I live in the South. It’s summer. That means humidity. Not the sexy, glistening, sweaty iced tea glass between your breasts, fanning yourself while on the front porch wearing a sundress kind of humidity. I have naturally curly hair. In all my 39 years I have NEVER looked forward to summer in the south. Or summer in general. There are too many chance encounters with water for my tastes.
Take for example this one time my best friend and I went to a college party. There was a pool. We jumped in- with our clothes on. (We weren’t drinking, for the record. We were just silly.) It felt liberating. Until I thought… “Oh crap! What about my hair?!” Luckily we got out of there before it dried completely. I left the cute boy in the middle of the living room totally enamored with this soaking wet girl with a head full of dripping curls. So long, sucker!
My hair and I have always had a love/hate relationship. It has a life of it’s own. Sometimes it’s own zip code. Some days it can look fantastic and I’m so thankful to be a curly girl. But most of the time I’m left looking enviously at other women who can shower in the morning. Yeah, women with curly hair can’t do that. At least, they can’t get their hair wet. Okay, they can get their hair wet but they can’t have any morning meetings they have to attend or jobs they have to be on time for. Fuck exercising. You just have to resign yourself to rocking a sweaty pony tail the rest of the day, walking around with wet hair, or putting so much product in your hair after a shower that it’s hard to move your head at all lest you break off a whole section of it.
And this is where the guilt comes in. God blessed me with these curls. Lots of people want them. Or so I’ve been told. My mother included. She has baby fine, straight hair. When shopping for stylists to do my wedding day hair, one in particular looked exasperated as he clutched handfuls of curls as if he didn’t know where to begin. “Yeah, I know.” said my mother… “I gave birth to that.” At that moment I pictured my mom as a smooth, sleek Nala looking at me, her Simba, with a full, unruly mane and shaking her head. Turning to her, my stylist replied, “How is that even possible?”. I don’t know. I always wished I could share the wealth.
But I can’t. For years I was unhappy with hair cuts. I was tired of coming home from the salon crying so I declared a truce and didn’t go back. My new husband cut my hair for years. It was all one length and long- it wasn’t that complicated. And curls hide a lot of imperfections so it was a perfect arrangement. Until I realized I might want to retire my scrunchies and might actually want a little bit of style.This is where the quest for the perfect hair began. I heard about a certain type of cut developed by a woman named Ouidad. The closest salon who had stylists trained by Ouidad herself was 3 hours away and cost $300. It was around my birthday so I gave a present to myself. While there, I found out that they had clients that flew in from California to get the special cut. CALIFORNIA!! That’s how insane us curly girls are in our pursuit for hair perfection! The cut was good and and the resulting curl was transcendent, but something was still missing.
In the subsequent years I had discovered smoothing products, flat irons, thermal protectors, Oscar Blandi’s Olio di Jasmine Hair Serum which smells like what I imagine Ryan Gosling would smell like if melted down so naturally I’m addicted to it and wish I could eat it. I’m pretty okay with my hair IF it’s winter, a precipitation free day and a day when I’ve got an hour and a half to devote to washing, blow drying and ironing my hair. Did I mention that I’m a mom and have just recently started my own business?
And need I remind you that it’s almost summer? Yeah, so for the past two weeks it’s been cloudy with a chance of showers around here every day. Or to put in in my hair’s terms, curly with a chance that it will eat my face. The only choice lately has been to pull it back into a puff ball. Not cute. I was done. And luckily business has been good so I decided to treat myself.
I’ve heard about the keratin treatment (Brazilian Blowout is one kind, but not the kind I received.) and thought I would go for it. My normal (awesome) stylist doesn’t do it, but the miracle worker 2 stalls down does. An appointment was made. I showed up. And it was easy. She washed my hair. She combed the treatment through every strand. It was very relaxing- in every way! Then, after sitting for a bit, she blow dried it and flat ironed it to set the treatment. Then she washed it again and this is when I realized she had actually performed magic. She blow dried it again but this time it only took 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES! And it wasn’t frizzy. She hit it with the flat iron in a couple of spots for good measure, but it was completely done and I was able to walk out of the door in 15 minutes. Insanity! It was like I had new hair. It was soft and smooth and shiny. It rained that afternoon and I went on the porch to “watch lightening” with my son. I was really testing the limits of this treatment. And it passed! No frizz! I even stuck my head in the dishwasher after it was done running. I opened the door and steam poured out. I put my head in thinking my hair would surely absorb all this moisture and double, even triple, in size. But no, my locks held strong.
I feel ridiculous for being so giddy over hair. But, for the first time EVER I actually was able to brush it while it was dry. You don’t even understand. Before, I would never even look at a brush. I didn’t want to anger my hair. But today, I seized a brush in my hands, steeled myself and ran it through my strands. To my surprise, there was no revolt! No rebellion! Just submission and lovely locks that just responded amicably and laid there afterwards completely happy and glowing. Damn! Maybe I don’t have to fight my hair after all. What a revelation!
After the keratin treatment I asked the stylist if I could hug her. I don’t know if she even knew why or how much what she had done meant to me. Of course she agreed and I hugged her as tight as I could without being that creepy client you might need a restraining order against. I’ve always felt like I should like my hair because that’s what God gave me. And there were times when I absolutely loved it and wouldn’t have traded it for anything. But most of the time it’s been a pain in the ass. Hopefully not anymore. I’ve been told that when I air dry it, it will still curl but won’t be unruly. I’m looking forward to that. It’s not the curl I hate, it’s the unpredictability. I’ve surrendered a lot of days to a baseball hat and a pony holder. Hopefully those days will decrease. I’m not giving them up completely because my husband thinks it’s sexy. Even more so than a southern belle on a porch in the middle of July. Hallelujah!!