This story is prompted by Dove’s new ad campaign, Love Your Curls. As the ad says…when you try to tame my curls, you are trying to tame me. It is all about encouraging young girls and women to embrace who they are in all their glory, and of course this is not Dove’s first campaign to this end. Yet this one struck a particular cord with me. It prompted me to think about my own hair experiences and how it seems we often want what we do not have.

So, let’s talk about my hair. Growing up, my hair was so straight that a curling iron was worthless. The curls would fall out within minutes. Yet I always wanted curly hair. I remember one girl in my school with beautiful curls. Funny thing, at a young age, I did not realize that some people had naturally curly hair. I just thought she had a really awesome perm. Of course, I spent years getting perms trying to get those fabulous curls. Only problem…each time I ended up looking like little orphan Annie. Not the look I was going for (although her curls are beautiful as well!). I was distraught. In my family, we still refer to my irritable days as “bad hair days.” Oy Vey!

Fast forward into my 30’s and guess what…I got curly hair. My hair grayed early. It is genetic…thanks dad. So, as my hair slowly went more and more gray, it also slowly became more and more curly. And for the past years, I have hated the curls…frizzy and limp, so I most often straightened my hair. And when I had a television appearance, the producers actually asked my to make sure to straighten my hair, as audiences perceive experts to be more credible with straight hair rather than curly hair. Oy Vey!

Fast forward again to last summer when I decided sc*#w it and I chopped off my hair, went with the curls, and let them run wild. Oddly enough, I felt liberated. No more trying to make my hair do what it naturally does not want to do. And everyone loves the new do, often commenting upon how it truly fits me and represents my personality. Go figure. So, when I had straight hair, I wanted curly hair. And when I had curly hair, I wanted straight hair. Can I get an…oy vey! So how can you embrace your unique self and help those whom you love do so as well?

1. Stand up to the media, advocate for magazines to stop airbrushing models and for ad campaigns to include women of all physical appearances. After all, we are all beautiful.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others. Embrace your unique self.

3. Surround yourself with those who love and appreciate you for who you are. Because you are worthy of that unconditional love.

4. Focus on stopping those negative thoughts and embracing self-kindness. Be gentle and generous with your self.

5. Choose to focus on what you like about yourself rather than on what you do not like.

6. Recognize that you are your worst critic. And even your warts make you the truly wonderful person that you are.

7. Be healthy. Exercise, eat well, drink in moderation…at least try to most of the time.

8. Play to your assets. Do not try to hide your appearance (so stop trying to tame those curls!).

9. Nurture your inner self. Take time for things that make you truly happy.

10. Recognize that how you view yourself impacts how others view you. Exude confidence and others will see you as confident.

We are all a work in progress and I am no exception. So, let’s take it one day at a time, working towards self-love. Let your curls be free. Let your curves be free. Let yourself be free.

“For once, you believed in yourself. You believed you were beautiful and so did the rest of the world.” – Sarah Dessen in Keeping the Moon