Sometimes It’s the Little Things—the Shallow, Ridiculous, Little Things

Can we talk about my hair for a minute? Because I really need to talk about my hair.

Growing up, I had very straight hair. My hair was SO straight, in fact, that when I tried to perm it (as every dumb young teen born in the ’70s did), it never held the curl very well. My hair had a hard time holding braids or curl from curling irons. My hair wouldn’t cooperate with teasing to make my bangs stick up (as every dumb young teen born in the ’70s did) nor would they “train” to sweep to one side or the other.

My hair was straight. Straight, straight, straight.

Then I had kids.

With every child—or maybe it was just every year—my hair seemed to get curlier.

See? Curly.

See? Curly.

It’s hard to tell in these not-so-flattering-or-high-quality photographs, but very few people actually take photos of me, so they’re the best I could do. If someone had a photo of the back of my head, you would agree that my hair fell somewhere between very wavy and lightly curly.

I was mad as hell about it too. I had finally seen the joy of straight hair and I was distraught that it had been taken from me. It is the single thing that I am angriest at my kids about. And they’ve broken a lot of my stuff, so that’s saying something.

I inquired at hair salons over the years about various straightening techniques, but no one seemed to think it would work on my hair or the techniques cost $500 and lasted for three months, which was a higher percentage of my family’s yearly income than I was willing to spend on my hair.

I tried to embrace the curls.

Embracing said curls would have been easier had I had better curls. A mix between very wavy and lightly curly isn’t awesome, especially when the hair at the very front of my head, which would probably be my bangs if I had them, was actually mostly straight. (Which is similar to “mostly dead,” but worse.)

I got to thinking about hair straightening again last fall when a friend of mine was posting on Facebook whilst getting a Japanese hair straightening treatment. This is something that she regularly has done. I have seen her hair and it is really pretty. Naturally, I was intrigued.

In addition to re-piquing my interest, she had a guy. This guy would do the straightening for $300 and claimed that it lasted six months.

I did some quick calculations in my head and determined that if I eliminated things like the vegetables I put in front of my kids and then threw away, I would feel comfortable spending $600 annually so that I could feel content about the state of my head again.

I had to drive to Virginia the day after the last presidential election (I remember, because most of the people who wandered through that shop—which was basically a strip mall barber shop but for the amazing guy working on me—were NOT pleased with the election results), but it was worth it. My hair was soft. My hair was beautiful. My hair was straight.

I spent the next several days executing dramatic hair flips whenever possible.

I also spent the next several days not washing my hair or putting it in a ponytail, which made the hair flips less pleasant than they could have been, but MY HAIR WAS STRAIGHT SO WHO CARES?

The first time I washed it, I was afraid that the curls would spring back. The first time I put it in a ponytail, I worried that I would be left with a permanent ponytail elastic bump. After three months, I started to look for signs of returning waves.

Every time, my hair stayed straight.

Eventually six months passed and my hair was still straight. I thought about making an appointment for a touch-up, but that seemed absurd, considering that MY HAIR WAS STRAIGHT.

Through all of this, my hair was getting longer and longer. When I got it cut a couple of weeks ago, I was worried that the removal of the weight of all the hair that I left at the salon would allow latent curls to spring back up.

(I was also worried that the change in my hair would alert my stylist to the fact that I’d cheated on her, but when you only show up every 9-12 months, evidently stylists don’t remember your hair texture.)

You guys. It has been eight months—NovemberDecemberJanuaryFebruary MarchAprilMayJune—eight solid months.

This was my hair this afternoon after I washed it, wet-combed it, and let it air dry:

All the worry about my hair has ironically given me gray hair.

Ironically, all the worry about my hair has given me gray hair.*

People. My hair has been scared straight.

I have no idea what kind of voodoo that guy in Virginia did to my hair follicles, but they produce straight hair now. For all I know, there is a painting of me hanging in an attic over that hair salon and its hair curls more every day. I don’t care.

I know that one day I will wake up and some terrible hair tragedy will have befallen me (Perma-frizz? Curly roots? A comb-over? Bangs?) but that’s cool. Because it will have been worth it.

Also, I completely accept my shallowness (shallowosity?) in re: the hair issue. That’s okay. Sometimes it’s okay to be shallow.

* That is a lie. I have had that streak of gray hair since 1997. Lucky me.

Edited to add: This is the guy: His name is Jian. He is my favorite person.

43 thoughts on “Sometimes It’s the Little Things—the Shallow, Ridiculous, Little Things

  1. I just bought a train ticket to your house. Take me to this voodoo hair guy and make mine look like yours. I have fought the curls and lost since 1976.

    This humidity has put me over the edge. I have dreamt about the Japanese straightening for years. Take me to your leader.

  2. Congratulations on your lack of frizz! The $300 savings is pretty cool too. But the gray streak has me intrigued because of the time frame. I hope I didn’t have anything to do with it. LOL! You look great, BTW!

    • Ha! The last thing you could ever do is give me gray hair. I’m going to have to pin that on either Alex or genetics. Or maybe both.

  3. What is the voodoo guy’s number?! It would be worth the price of a plane ticket to go there. My hair is terrible…especially this time of year. I have permanent “Monica” hair right now. I need the voodoo magic!!!

    • It really might just be. I could start my own little business—putting people up in my house and driving them to the voodoo guy.

  4. I thought you DID have straight hair. I mean, compared to mine anyway! I still look like I have an 80s perm and teased bangs no matter what I do. Sigh.

    • It’s funny, because you are right next to me in one of the curly photos in this post and I spent some time looking at your pretty hair before I cropped you out. You have nice curls.

  5. Your hair looks great! And? I need to meet your hair guy! I also had super straight hair when I was a teen (permed three times within 2 weeks due to the curls continuing to fall out each time when I was in 7th grade), and then after kids? Frizzy waves. Ugh.

    I’d be happier with the waves if they were actual curls. Curls I could do something with. Frizzy waves? Not as much. I’m like *this close* to trying the sock bun YouTube trick to get loose curls. Only I know I’d screw it up somehow, cause I’m not so skilled with beauty tricks. But scaring my hair straight again? That would be amazing!

  6. The Japanese hair straightening treatment you write of…a sham I say!!! Being of Japanese heritage my hair should be a testament to this treatment yet here I sit with wirey, pokey, albeit straight hair. What I wouldn’t give for a few curls or waves. *sigh*

    That being said…I am happy for you and how absolutely maaaaaahhhvalous you look dahhhlink! :D

  7. I don’t think I every thought of you as having wavy or curly hair. But then I see you, what, once a year? You always look beautiful to me, but in your “now” photo you’re a bombshell!!

  8. Unicorn placenta. That is the secret ingredient.

    And tears of orphaned one legged kittens.

    That is the only explanation.

    (so jealous… I bought one of those stupid straightener brush things – instyler – and now sporting a burn on my forehead.)

    • Unicorn placenta and kitten tears smell terrible when mixed together, heated, and slathered on hair. But worth it.

  9. The last time I went to get my hair cut I had a trainee working on it. When she saw me she looked like she was going to cry and run away. As she attempted to hack into my head of the curliest frizziest wire wool she’d ever seen, her hands were shaking. Honestly. I thought she was going to faint with fear. She called her supervisor over after every tiny snip, just to make sure she was doing it right. She wasn’t by the way. It took about a week. When I got home no one noticed I’d had it cut.
    I LONG for straight hair. Japanese or otherwise. Your’s looks amazing.

    • Oh my lord. Never go with the trainee. Once I had a stylist who was complaining to her friend as she cut my hair about how she had gotten no sleep the night before and was feeling shaky. It worried me.

  10. Wow! If the magical hair place is anywhere near Alexandria I’m going the next time we visit my less-than-magical in-laws. That way, I’ll have a good excuse to avoid them for a few hours. Please tell me the hair treatment takes a few hours!

  11. Your hair looks incredible and your face has always been gorgeous but OMG you are so chiseled and defined and slender. Not only do I need your hair, I need your will power! xoxo

    • You always make me feel so happy. I think you have my will power and then some—have you seen your body lately? Super hot!

  12. Hi, That layered cut looks great!
    I had similar failed efforts to follow trends that didn’t suit my hair type. I did have the perfect Dorothy Hamill style, when that was popular. My current style works for me, just longer or shorter to avoid boredom.
    One bit of advice: Don’t change your hair color, unless the grey *really* starts to bother you. Color takes forever to grow out!
    I won’t say how much I’ve spent at the salon – initially just for a change, and now to maintain my original color. Though, I love the salon & stylist that I see. :)

  13. My hair went curly, too. And it was so straight, I kept it pretty short for most of my growing up. I’ll wait to fix it when I lose that 100 pounds I’ve been trying to lose.

    This might take a while.

    • I am SO pleased that you want a follow up. I was just talking to someone the other day about how happy I am that my hair is straight now. I have found that eventually my hair starts to get wavy again. I go to get it restraightened every fall. So I have one long hair appointment once a year and then my hair is straight all the time. It is my favorite thing ever.

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