Our Valentine's Day resolution is all about embracing ourselves, our bodies, our skin and even our hair. No matter what your silhouette is, what your complexion looks like or what type of locks you have adorning your beautiful head, we are pretty sure there's plenty to love.
And yet, according to body image expert and "Love Your Body, Love Your Life" author Sarah Maria, 85 to 90 percent of women dislike their appearance. For some, this involves their weight, for others their age, for others their hair, but for most, it's usually a combination of all of the above. Suffice to say, the majority of women dislike some or all of their appearance, including their hair.
"Many women believe that their hair is too flat, dull, graying or otherwise deviates from the long, thick, wavy-hair standard," said Maria. "Our culture promotes this idea of 'full-bodied' hair as beautiful. Women who have naturally fine hair or hair without a lot of body often believe it is not as attractive. This is a socially induced hallucination."
Maria goes on to say that it is simply a fashion trend to say hair needs body or thickness, or anything in particular to be attractive. Yet most women accept these false ideas and images unhesitatingly and then measure themselves against them and consistently come up deficient in some way.
Hollywood, of course, can be the biggest factor in influencing the way women feel about their hair. Celebrity and runway hairstyles change weekly, and it's often difficult (many would say impossible) to keep up with what's considered "fashionable." But Maria advises women not to fall victim to that.
"Do you want your well-being dependent on a constantly changing trend?" she asked. "Or do you want to feel good about yourself regardless of the latest look being promoted on the runways and in the movies?"
It's not surprising that women who tend to feel good about their hair are ones who are not overly focused and obsessed about their appearance.
So how can we all learn to be like that and embrace the natural strands we have?
First off, accept the premise that whatever hair you have is good enough. This doesn't mean you can't change its color or style. It simply means that your beauty -- and your self-worth -- is not in any way dependent on your hair. "More likely than not, your hair is perfectly lovely," said Maria, "and if you believe otherwise, it is because you have been fed a million false messages regarding yourself, your body, and your looks by a culture that thrives on fostering and promoting false ideas of beauty."
Hand in hand with this, you can't like your hair if you don't like yourself, according to Gilda Pastena, celebrity stylist from Pierre Michel Salon in New York City, who said self-esteem always plays a part in acceptance.
"I think it goes back to personality and self-fulfillment," she said. "Women who are happy at home, with their career, family, significant other, etc., are happier with themselves, which leads to less focus on hair imperfections!"
Second, learn to make the most of the locks you have by catering to its state -- not trying to force it into a style that will not work for your hair. More often than not, women are at odds with the texture or thickness of their hair, and thinning or aging tresses often rank at the top of that list.
No matter what type of hair you have, falling in love with it can be easier than you think.
Here are Pastena's insider beauty tips on how to embrace your unique and lovely locks:
Dry or damaged hair: Be sure to treat your mane to monthly deep-conditioning treatments. This can help restore moisture and bring hair back into balance. Also, do not overuse curling irons, blow-dryers and flatirons, as these can further damage tattered tresses. Give your hair a break and let it air-dry at least once or twice a week. And don't forget regular trims -- snipping off split ends every two months can go a long way to keeping it healthy.
Gray or aging hair: Who says silver can't be sensational! If you have a beautiful shade of gray, go ahead and leave it if you want. Just be sure to keep your locks well-conditioned because gray hair can often become dry, coarse and wiry. Also, avoid shampoos with an added dye or color as this could dull your strands. And finally, consider adding some lowlights for depth and dimension -- that's a beautiful touch!
Thinning hair: If your locks are fine or getting thinner with age, switch to a volumizing shampoo and a lightweight conditioner. Keep hair in a shorter style that is all one length or with longer layers. Avoid too many layers and too much product that can weigh it down. Instead, use a volume-boosting gel on the ends before blow-drying and style with a large round brush working your way from the roots to the ends. Extensions or clip-ons can also be a fun enhancement for more of a boost.
Curly hair: Just go with it! Embrace your natural curls and see what happens. Long layers can be very flattering and adding volume at the roots can inspire bounce. When styling, use a good detangler spray followed by a curl cream to separate the hair and stave off frizz. Then dry with a diffuser, starting at the roots and working your way to the ends.
Straight hair: With straight hair, you have options. You can play up its natural texture by going for a sleek and shiny look. Blow-dry with a large round brush and then gently straighten the ends with a flatiron. If your hair is longer, you can choose from a number of stylish ponytails and updos. Don't be afraid to try different looks!
"Make a choice to ignore the false messages that you are constantly bombarded with from the media, friends and everywhere else," added Maria. "And discover and experience your inherent beauty and self-worth, including enjoying the hair that you have on your head."
And while you're on a self-romance kick, fall in love with your body, too!