When I was born, my hair was black.
Later on, my hair became brown with blonde highlights, and was wavy and fine. My mom always did my hair, hand twirling it into ringlets and other cutesy styles as soon as it was long enough.
I only vaguely remember my hair being like this. I didn’t try combing it myself until much later, which ended up with not knowing what to do during science camp in fourth grade and letting it do whatever it wanted. Little did I know that would be the easy time period.
As soon as I turned twelve or thirteen, my hair turned into the corkscrew-ridden, poofy and endless volume hair it is today. I didn’t wear my hair down much, I learned to soak it completely, and pull it into a ponytail or a parrot-shaped blue clip that I loved.
I can’t say that I’ve ever hated my hair, but I was certainly jealous of the different hairstyles that other girls who had straight hair could pull off, especially being able to wear it down every day. Every fashion magazine I read either had curly hair cut very short, or no girls with curly hair at all. Every hair cut I got was cut too short, or cut incorrectly. I brushed and shampooed my hair into oblivion, dealing with endless tangles, clouds of frizz, and no products that worked like they should.
The few times I wore my hair down in my younger years, I faced ridicule. I wore my hair down on a trip to Alcatraz, and after the wind on the boat was done with it, it was what others deemed to be a hot mess. An awful, frizz-filled photo of me from that trip was placed on the board in our religion classroom a few years later, just out of my reach and sat there taunting me while others looked at it and laughed. There are several memories I have of being teased for my hair, including the fact that it retains its shape after it’s been up, and having the ‘glued down neat’ appearance it always did. I tried straightening my hair for special occasions, and while I always got lots of compliments when it was straight, it never looked just right…or felt just right.
On graduation day, I chopped a good portion of it off, my sister cutting it in the kitchen at my house, adding layers I’d never had before. It was the beginning of a journey that I’d continue on to figure out how to deal with this part of me that would never change.
Over the years I continued trying to find people who could cut my hair well. I had a couple of good haircuts, and then one that used thinning shears which took a few years to recover from. I’d go a year between haircuts afraid to let someone even touch it. I went through a variety of different styling products, some for ‘white’ hair, some for ‘black hair’, none actually striking the balance I needed. Ones that worked well at the time were often discontinued. Looks and beauty may be only skin-deep, but I wanted to be happy with what I looked at in the mirror. I wanted my hair to be what I wanted.
Fast forward to about two months ago. I had heard about Ouidad and other curly-hair specialists before, but hadn’t had the opportunity to have my hair cut by one. Intrigued at possibly finding the solution I needed, I made an appointment, which was supremely difficult to schedule as they were booked at least four weekends in advance from the time I called. When the day finally came, I sat nervously waiting for my stylist, reading a book on my phone.
Saffron Salon in Napa is the closest Ouidad-certified salon to my house. Suzy introduced herself to me, and we got started. I admit to having a slight panic when she mentioned thinning out the “bulk” in my hair, but I decided to trust and not say anything, as I was trying it out to get a cut from a curly-hair specialist. I couldn’t have been more right to do so.
I spent the better part of four hours there, but it was worth it. By the time I left, I’d had a deep-conditioning treatment, had my hair washed and conditioned, then cut and styled. I couldn’t believe my hair could look the way it did when I walked out of the salon. My hair was in perfect, soft, not frizzy ringlets, had enough volume but not too much, and even the curliest part was well-behaved.
I’ll admit that I don’t style it exactly with the “rake and shake” technique that I learned that day, and I’m still trying to train my head out of wanting to part to the side like I’ve done for six years now. But I am amazed at what a little understanding did for me to treat my hair a little better. It may be mostly for looks, but my hair is a part of me and should be treated well and kept healthy, just like the rest of me. Trying to change what it is doesn’t help me much.
Today, I appreciate my curly hair. It fits my personality and my character (not to mention my face) and now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you had hair/beauty woes about something you couldn’t change? How did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments.