I am of Greek descent. Growing up, I had very curly hair. I loved my curls, especially because they were in style when I was going to middle school and high school back in the 1980’s. My classmates never had a problem with it, but my father did. He always wanted me to straighten my hair and wear it pulled back into a ponytail, because that was how the daughter of one of his friends at our church wore it. Her hair was naturally straight. My father thought she was the best of all the girls in the world. He considered her to be better than me. If that wasn’t bad enough, he wanted me to be an exact replica of her, going as far as using force to make me style my hair exactly like hers. Straight and pulled back in a ponytail.
He didn’t approve of my curly hair, because I was told that nice girls didn’t wear their hair the way I did. The more I rebelled against him and his ignorance, the more I was tortured and punished by him. I stressed the importance of my being an individual with my own personality. I also told him that no two people were alike. However, he only got more infuriated. If I didn’t comply with his wishes and demands, he often would chop off my curls, making my hair short. I hated short hair, and like you I hated having my hair straight. I wanted to be me. Every time he chopped off my curls to punish me, I felt I was losing a part of myself.
When I got away from him and my mother, I wore my hair the way I wanted to wear it, and proudly. It is important for people to be proud of who they are, not to hide themselves from the world. No one should be made to feel inferior to the world, just because their hair is a certain way. He was the root of my problem.
As a child, I wasn’t allowed to have my own personality. For me to be an individual wasn’t something my father tolerated. He viewed my need for individuality as a huge sign of disrespect, because he preferred me to take on the personality and persona of someone else, the girl that I mentioned in the above paragraph.
It was so unfair of him not to accept me for who I was as a person. To be myself was unacceptable to him. Not only did he want me to have my hair styled like the girl who was the daughter to one of his friends, but he wanted me to dress like her, talk like her, and get into the same profession as she did. The girl went to school to be an educator. He wanted me to be an educator, because she set the standards for me as to how I was to be as a person, and the kind of profession. Don’t misunderstand me. I have the highest respect for educators; however, my dream was to become a professional writer.
I long enjoyed telling stories and writing poetry. I acquired an appreciation for literature from my Great-Grandfather John N. Armenis who often read some poetry with me written in the Greek language from a book he had. He also discussed with me the articles featured in the Reader’s Digest. He was the one who often encouraged me to become a writer, because he saw potential in me.
© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015