Let’s talk about my hair.
Its been a topic of conversation my entire life. Beginning when I was born completely bald till now, when people comment on my younger daughter’s delicate tangle of almost-curls by saying, “She has your hair!” And I will correct them with a simple, “No she doesn’t. When I was her age I had a ‘fro.” No exaggerations here, it was a legitimate Afro piled atop my head—it grew out, not down.
Elementary was a nightmare because it was a time of unreconciled disparities—me not brushing my rats nest hair and my mother taking me to a woman in our ward to cut it off. Over and over. But I never understood because can curly hair be brushed? I didn’t know about working product through the mess with my hands. I didn’t even know about product.
Middle school was a nightmare because I discovered product… Mousse or gel? Shampoo or conditioner? Or Shampoo/conditioner combo? Or separate? Or horse mane shampoo? (Remember horse mane shampoo??) Does Frizz-Ease really ease the frizz? Is using a diffuser the way to go? Every day was a surprise as to what I would get—a veritable grab bag of curl cast-offs— and depending on the weather, the barometer, the Gods, the lunar eclipse, if Mars was aligned with Venus and there were only cumulus clouds in the sky, I had good hair. But usually I had bad hair, and so of course I envied all the girls with thin, billowy locks that fell in curtains around their cheeks and across their shoulders. So smooth! So predictable! I didn’t know about patience, that I would learn.
But what would I learn? Simply how to deal with curly hair? Or to love it?
In junior high my sister flattened my hair for the first time. With an iron. While I laid my hair on an ironing board. I remember I was wearing a navy tie-dyed tank top and frayed daisy dukes because for the longest while I stood, bent forward at the waist, staring at my clothes, while she slowly raked the iron across my hair and hoped it wouldn’t burn. We were a little scared of that. But remember this (always remember this!) it was worth the risk: I already had a mane of unruly craziness—how much worse could it get?
In high school, one of my dearest friends had her beauty school diploma (earned in the evenings after class… how awesome is she?) and we set about trying to divine our frizz on weekends. Yes, I said that collectively. Ours. Hers and mine. Is it any coincidence I was drawn to other curly haired girls? Girls who knew that ease and perfection were not part of the package? My friend would be my first foray into a professional blow dry and honestly? It took her hours. And also? I loved it. But still? Another friend’s older brother made fun of it! I guess somehow, my curly hair was always a defining part of me.
The sleep-deprivation of college taught me that slept-on hair was friggin awesome hair, and I came to like day two of my hair washing cycle the best. A little bit smooshed, a little bit of serum, and I was ready for class. And another nap. It was also the advent of the messy-bun (a no-brainer), and a certain zeal for attracting budding stylists from all the beauty schools in Provo needing a “hair model” for their portfolios. Plus I missed my friend, suddenly far away at a more hair-diverse UCLA, conquering her curls, finding herself, and I longed to find myself too. But my husband assures me that alternating blond and red stripes were not the answer.
(It was the 90’s.)
Sex and the City reminded me that curly hair grown out long, cascading in all its very large glory, was hair to be envied and as I studied magazine articles dissecting “Carrie’s Look,” I was wizened to the stealth of the ½ inch curling iron and finally found a way to control each curl to my own liking. Sorta.
(SJP was skinny petite though. And I always felt like my hair competed with my body. Which is another essay entirely.)
Anyway, soon enough the babies came and I discovered the biggest coup of all: I also really liked my dirty hair on day five, and later, an easy transition: day seven. This self-discovery was then validated by my current stylist who insisted that frequent washing was bad for my dry hair. I was sold with no convincing and professed my fealty to her accordingly.
So when I see on her Facebook wall that she has just finished styling Julia Ormond’s hair, I write that thank goodness she had me for all her practice. And she responds with a seriously…
Julia Ormond has a keratin treatment that makes her hair more manageable.
You would love it.
So here I am. It’s an expensive treatment I’ve scheduled for 20 days from now. It promises relaxed curls—the kind I love, and no frizz—that stuff of the devil. It seems a crossroads of sorts and not just because I’m afraid to tell my mom (who insists Carol King should be my hair role-model), but because of all I’ve trudged through to only arrive here so quietly. I thought quashing my hair-demons would be so much bigger, triumphant, means for a party, but the truth is, there are no more demons.
I really like my hair.
(Especially on day five.)
Do you have any body issues you have come to peace with?