“I once read an interview with a well-known actress who said that the thing she was proudest of was that she could blow-dry her own hair, and I was depressed for days afterward. I’m completely inept at blow-drying my own hair.”
I don’t understand what the big deal with hair is.
I once gave the hair thing a serious amount of thought. I even joined one of those online communities deadicated to “ethnic hair” care (i.e. black people). But the enthusiasm wasn’t there. I just can’t take my hair that seriously. After all, it’s hair.
My natural hair is coily and tightly packed. This is great for wearing cute hats in the winter but it doesn’t have the grace associated with the over-the-shoulder-flip or the flirty bangs. My hair is like me. It’s shy but, when called upon, very direct.
For some odd reason – I’m not sure where I picked up this notion – I felt that my natural hair was just not pretty. It was something I had to accept, like a genetic defect. To prettify my hair I spent hundreds of dollars every month getting my coiled hair relaxed.
The regular washing which for most people is lather, rinse, repeat, was an event. Saying “I can’t come because I have to wash my hair tonight” was, in my case, a plausible excuse.
It took several hours to wash, detangle the anemic but relaxed strands, and then sit inside a small stove for the better part of the evening.
Between shower and stove I had to make at least 15 decisions.
Would I wrap my hair? Wrap – a process that I never mastered. It involves using a large toothed brush to rub all the wet strands around your scalp until it looks like you are wearing a beenie made of human hair.
. . .
Or, if you’re like me and failed at wrap, then you spent at least an hour setting your hair on rollers. Then you wrap a thin scarf around your head and off to the furnace.
Of course you can pay someone to do this for you if you’re wealthy, which some people are. When I’m rich – you have to visualize it, Oprah says, and I believe just about anything she says…When I’m rich I’m sure I’ll be able to think of other things to do with my valuable time and hard-earned money. But, to each her own. To me, my curly hair. To others, beautiful sleek wind-blown tresses.
But, I’m just going to say that the average visit at the hairdresser costs at least 60 dollars where I live. We are in 2012. Inflation is a total mystery to me in terms of its mechanics but I do know that it generally goes up. So my brain refuses to visualize the kind of cash I would have to hand over to my hair dresser in 2030.
Hairdressing is not only costly, it’s complicated.
Because your hair is suffering from the pileous equivalent of acute anemia you don’t want to exercise it too much. You have to apply a heat resistant gel. How gel resists heat is a clever question but don’t ask it. Once you’ve applied the gel, you can decide to wrap or not to wrap.
Then you sit under the dryer and sweat. Your ass feels like it’s melting but just visualize how good you’re gonna look.
Once your hair has dried, you can enjoy the graceful silken wave for a week or so. That’s what everyone says but it’s not true.
At night, you will do your best to wrap your hair, in the impossible manner described before. You will go to bed thinking of how proud you are of your hair. You’ve become proficient at this personal grooming technique. It’s a skill, you tell yourself, even though it’s not on your resume. Then you will wake up in the morning and your hair will be all over the place. Even if you’re an olympian wrapper, you’ll probably have some strands that took really well to your pillow creases and bent in unintended directions.
. . .
Fixing your hair is a process that requires somewhere between 30 minutes and forever. Whenever I see people in the morning with perfectly made up hair and furious faces I feel it had to be the hair this morning.
And I felt like the hair regime was taking over every quarter of my life. Several decisions, which ostensibly had nothing to do with my hair, had something to do with my hair. Should I work out today? That depends. On? Whether I have time to wash and set my hair. How long should I work out? Enough to feel like I put effort into it but not enough to totally sweat out my hair because I may not have time to wash it. Should I wait for the rain to stop or run for it? Well, are you going to wash your hair right when you get home?
I’d like to learn how to swim? Yes, that’s a good idea but what about your hair? Wear one of those cute vintage swimming caps. You can probably find one on Etsy. Yes, but the water might seep in. It’s a risk.
I remember watching The Steve Harvey Show back in the 90s. There was this episode where Regina and Steve are at a party. Regina, the usually-uptight-principal of Booker T. Washington High, starts dancing like she has ticks. “I danced so hard, I think I’m about to sweat out my perm,” she says. Steve, the cool-dude-about-school and music teacher, replies. “Girl I got news for you. Your perm left on the midnight train to Georgia.” You could see that it went right through Regina. It hurt.
Yet, for a series of reasons related to the expressions “Life is short,” and “savings account,” I started to let my hair go up. I couldn’t let my hair down because, as you already know, it doesn’t do that unless I spend over a hundred dollars and 4 hours at the salon. So now my head was like a small unweeded garden. The roots grew robust, almost tumescent, in their rage to get out while the neglected permed tips cried out for some kind of attention, hydration, maintenance. Because I’m firm and not cruel, I cut them out of their misery.
And, just like that, something that had taken hours of my life was gone.
. . .
Of course now I have kinky hair. Or, to be precise, coily 4c type hair. My hair is what some hair dressers refer to as “the most challenging” type of curly hair. It is the rebel curl. It does not curl exactly. It bends in unexpended angles and packs tightly together.
Also, when left to its own devices, meaning no devices or gels at all, my hair shrinks to 1/4 of its actual length.
There is a plenty of talk about how wearing a perm destroys your natural hair follicles and may or not give you cancer. I’d always been able to ignore those articles. Therefore I can longer say I don’t understand why people keep smoking.
When I stopped caressing my perm, I thought about cancer. I also thought about it because I know some people who are suffering/ recovering form cancer. I felt doubly crazy to be going that crazy about my hair.
I also thought about whether I now looked like a dude but I’m not exactly proud of that…
With time you can stop thinking about almost anything.
Soon, I didn’t think about my hair anymore. Suddenly I could indulge in all kinds of activities at all kinds of hours. I could run whenever, whereever. I started running about 4 miles every other day. I’m svelte now. I can say this without any remorse or self-deprecation. I could dance, if I still went out at night. I could get caught in the rain. I could even intentionally walk under the rain. Because, no matter what I do, my hair will just bounce back into its curls. And it’s just lather, rinse, repeat for me now.
Every now and then I can straigthen my hair with a hot comb (once a year, just for New Year’s Eve) when I miss the longer tresses…
So, what I meant at the beginning is that I do understand the hair thing. But, I have other, more important vanities. Like…looking good in a bathing suit.