A Love Letter to My Hair — My Favorite Thing About Myself

POPSUGAR Photography | Hedy Phillips
POPSUGAR Photography | Hedy Phillips

Last year, I was at a Harry Styles concert alone in a city I'd never been to, looking to meet up with friends I had only met on Twitter. While searching for them inside the venue, I got a message on my phone from one of them saying, "I see your hair – I'm on my way to you," and sure enough, she had spotted me simply by seeing my space buns in a sea of people.

Those space buns, while probably no longer "in style," became my signature throughout the One Direction fandom. It seemed like every time I posted a photo of myself from a concert or from meeting one of the guys, I happened to have my hair in pigtail buns. It was just the latest in a long string of identifiable hairstyles that I attached to myself over the years of valuing my hair as the most important aspect of my appearance.

The famous space buns.

For so many years, I just assumed that I loved my hair because it was pretty, and that is partly true, but as an adult, I've learned that it runs deeper than that. I struggled — and still do struggle — with stubborn skin. It's not cystic acne, and it's not that bad, but my face is the first thing people see. No matter how hard I've tried to clear my skin, it's never been 100 percent clear, and it's completely out of my control. Add to that the fact that my weight has made me self-conscious for very nearly my entire life, and what I'm left with on my body that I have complete control over is actually my hair.

As a child, I was the chubby one in class. It sucked for obvious reasons, but I mostly learned to deal with it, because when you're 10 years old, your weight isn't something you should be worried about. Nevertheless, some of the mean kids in class would call me "Heavy Hedy" or something similar. Sure, once I hit junior high, I started to be more careful with my weight, but I also highlighted my hair for the first time. I didn't want to be the chubby girl, I wanted to be just about literally anything else, so my hair was my answer.

Thanks to parents who did everything in their power to ensure I had the best life possible, I found myself in the salon whenever I wanted to change things up to suit my whimsy. I emulated celebrities, tried out new colors, and had every beautiful hairstyle I could dream up. Cool hair eventually became my thing, and I actually could not have been more excited.

POPSUGAR Photography | Hedy Phillips

I really truly love my hair. I don't feel indifferent toward it. I don't ignore it. I cherish it, which is why when I cut it all off a few years ago, it sent me into a downward spiral that was borderline absurd. I thought it would be new and fun but it was horrible, and it's been a rebuilding process ever since.

Over the years, my weight yo-yoed and my skin had its good days and bad, but I can mold and shape my hair into exactly what I want. Feeling fat today? I'm going to get a blowout and have shiny hair. Got a nasty breakout on the left side of my face? I'll curl my hair so it's big and poufy, that way you won't even notice the blemish. Currently hating everything in my wardrobe? (A common problem.) Let's dye my hair 14 different colors so I can live in black clothes but still look vibrant.

The space buns situation at the Harry Styles show wasn't the first time — and absolutely won't be the last time — I was identified solely by the appearance of my hair. For some people, being identified by one trait, especially something as trivial as hair, might bother them, but for me, it's been something I'm pretty proud of. I put a lot of time and money and effort into my hair, and at the end of the day, it's what makes me happy. So if you want to call me the girl with the space buns or, as I heard just the other day, "the girl with the hair," thanks to the rainbow look I walked in the door with, that's just fine with me.