‘Un- Becoming Rapunzel’ by Sajju Maharjan
What comes to your mind when one says “Rapunzel”? Obviously, her beautiful long hair, isn’t it? How should you feel when one calls you Rapunzel? Should you feel overjoyed or sad? I felt confused when I was first called as Rapunzel by my friends. Honestly, I did not know the whole story of Rapunzel except her long hair.
I have long silky hair which everyone really admires. . Every time I meet new people, I get complimented for my hair. I come across many questions like “What do you do for your hair?
Which shampoo do you use? Did you permanently straighten your hair? How do you take care of your long hair?” And my answer always remains the same–. Honestly, I do not do anything extra. I do not need to take out separate time to take care of my hair. I just leave it as it is. That’s all. And people get shocked with the answer and tell me “You are so lucky”. I don’t know if I should feel lucky for this but I always reply with a smile.
My hair never was a problem until few years back when I was sixteen. I was participating in a seminar with a group of people I had never met before. Every day we had to secretly put a positive note or a compliment in everyone’s basket of envelope. On the last day we got our envelopes filled with positive notes. As I returned back home, I was so excited to open my envelope but slowly my excitement dropped down. Almost every piece of paper I opened I saw compliments of only my hair.
I felt really bad that all these days, my identity was just my hair. That day, I promised myself to be more than just my hair.
After a year I was part of another program which had the same activity of putting compliments on the envelopes each day. Likewise on the last day we were all given the envelopes of our names. This time I wasn’t as excited as last time but when I opened my envelope, I was so happy to see none of my compliments for my hair but rather were for my personality. The feeling of being more than just my hair was delightful!!
But this wasn’t the end of the story.
As I was in the verge of transforming to adulthood, I started getting comments like “Your hair is so beautiful that it can lure any guy”, “Any guy would be attracted to you for your hair”. These comments dishearten me to the core. Firstly, it objectifies me and reduces my identity to my hair which I never want to do and secondly, the whole concept of the need for girls to be attractive to lure the guy is outrageous.
Honestly, I have a love-hate relation with my hair. Some days I feel like combing it properly and some days I feel frustrated. I appreciate and value my hair and objectifying it just demeans me.
My hair is part of me but I do not want it to be all of me. I would want to be admired and appreciated for my personality rather than for my hair.
I do not want to become a Rapunzel who one remembers just for her long hair and nothing more.
Sajju Maharjan is an ASAP Youth Champion from Nepal