My paternal grandmother always had a brush,
And loads of hair products ready with her to tame my “unruly”, unkempt hair.
She would sit me down on my knees,
pull at my hair painfully until it got detangled,
then she would apply a lot of hair cream,
pull my hair back into a bun or braid it,
Until the curls were no longer visible.
I’ve always been chubby.
My family didn’t have a problem with that,
And they never told me that I needed to lose weight.
But when I was young,
Mama didn’t like dressing me in revealing clothing,
So that no one would give me the evil eye.
My family was always very critical,
And they tended to make fun of people.
I was born with flawed joints.
I could walk very well and run and all that,
But when I stood,
My knees bent backward,
At first sight, it looked like my legs had been amputated.
My family always called me “Miss knees,”
And my mother always made fun of me in front of my siblings.
She thought I was inverting my knees like this on purpose.
She once even called me “disabled,”
And told me to straighten my knees.
I am olive-skinned.
There’s nothing special about my features; I look like any other Egyptian.
I have oily skin.
I’ve had acne since I was a teenager,
And I didnt know how to deal with it.
I was bullied at school a lot as a kid.
“Wash your face! You look dirty.”
“You look like so and so, but she looks cleaner than you!”
These are the kinds of things I would hear as a kid from my colleagues and sometimes even my own family.
I attended university outside of my governorate.
I used to brush my hair in the bathroom,
Because I didn't want any of the other girls to bother me.
I started realizing there were a lot of people like me,
When I started being active on social media.
These girls weren’t ashamed of their hair.
They went out in public with their curly hair.
I even read articles about the experiences of girls with curly hair.
It made me ask myself if my hair was something to be embarrassed about.
Why was I scared?
These stories gave me the courage to accept my hair as is.