Every six months or so, I become obsessed with the idea of straightening out my hair.
I have gone through straightening creams to the latest flat iron devices in an attempt to achieve that sleek, straight style that has been so popular for the last few years.
Sometimes I have been very successful in my pursuit for curl-free locks. By adding just an hour or so of daily work to my hair routine, I can get my hair to straighten out for about 20 minutes. That seems to be the magical time. After 20 minutes, no matter what straightening regimen I employ, I inevitably feel the boing, boing, boing of my curls bouncing back into place
Growing up with curly hair was always a challenge. All the older women in my life told me how grateful I should be for my locks. They told me how thankful I would be in the future when I did not have to go to the “beauty parlor” once a week for a set. What they did not get was that at that time in my life, the Shirley Temple look was not a great guy grabber. I wanted to get the cute guy. I wasn’t worried about getting my hair done in my twilight years.
Every important event in my life was met with “Please, don’t let it rain or be muggy!” I didn’t care if I got wet; I just cared what the weather would do to my hair. Would I be able to keep it in place for that special dance or prom or was I going to look like Bozo the Clown on steroids? As I look back, I cannot believe that I picked the end of August to get married. That was just begging for trouble, and as it turned out, my wedding day was 98 degrees in the shade. No one to blame for that one except me. Luckily, a can of hairspray kept my hair in line at least through the ceremony. I might have damaged the ozone layer that day with the amount of aerosol spray I let into the atmosphere, but something had to give, and it was not going to be my hair.
Am I at all grateful for my hair? Sure. As my husband reminds me, it is better to have my hair than no hair – well, most of the time. To be grateful for my hair means that I have enjoyed the sarcastic comments of my family, friends, college roommates, husband and anyone else who through the years have had the pleasure of seeing me in the morning before I’ve had a chance to wet down my unruly mop.
It is for this lifetime of hair hell that I say emphatically, “I want straight hair!” I want hair that I can put up in a pony tail or an elegant bun. I want hair that doesn’t need an hour-long blow drying session. I want to be able to air dry my hair without my head looking as if it’s wearing a box of frizzy Brillo pads on my head.
I know that many of you are saying that I am a shallow person for worrying about something as minor as hair. And the mature person in me agrees with this. But it’s the childish side which reigns when it comes to matters of the hair. But I’m not the only one who feels this way. The hair care industry is booming. Countless numbers of men and women spend billions of dollars a year on shampoos, styling gels and conditioners. We all want our hair to look great. It’s one of the first things people notice, and it’s one of the first things they criticize. I try product after product. I fall for every commercial that shows shiny, luxurious straight hair. I even buy the products for curly, frizz-free hair, but the result is temporary at best.
Even my dear husband and daughter poke fun at my hair. They refer to my head as “The Bird’s Nest”.
Being the good sport I am, I laugh at the jokes, and I nod in agreement when I hear my husband say, “It’s just hair. What’s the big deal? Look at me. Am I worried about my hair?”
To his credit, he does not worry even though erosion has hit the top of his scalp. Rumor has it that his hair line isn’t in the exact same place it was 15 years ago. But being the practical guy he is, he just throws up his arms and says, “That’s how I’m made. That’s how I’m staying.”
I would love to be able to accept my hair this way. For the most part I try, but then a new product comes along, and I have to give it a shot. A few years back, I tried this revolutionary hair treatment that promised to kill all curls. I spent $70 and two hours of my time sitting in a salon chair with chemicals that smelled a lot like bathroom cleaner oozing into my scalp. Yes, the stuff killed the curl — for two days. After the two days, the curl came back curlier than ever. It was as if my head lashed out in vengeance at me for putting it through that torment.
After that experiment, I begrudgingly accepted my fate. Now, I sit back and watch with envy women who possess long, flowing hair. I know I will never have good beach hair or hair that could survive a ride in a convertible. I would love to be able to wear a baseball cap or visor without the hair on the sides of my head bushing out four feet from my scalp, but alas, these trivial life events will never be part of my experience. I have faced the truth and that is that my curly hair is here to stay.