Tiana Zuniga with Girls Write Now mentor Jan Alexander.
Tiana Zuniga with Girls Write Now mentor Jan Alexander.

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)– I think of beauty as something that should be unique, that defines each person differently. But most people seem to think there’s only one definition of beauty. For example, my family’s view of beauty is that it means having straight, soft hair. I’ve been relaxing my hair since I was in fifth grade and over the years my hair has been suffering from all the chemicals I apply to it. This caused chunks of my hair to fall out.

There was a time I wanted to control my own hair and leave out the chemicals. I didn’t mind that it would mean my hair wouldn’t be straight and soft anymore. But my family, especially my aunt, hated nappy hair and always wanted me to perm it. It hurt me and made me think that my family doesn’t want me to be the real me. My natural hair is a part of me.

At school, my friends have specific ideas about what’s beautiful as well. There’s this girl named Lilly in my school who has natural hair that’s short and uncombed. People make fun of her constantly. One Friday, a friend of mine drew a picture of a tree and told me the head of the tree looks like Lilly’s hair. This pretty much hurt me because if my friends are that harsh about Lilly’s hair in its natural state, what might they say about me There were times my hair was the center of my friends’ focus. They would ask me, “Tiana why doesn’t your hair grow as fast as that girl’s ” Don’t they know that there are genetic factors behind how fast your hair grows Hair is every girl’s burden. The same goes for looks in general. So I decided to write about the way I look.

The thing I hate the most about my hair is its slow growth rate. This year I’ve decided to give it a break from all the constricted ponytails and killer chemicals. I even feed it. When I say feed it, I mean I literally serve it breakfast, which includes egg and coffee. I take a small bowl and mix an egg and coffee together in it. Then when I get into the shower, I pour the yolk all over my hair. It’s icy cold. Sadly, I still get zero results.

Still, my hair is my own and it’s part of what makes me uniquely me. The thing I love most about my hair is its thickness. I love how I can walk my fingers along what feels like sidewalks running across my scalp. It feels like a pillow that has never been touched, and the volume is bigger than the Empire State Building. Most people want thicker hair, but I already have it. Yet I’d rather have people love me for me instead of my thick head of hair.

When I think of other features, there are things I hate about my legs, but also things I love. I don’t like their shape. I feel like a bell when I walk. Then when someone interacts with me, I jingle. But what I love most about my legs is how cold they feel. I know this sounds weird, but I love cool skin. I love rubbing my feet and I love to bend my legs. Most of all, I love walking with them. Not everyone can walk. I have strong legs that can carry me places.

I love to laugh, but I don’t like how big my smile can get when I’m laughing. I look like one of those clowns who haunt you at night. I try to be more of a mime who has no emotion and no smile. But that doesn’t work so well. So instead, I try to cover my mouth every time I laugh. It looks as if I have just said a curse word. In other words, I laugh so much that I drown in my own laughter. One time I was even punished for laughing in my seventh grade science class because I was laughing at a “SpongeBob” episode. I ended up having to stand up and face the wall in front of the class. But the whole time I was thinking it’s good to laugh, and I wasn’t sorry.

And besides, even if my smile is big, it’s perfect. I used to have braces and I’m not going to lie; they were extremely uncomfortable at times. However, the braces did their job of straightening my teeth and allowing me to smile at things I think are great. Plus, smiles just make you a more positive, more attractive person. Maybe the bigger your smile is, the better.