The many times our hair helped us get through life

Marj Casal Handog
The many times our hair helped us get through life
And it’s not only during breakups

MANILA, Philippines – I used to have long black hair for most of my teenage years until my early twenties. I didn’t want to cut it or color it. All I wanted was natural-looking hair. It also meant I had always looked the same. I used to get mukha ka pa ring high school” [you still look like you’re in high school] all the time. I thought that was a compliment, thinking that it meant I looked young for my age. 

But when I had to go through a tough time – my boyfriend of 7 years broke up with me to be with my best friend who’s also a guy – I knew that my life was forever changed and that I needed a change, too, ASAP.

I never understood why women who break up with their partners drastically cut or color their hair until that moment. After days and nights of crying and being in denial, I, too, had my long black hair cut. And for the first time, sported a golden brown bob. It wasn’t just a whim, it was almost like a need for me to be able to get up and start over again.      

It seems like a trivial thing, cutting and coloring our hair. But for many of us women, it almost always signifies something way beyond aesthetics – and not just breakups. It was the easiest way to touch base with the person we want ourselves to become. 

A new sleek-looking pixie cut could mean she has finally moved on from a toxic to a better workplace where she is now holding an important position she deserves. A radiant pink hair could mean she’s a new mom who’s finally feeling like herself again. A neon green ombre hair could mean she’s done being insecure and is ready to embrace her unique personality. 

Unfortunately, not all women feel they’re allowed to change or be who they are. It’s 2020 and we still get judged or even mocked by the length and color of our hair. It’s too short, too curly, too blonde, too different. And sometimes, women who sport uniquely beautiful hair get stereotyped as rogue, crazy, and attention-seeking. 

Some people would even go so far as saying that having a hair color other than black is equivalent to shunning your Filipino roots. It’s absurd. Being a Filipina is not about having black hair. It’s about being strong, confident, and true to yourself.  

And that’s what Dove’s new film #MyHairMySay is all about. Women from different parts of the Philippines share how they’ve been told hurtful things just because they’ve chosen to make their hair their own. 

But in the end, they’ve learned that beauty is being who you are. And no one can tell them, and all of us women, otherwise.

How about you? What’s your #MyHairMySay story? –

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Marj Casal Handog

Marj Casal heads the content team of BrandRap, Rappler’s sales and marketing arm. She helps create native advertising campaigns for brands like San Miguel Brewery, Shell, GCash, Grab, BDO, and more.