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Nicole Abi-Najem Headshot

My Wild And Beautiful Curls Bring Out The Courage In Me

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The hair iron has long been a staple in my shrine of beauty and worthiness. It was only until a couple years back when I got really sick and my hair just kind of languished there on my head, barely growing, that I let go of the iron.

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While I do straighten on occasion, there is this sort of metamorphosis that takes place after I just let the unhindered wildness in me be totally and utterly free. When my hair is curly, no one is any longer running their fingers through my hair from root to tip, telling me how it feels silky. Instead, I feel the weight and strength of the curls on me and around my shoulders.

When I see childhood pictures of myself in Lebanon and Cyprus after my family fled the war, I'm on the beach with only a bathing suit bottom and sand speckling my body like muted glitter. And my curls are covering my face.

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In elementary school, when I struggled with the debilitating shyness of adjusting to a new country and post-traumatic stress from the war, I'd literally hide behind those thick, black curls and feel safe. My teacher even had to have a talk with me about how my hair was always in my face. One day I came up to her so proud that my hair was up in a pony tail, and she just beamed at seeing my face, uncovered.

Now, I'm back to the curls: touching them, tightening them, twisting them and feeling them bounce, and my presence is made bigger and bolder with them, getting lost in them when I need to because they will always let me.

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I've gone from turning that iron all the way up and watching my hair sizzle to a flat crisp to lathering my hair in creams and moisturizers, treating it like my own skin that I refuse to burn. I'd rather soak in those sensuous coconut and Argan oils. Even as my hair journey progresses -- when one day it will grey, or thin, or may be lost all together -- I always appreciate it, for all it has done for me, for all the ways it has told me who I should not be afraid to be.

We all carry memories of hair struggles and journeys: whether it's haircuts gone wrong; big or small manes that frame our face; whether you prefer short hair, long hair or none at all. Maybe you like natural or extravagant colours or maybe you don't have the privilege of choosing. Hair is an extension of who we are.

I remember my parents recounting to me that as a baby I got lice and they had to shave my hair clean off. Then everyone in the neighbourhood was commenting on what a cute baby boy they had. Or take the picture below: that is what happens when one attempts to chop your curly hair into a bob and it turns into a lop-sided mess.

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It has been an emotional journey, but I feel even during my vulnerable times my hair shows the world the courage in me.

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