Monday, July 9, 2012

Curly Hair: Fight On..or Surrender

I was a bald egghead of a baby, so bereft of hair that my mother sewed a bow into the wisp I'd acquired by my first birthday. Sounds dangerous to me, but they didn't have car seats back then either. At four, I had a mass of silken strawberry-blond curls. But around seven, those glossy ringlets were replaced by strange-unwelcome-interloper hair: thick, wiry, auburn and unruly.

By adolescence, pony tails offered the promise of salvation. My best friend had a sleek blonde and barretted version. Sadly, they made no barrettes big and strong enough to contain my wild mane; I used industrial strength rubber bands. And I wore bangs, a crimped fringe to which my mother applied Jo-Cur styling lotion, a concoction with the consistency of snot, then bound them under a smooth faille band. Eventually they dried and emerged a sheet of shiny perfection. Which, of course crinkled as soon as I frowned or a speck of humidity made contact. That's when I started having my hair straightened at a salon called Ollie's where they used a thick cream that singed your scalp a bit, but sent you on your way sleek and sassy with confidence. You could walk through a thunderstorm and your hair stayed straight until the tiny nasty wavelets grew back.

In college, the requisite stick straight hair took more discipline than even Ollie's could apply. My roommate ironed it smooth or I set it with cans that once held frozen orange juice. Miserable, I considered switching my major to theatre where they worshipped Bernadette Peters. Then to the rescue, hot rollers and eventually the curling iron and straightening rod. But most important, at a low point in my life, fabulous Hasan entered. My hairdresser is Turkish with arms of steel and a will of iron He wields his dryer, a portable inferno, like a weapon as he pulls and tugs the enemy into submission. And now, midlife, I love my hair! (At east until the next home shampoo.) Nightly, I pray Hasan will outlive me.

A friend with similar hair has let it go wild, back to its primitive roots. Her attitude,"I've finally surrendered to my hair," is very serene, very noble. Well, good for her. But I'm not throwing in the towel yet. For me this is a fight to the death. And if there's something to be said for death , it's that if I check out with smooth, straight hair, I know it will hold forever.

A character in one of my books--recently written-- is half Asian/half-Caucasian, I gave her super shiny straight dark hair, a cinch to manage. They say writers should draw from their own experiences, but I wanted to vicariously enjoy an experience I never had.

I've heard so many women say, "If my hair looks good, I look good." Are you satisfied/frustrated with your hair? Do tell. Let's let our hair down!


  1. Love your blog header. Very cool. And I love the idea for this blog.

    I can identify w/ the curly hair. I ironed my hair when I was a teenager and I still put stuff on it to straighten it and blow it dry. I think very few women love the hair they've got.

    Question--why did you put three blog posts up at the same time? It may keep people from reading the earlier ones.

    1. Thanks. I had your concern. However, I was told by my web designer that people get frustrated if they read a post,want to read more and there's nothing else on board.

    2. I had my first of the onromancewriting blogs up for a few days, then had another post at the end of the week. then one today. I'm now going to once a week, I think. But I wanted a few under my belt before I left for RWA in a couple of weeks.

  2. Until flat irons came along I had a constant case of the frizzies and always hated my hair. Now, in midlife, I can finally keep it under control and am happy with it for the very first time. Nice to have lived long enough for technology to have solved a vexing problem :-)

  3. Have you seen Brave? Everybody wants Merida's wild mane - you're in style and don't even know it.

    Love the banner. Congrats on this new venture!

  4. My curls were in style during the seventies, Willa. And I went natural by using some gel product and not even blow drying. It was liberating and certainly reflected the trend, but it just wasn't "me." Funny how we all have these idealized images of ourselves. I love the spiral curl look on some of my friends, but I feel it just doesn't work with my personality. At the beach, tho, I let it go wild. No fighting that humidity!

  5. My son is part African American and part Caucasian, so he has beautiful, loose curls that would be heavenly on a girl. As a child he hated hair and always made me cut them off, very short. But now that he can grow a nice beard, he lets his curls show. The are soft and silky and everyone loves them. Having pin straight hair myself (that I've let go natural in color, too - silver white), I envy those lovely curls (somewhat wasted on a boy?). I wish all females with curly hair would appreciate what they have more than they seem to.

    Love your blog.


  6. My mom fought my curls for years, then finally had the hairdresser cut it ugly short. First chance I got I grew it out and now have curls down my back. Just this past year, my Mom discovered modern styling gel and now has shoulder legnth hair. Who says parents don't learn from there children. BTW, my teenage girl inherited the same curls and is growing them long. I've switched to her styling gel. Embrace the curl!

  7. Thanks for your comments Elizaebth and alkaplan...maybe there's hope for me yet. Styling gel is my salvation at the beach. Fights the fuzzy look.

    I'd love to grow it to shoulder length, but my hair seems to expand out (as in "wide") before it grows down. And the middle stage-when it's halfway between ears and neck--is really purgatory. That's when I get impatient, throw in the towel and have Hasan get out the scissors.

  8. I did the ironing back in college, too. Not much helped my curly hair. Remember on my honeymoon, my hair's tight ringlets made me look like a French Poodle. However, here in Midlife I've been embracing the curl along with the help of some new products. There's a whole line of haircare called Deva Curl--recommended by my cute curly haired daughter-in-law. Also, love what the Wen products do for my hair. And when the power was out last week, I could wash it in the cold water and just let it dry. Definitely an advantage.

  9. I wonder if Joan Baez or Mary Travers had to do any of the things we had to do to look like them!
    I developed many techniques - Yes, OJ cans, but also aluminum foil rolls, cut to length ( held up better than toilet paper ones).
    We added beer to the wet hair, and then rolled and waited for it to dry.
    We should acknowledge and pay significant homage to the inventor of the personal hair dryer...the hand held was the major advance, along with the round brush. Where is the Hall of Fame for these folks who contributed important advances to the lives of women - and some men, I might add.