@beingupile is a brilliant writer whose work centers around self-improvement and self-acceptance. We got the chance to ask her how loving her hair was part of her journey, and her advice for women who are still struggling to love who they see in the mirror.
Self improvement and acceptance have been underlying themes in your work. How did this writing style come about?
Upile: I started to write poems about self-love when I'd freshly decided that I needed to love myself through a lot of my struggles. I was just out of college and so scared of the world. The search for a job and meaning really was starting to wear me down. This writing style was my escape. 'soft magic', my first collection, brought me hope and a new outlook on life. I learnt that I could make something powerful even in the depths of sadness. It was healing and refreshing and I just want to share what those words have given me with other people.
As a black woman with type 4 hair, has loving your hair been a part of your journey towards self- acceptance?Upile: My relationship with my hair has always been an experimental one. My hair is the only space I allowed myself to take risks for the longest time. I was a pretty good kid in school and at home but I found that my hair could be this creative outlet and I never looked back. I could suppress my desire to be a creative in other parts of my life but in my hair. I used all the dyes and did all the cuts and all the braids and all the chemicals. I loved my hair for the freedom it gave me to be a creative. When I was younger it was all about experimenting but the older I've gotten and the more I've stepped into the world I've realized that there is a political aspect to how I wear my hair.
I've heard the conversations about hair texture even amongst Black people and I realize there's differences. I have settled on celebrating my hair for what it is and I encourage people to do the same but you won't catch me policing other Black women's hair anytime soon. After all, my hair was a lab, I've done all the styles twice over.
You recently shared with your followers your experience being diagnosed with alopecia. What do you do to combat any negative feelings about having the condition?
Upile: I hate that I have alopecia. I hate the uncertainty that comes with my alopecia because sometimes my hair grows and thrives and in the eleventh hour it all falls out. It is a constant struggle. I have a lot of healing ahead. I fall into negative spaces every so often but I have to catch myself and bring myself back to the light. My family and my partner help, they let me cry and they listen.
For women who are looking in the mirror, and still not happy with her hair, what do you suggest that they do to combat those feelings?
Upile: If you are looking in the mirror and you can't see anything you like, I am sending you all the warm hugs. I think hair is a lovely thing and it gives us a way to express ourselves and we keep it for different reasons. But we need to see the beauty in other parts of our lives. Ultimately, we've all got work to do. I think for you to thrive wholly and in a meaningful way you'll need to get started on that work. These negative feelings we'll always find a way to seep in but if we do the work of self-love well enough and often enough, these feelings won't stay too long.
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