks to face the world.

The odd things you remember when you’re watching someone die.

Photo credit: manyfires 

‘It’s odd, the things you remember when you’re watching someone die.’ I thought to myself, as I looked at his grey face in sorrow. His expression was confused, and his face was thin. There was no trace left from his once red cheeks. It almost felt like I was staring at a zombie with the eyes of a dead fish. Cancer is a dreadful disease. It robs you of your beauty, energy, youth, time, and your life.

I was so lost in my chain of thoughts, that his rough husky voice had to bring me back to reality. I apologised. “I remembered the time you taught me how to make a swing for my toys as a kid.” I said as an explanation to where my mind had drifted off to.

We sat together side by side in peaceful silence, both reminiscing my childhood mainly. The room was bright and white, just like any other ordinary hospital room. It was a bitter sweet moment. As we knew the sense of defeat was knocking on his door. There’s no cure for death, so we should in reality just accept it and welcome it.

Death is a part of life. Often, we are taught that it’s the opposite of life, but they could not be further from the truth. I always wondered why we are never taught to get ready for something which every soul will taste at one point. Then, it occurred to me that humans have a tendency to avoid what they do not understand and what they fear. As if avoiding something and merely pretending the lack of its existence will lead it to go away. It’s a hard reality to get used to, that the world does not wait for anyone. That it will simply continue to turn with or without you and no pain nor yearn will stop it. 

We fear death for its unknown future, it’s such a complex topic to be able to comprehend. Thinking about it can even alter your reality. Ergo, its understandable why we choose to avoid the subject instead. However, acceptance of a matter or event which you do not possess the power to change, can and will reduce suffering. As it allows you to look fear itself in the eyes without flinching.

I believe once you are face to face with death, all your worries, ego and petty dramas are dropped into the depths of the ocean. It humbles you almost, and stops you to end up with piles of regrets of things that needed to be said and people to be loved, things to be done. 

We all know who alexander the great is, what you may not know is after conquering many kingdoms, he was finally returning home. On his journey he became unwell and this illness dragged him to his death bed. With death staring him in the face, he realised how his conquests, his great army, his sword and all his wealth were of no consequence. He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. 

He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes. 

“my first desire is that, my physicians alone must carry my coffin. Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.” After a moment of pause due to exhaustion he continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hand be kept dangling out of my coffin.”

The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strong wishes. But no one dared bring the question to their lips.  Alexander’s favourite general kissed his hand and pressed it to his heart. “Oh king, we assure you that all your wishes will be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this alexander took a deep breath and said, “I would like the world to know the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realise no doctor on this earth can cure death. They are powerless when it comes to saving someone from the clutches of death. The second wish of strewing riches on the path to the graveyard is to tell people that no amount of wealth will save me nor come with mw. I spent my life with the greed of power earning fortune but I cannot take it with me. Let people realise it is a waste of time to chase wealth. About my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came to this world empty handed and empty handed I shall go.” With these words the king closed his eyes, soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.

With this story I want to add that there is birth which is the beginning and there is death, the end but we often forget there is also everything that happens in between, and that is life. Time is precious and death is inevitable. Yet, death is easy and, in some cases, pretty rapid, the main challenge is to live. To live life without fear and accepting death as a part of life.  

As a society we need to stop sweeping the topic of death under a rug. No one wants to think about it now. Why? I would even go as far as to argue it’s one of the most important things to think about.

The talk of religion has been a debate for centuries and probably will be for centuries to come. However, there is no real evidence of an afterlife realistically. There is however, only faith. I sure am one of them who believes in an afterlife. The idea of imaging yourself to never exist and simply rotting six feet underground is scary. But, rather the idea of never existing is difficult for me to fully comprehend. 

One day, you too will close your eyes to this world. All your belongings, possessions and even your last pennies in your bank will no longer matter. It will not exist. It may pass down to your next of kin, you will no longer own them nor will you really be needing them.

Yet, the scariest aspect of death for me is all your memories and knowledge fading. The thought of this truly breaks my heart. It makes you ask the oldest question known to humanity, “what is the meaning of life.”

From the beginning of time, every event that happened, every moment that occurred from the speed of the wind to the rain falling from the sky, happened and it brought you into existence. The butterfly effect. Did it all happen by chance or on purpose? Will you ever be able to find the answer to these questions? Probably not, but the journey to finding these answers will be a hell of an adventure.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain.

A personal story behind the scream painting.

Image: Pinterest

Simply just another ordinary day I thought to myself, a walk with my old man. Dragging my feet across the pier, hearing my footsteps get heavier and heavier, dying of boredom was simply a very possible thing for me at that exact moment. I must say though, what I would give to relive that day. I was about four years of age back then, my fathers’ big hands absolutely wrapping mine, holding me tightly as if he was scared to lose me. Looking back now, I think he just did not want to deal with the trouble of trying to find me, if I was to wonder off. No one really knows what goes on in a curious four-year olds mind, nor do we remember what went on in our own minds when we were four. We just had so many unanswered questions and fairy-tale like adventures.

He suddenly stopped and let go of my hand at that point, I was pretty surprised by this, I looked up as far as my short neck could reach and saw his eyes lost in the distance, without looking away or even blinking he then placed both hands on either on my head – his hands were bigger than my whole face and neck combined — one hand on each side, covering my ears and squeezing my cheeks and turned my head towards the edge of the ocean and whispered “look at the sky”. I was mesmerized by what I saw. In its literal sense, simply froze on the spot. A weird trembling feeling creeped up my legs starting from the tip of my toes. It was  a tremble of fear. But it was a fear you’d embrace and not look or run away from. The sky was blood shot red, angry, I remember thinking, why Is the sky so angry. I somehow always associated the skies with god, I assumed god was angry. What did the human race do to bring anger to god to simply make the bluest of skies to be covered in spilled ink of red.

Greek Mythology; Hades

It has surely been a fascinating mystery to me as to why so many oppose and bear a disliking towards Hades, or simply portray him as the villain in nearly every book, film and story. Is his job not to just secure balance between the two worlds, and only merciless if humans — as cunning as they are — were to cheat him to escape from death, from the underworld? He is not evil, I assure and know of it. He surely is disliked but not many really knows as to the reason behind it. I can assure that no one really came to the realisation to ask why? No one ever really took a moment to think about him, he the oldest of all siblings, the one who boiled in stomach acid the longest, and again no one took a moment to think when he was ostracised by his own flesh and blood, his own family.

He is not evil, I assure and know of it.

Hades does not take souls, therefore he is not death but the ruler of the dead. He rules what is sent to him. He is known for his firmness yes, but he is also fair. Western production try hard to turn Hades into a powerful dark character, however, when glimpsing into reality he is the sweet, awkward one who probably writes poetry in his own time. Being dark and gloomy by nature must not make one bad or evil. How can one not trust who owns a dog?

When provided by a choice to either become the ruler and God of the skies, of the sea or everything underneath, he simply watched as his brother turned against each other for the first two, hatred captivating their hearts, thus saw the last option as a means of escape. He was smart, he thought outside the box and was well aware of the potential of the extent of what could come under his rule; all of the jewels and metal, and was he to ever to embrace the darkness, every human would become his eventually, thus leaving him with and army, making him the strongest.

No one ever really took a moment to think about him, he the oldest of all siblings, the one who boiled in stomach acid the longest, and again no one took a moment to think when he was ostracised by his own flesh and blood, his own family.

His realm would be the most vast, subjects the most numerous, without a doubt out numbering his two brother, and wealth beyond any measure. Well aware of the fact that when the time was to come ahead he could effortlessly take the other two realms for himself.

 

The Art of Forgiveness.

The art of forgiveness, so simple for some, yet a drastic struggle for the hatred dominated souls. Is it not in somewhat an excuse for the abusive behaviour, of the wrongdoer. Fostering hate is a lot easier than to simply just forgive the wrongdoing of your once loved one. What a strange world we live in to see the ones we devour with our hearts are to first strike a knife in your chest. You watch as once your enemies are the ones lifting you up healing your wounds. We unfortunately, are a part of a society that indulges us with a belief, that to be considered sane one must act against powerful feelings and simply suppress them. Being passionate with our emotions, enduring them to its full potential is known to be the definition of crazy. Though what does it matter to society because even the ones who walked through a traumatic hell fire in their  life, or just emotional overload are still expected to just play it cool.

yes, you guessed right. I am that girl with the worst temper, who shed tears over tiniest of issues. Forgiveness has never been my strong point, not even at this precise moment. I still hold on to my anger, hatred and disappear of certain people. I just can not accept or forget. Awaking in the midst of the dark night with sweat wetting my hair, and fear leaving me breathless of the nightmares I endure every night. The lack of sleep it results in thus relying on substance to simply be able to acquire a glimpse of sleep. How can society just expect me to play it cool?

Relying on substance to simply be able to acquire a glimpse of sleep.

When it comes to forgiving, it is not to say you’re simply fine with what was done, but to allow yourself a peace of mind. Unable to forgive one is purely the collection of the anger and rage, we must act on our powerful emotions, live to their full potential, thus to finally be able to move. We cannot just live life stuck in one portion of our timelines, that we cannot call living. Freedom is living. To free yourself from the burden, the baggage, to just let it all go we must then forgive. Sometimes we have to forgive not for the sake of the other but merely yourself. We come into this world alone, we shall die alone, remembering death and that all life on earth is one day to come to an end is crucial, as it is a reminder to not how to live ones life but how not to. Don’t live life based on hatred, as it brings nothing but misery. Forgive for the sake of yourself, and no other.