Curl, Interrupted

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…

BUT…

Julia Ormond has a keratin treatment that makes her hair more manageable.

And a

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?

About Brooke

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

20 thoughts on “Curl, Interrupted

  1. Same issue here. Hair. For me, think “hermoine in year 1 at hogwarts”. Oh how I despise it.
    I also have a wicked crossbite. Even had it surgically fixed in high school (jaw wired shut for 2 weeks) but it grew back. I know others don’t notice it but it’s all I see in myself.

    That said, I’m 27 and have two kids and I’ve never been so physically happy with myself. Not sure if my husband has done a good job of helping me rid the emotional “body baggage” I was carrying around, or I’m just maturing, or what.
    But I still hate my hair.

  2. Have you read “Curly Girl”? If not, Amazon is your friend. I just have wavy hair, so it’s not quite as much of an issue, but it seems like every beautiful curly-haired woman I have talked to can’t stop talking about how that book changed her life. It is the hair bible for how to tame your curly locks. Google it. Seriously.

  3. I second “Curly Girl” and naturally curly dot com. If any of my kids have curls, I will know how to deal with them!

  4. jealous.

    My hair is very curly, but soft, not coarse/wiry. I grew up in a pretty dry climate, so it was pretty manageable—(but I still fought it!) Now I live on the east coast, so with the humidity, it’s pretty much a futile fight. I haven’t been able to justify the cost of a keratin treatment for me. Yet. Hmmm…I might need a follow-up post from you!

  5. I had straight hair until I hit puberty. I had a perm (it was the 80′s)in the 6th grade and the curl never went away. Thank goodness it was the 80′s and big fluffy hair was the thing. I had friends who had really, really, big hair so mine looked calm by comparison. The older I get, or rather they greyer I get, the curly my hair. Mostly I have enjoyed my crazy hair. There has only been one time that it made me cry. It was the morning after I had it cut short. It was the worst morning hair ever!!!

    I try not to be disappointed with my body (and it’s nonconforming to the social norm ways). It has made life much easier and happier to be thankful for the body God gave me. I watch my young women struggle because their bodies don’t fit into the social norm in some way. It is crazy and unfair. They are each beautiful in their own way and I do my best to help them to know that.

    All of that being said, I hated by huge, saggy, grandma (literally from my grandma’s gene pool) bosoms. I recently had surgery and I have no regrets getting to buy a regular bra. :)

  6. I fought my curls, plus cowlicks forever. After having my 4 child, I found I liked my curls and haven’t fought them since. Wash and go for a few days…still looks great.

    Now I am fighting the grey hair, which I am not ready at all to embrace. Tried very hard to, but after seeing how old I looked, I ran to dye my hair back to its auburn luster.

  7. I feel sure that one of the lost books of scripture contains the saga of Cain and Abel’s sisters, one of whom had curly hair, and one who had straight, and the murderous envy that ensued…

  8. My thoughts exactly. I hate my hair. I’ve always envied girls who have hair that is straight and sleek and easy! Mine’s not. I have not conquered it. I don’t have enough time/motivation to try. Everyday it’s a wet ponytail straight from the shower. I don’t have any kind of hair-know-how to even know where to START to better my hair situation. I can flat iron it and make it pretty straight, but most days it’s just not worth the hour lost! So, it is was it is and I will always have the frizzy, straight from the shower ponytail that I hate but that has become a part of me! :)

  9. Huh. I have fine, straight hair, maybe the same kind everyone on here seems to envy only I have never been a fan of it. (I always look at the full body, curly hair other women have and feel envious.) I remember looking at a picture book of some angels with long curly hair when I was about five and realizing (with resignation) that my hair would NEVER do that so I would be an ugly angel someday. HA!

  10. My sister has beautiful, fine, silky straight hair. Mine . . . I only just figured out a few years back that my hair is technically wavy (and coarse and thick), not curly. (Which explained why the bad short hair cuts never did make my hair get curlier–apparently wavy hair takes on more defined curl the longer it gets). I’m finally at a stage where I get my hair–and I like it!

    Now, if I could only figure out what to do with the incoming gray hairs! (I’m pregnant, so dyeing it isn’t currently an option).

  11. You know all that time you were not loving your hair you were the envy of all of us girls with straighter-than-a-board hair who longed for curls, right? I have always found you to be lovely, Brooke, inside and out.

    Back to your post, I continue to be amused as I watch my daughter and her friends spend even more money and even more time trying to make their hair perfectly straight than I and my friends spent in search of the perfect curl. Is this just a girl thing? Why are we always so dissatisfied with ourselves and so sure that what someone else has is better? I ponder this often, as it seems to continue well on into womanhood.

    In any case, the messy-bun is still a no-brainer for me, but I also admit that as my hair has gone from dishwater blonde (such an unflattering name) to dark, DARK brown and from not-even-sleek straight to a nice wave (both were completely unexpected) in recent years, I am happy with my hair. Wish I had time and cash for a good cut, but I embrace the as-is, even the increasing grey. Bring it, I say. I earned them, every one.

    And, forgive me for the serious turn, but it just hit me. As I think on my MIL’s hair that is currently falling out in clumps due to chemo, and also as I look ahead to when my mother, who will be meeting with an oncologist next week, will inevitably lose hers, I realize I have even more for which to be grateful.

  12. Brooke, I have always been super jealous of your hair! Mine is so straight and boring. I always tell my husband that when I’m resurrected I will have blazing red curly hair.

    I can hardly wait.

    But I am coming to appreciate the fact that my hair styling most days (can’t skip washing more than one day when you have fine, straight hair. It gets super greasy and limp) consists of a blowdry, brush, little hair spray and go. It looks the same every dang day and I hate that.

  13. In seventh grade my hair reached my waist. It was a Rosana-Rosana-Dana triangular nightmare. I feel your pain. After 6 kids it’s now about 1/3 as thick and the curls are pretty inconsistent. And gray has a mind of its own. I grown to appreciate hats.

  14. Brooke! I always envied (and coveted) your gorgeous curls–even in elementary school! Call it irony or a cruel (and wonderful) twist of fate, but both of my girls are as curly as can be!

  15. I ironed my hair just like that! With a paper bag on it. I hated my curly hair, but I like it now. I also didn’t appreciate a nice shiny brown, went blond for awhile.

  16. If you love it, stick with it! I have two daughters with curly hair & each has a different curl from the other. The youngest has done the keratin treatment, twice, and it didn’t do anything for her (she wants straight-but then to curl it with a curling iron). Now we are on to chemically straightening it, which works, but her hair is so damaged, it just won’t grow to that long straight hair she wants so desperately, has broken off in so many places, and has never ending split ends. The oldest has found ways to love her curls and has discovered putting her wet hair in a towel & sleeping on it has helped keep her curls nice & soft. Curly hair is a huge battle!! I have wavy hair, but I have been doing my youngest’s hair everyday for her entire life-she is 15. I’m ready for her to learn to manage on her own, but I know how hard it is to handle myself, it will be even harder for her on her own.

    Dalene-:( sorry for your moms.

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