Monthly Archives: May 2016
Posted by wendiwendy
It’s almost summer, and that means dealing with humidity and frizz for those of us with curly hair. In light of that, I thought I’d repost this entry from 2013 (with an updated final photo that’s more current).
I’m also considering a fairly short haircut for the summer, thanks to this inspiration:
I think my face is a similar shape to the girl in the white tank, and I could probably pull it off. We’ll see.
* * *
In 1976, I was 12 years old. I had a head full of wild brown curls and a body full of hormones that were wreaking havoc on said hair. All the magazines I read gave advice on how to care for your hair, but they assumed that everyone had stick-straight tresses. Following their advice, I would brush my hair over and over to make it sleek and shiny. Instead, I ended up with this:
Later that year, Farrah Fawcett’s famous red swimsuit poster came out. It was everywhere. There she was, in poster-sized glory, with her gleaming smile and those lush, voluptuous…feathered bangs. While all the boys studied other aspects of the poster, all the girls were asking, “How can I get that hair?!”
Pretty soon, just about everyone in school had feathered hair. You couldn’t walk ten feet without seeing somebody whip out a comb from their back pocket and run it through their hair, which would ripple and settle into a beautiful feathered pattern.
I was in 7th grade that year, just starting junior high at a brand new school. I was desperate to fit in, and I begged my mom to take me for a feathered-hair haircut. I think I vaguely remember the hair stylist telling me that she wasn’t sure my hair would cooperate, but I was young and naïve. If you just got the right hair cut, your hair would look like the hair in the picture…right?
Um….wrong. Here’s my class photo:
I ended up with wings. I could take flight with the things sticking out of the sides of my head. It was the first truly disappointing and embarrassing hair moment of my life, and I had to go through a whole school year like that.
By the time I reached high school, my hair was growing out and I was learning to use a curling iron to straighten it. (Yes, young whippersnappers, they didn’t have flat irons back then.) Instead of curling my hair around the curling iron barrel, I would snap the barrel over my hair near my scalp and then slide it straight down to straighten it. After going through my whole head of hair to straighten it this way, I would go back and curl the sides back in a big flip. It was the closest I could get to the feathered hair effect.
Since my hair was so curly, if it was humid my hair would immediately begin to curl and lose the shape I had worked so hard to achieve. Forty-five minutes of hair styling could be undone by a five minute walk outdoors in the humid summer weather. I bought a portable curling iron as my weapon against humidity, and I kept it in my purse all the time. You pulled the top of it and a plug would magically pop out of the base. In between just about every class, I would stop off in the bathroom, pull out my curling iron, plug it in and fix my hair. After my friends and I went out for a walk around the neighborhood, I’d stop back in their bathroom to fix my hair. I probably spent more than half my day trying to keep my hair straight and feathered.
Here’s hunch-shouldered photographic evidence of my hard work, circa 1980:
In my junior year of high school, something magical happened. Curly hair started to be popular, and people were getting perms. Perms! I wanted to embrace this new hair movement, but I was still absolutely clueless about taking care of curly hair. I had clued in to the fact that you never, ever use a brush on curly hair (I used picks) but I had no idea how to use hair products to help tame my curls. In their natural state, my curls were still unruly and not uniform – definitely not a pretty sight.
By now, my mom was working as a hair stylist and she came up with a way to give me a perm that wasn’t a full perm (since I already had some curl). I’m not sure what voodoo she worked but I think it involved a shorter processing time, and maybe she used less of the chemicals. The end result was magical. I had uniform curls, all over my head. No longer did I have a curl spinning in one direction away from the others, or a section of my hair that was merely wavy and not curly.
Behold the hairstyle I rocked for many years, starting in 1981:
Finally I was free of the straight-hair envy I’d been fighting for so long. I totally embraced my curly hair, and even when perms fell out of fashion and straight hair came back, I stuck with my curls. I was older and wiser, and happy to be different from most other people hairstyle-wise. I felt so much freedom compared to my days of spending over an hour doing my hair. I had discovered hair products that helped keep my curls in check, and doing my hair now took all of 10 minutes.
After I had my first baby, my hormones once again went wild and my hair became much more curly…so much so that I no longer needed the ‘light’ perms. My hair was doing naturally what I used to need a chemical to achieve.
I haven’t straightened my hair since I was 19. It took a while, but I learned to embrace what God gave me and not fight it. I’m proud to be a curly girl!