Dear Level

What to Do When You Don’t Like Your Partner’s Style Choices

You may not be on board with every makeover. Here’s how to be supportive anyway.

Aliya S. King
Published in
4 min readNov 28, 2020
Illustration: Olivia Fields

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In 1993, I decided I wanted to stop chemically treating my hair and just let my natural curls do their own thing. It wasn’t a popular concept at the time; a woman’s beauty and femininity were still tightly connected to how she styled her hair. But for countless reasons, both political and professional, I wanted no parts of artificially straightened hair anymore.

My boyfriend, a college senior, was not supportive. His idea of glamorous was Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Toni Braxton. And my plan — a half-inch Afro — was not what they were rocking.

I told him why the cut was important to me, but he didn’t budge. My shoulder-length straightened hair was all he’d ever known, and what I was considering was far too drastic for him to accept.

So I asked him point blank: Are you attracted to me or my hair?

He refused to answer. I went through with the big chop the following day. (We broke up within a few weeks. He said it wasn’t my hair, but we both knew better.)

That was nearly 30 years ago, and it still stings that he couldn’t find a way to support something that was so important to me. Since that day, I’ve never allowed a relationship to determine how I’ll dress, wear my hair, tattoo my body, or anything else.

In every relationship there’s an initial attraction. We’re interested in what we see on that first date (or first swipe). That attractiveness grows and changes shape as time goes on, but we can’t act like it doesn’t matter.

If you love someone — truly love them — you have to get over yourself and be supportive. No matter what my college sweetheart thought of my hair, he should have said something like, “I see this is important to you. And it’s bigger than hair. I do like your hair long. But you’re beautiful and I’m here for you.”

Over the years, I’ve undergone other major changes in different relationships…



Aliya S. King
Writer for

Aliya S. King is an author, freelance writer and editor.