Friday, August 3, 2012

Curl Power: A Ringlet Manifesto

I don't know how you feel about your hair, but for most of my life I have had a love-hate relationship with my curls. When I was younger, I desperately wanted straight Marcia Brady hair. Alas, that was not to be. My nickname as a toddler was "springs" just to give you some indication of just what I was dealing with. No amount of blow drying, straightening, and sewer-pipe curlers could take out what God put in, especially after gym class on a warm rainy day.

Then, in the Big Hair 80s, I had it made. I had exactly what everyone else was paying someone to do to their hair. I actually rediscovered (since I hadn't sported springs since toddlerhood) my hair's true curliness by accident, caught in a rain storm after a Styx concern (yes, I said Styx) and unable to find the car. As my hair dried on the eventual drive home without the aid of any straightening accessories, ringlets began to form all over my head. And that was all she wrote. I was sold.  It was even better when I became the lead singer in a rock band because big hair was sort of a requirement back then.

Although I've mostly worn my hair curly as an adult, there have been times when I've tried to straighten it or loosen it. And there have been many, many days when I've just flat out hated it. Often times other people unknowingly reinforced my feelings by suggesting I straighten my curls or do something to get them under control, thereby implying that wearing them natural was unacceptable, at least in polite society.

Recently though I made a decision to embrace my curls again and for good. After trying out a semi-straight short hairstyle that required either Keratin treatment or flat ironing, I realized I missed my curls. That's a major realization for someone like me. In fact, when I decided I wanted to go back to my naturally curly hair I was devastated to find that the Keratin had left portions of it unable to curl. I was in a curl-less panic. I think that's when I had my Aha! Curly Moment. I never had to doubt my curls before, and, suddenly, as I stared at lifeless strands in the mirror, it was as though someone had taken away a piece of my identity. Fortunately, with regrowth, the curls came back with their usual bouncy, springy, insanely cork-screwy personality.

I think all of this has something to do with the Big 5-0 looming out there in less than two months. As I approach this half-century milestone, I find myself reassessing things, and my hair is one of them. To pull out my curls is like hiding a part of my true self, and I want to embrace all of my true self. Despite what others may think (and, surprisingly, sometimes say to my face) I actually like it when my hair is a little tipsy, verging on wild, and pushing the hair envelope. It's like my personality coming out through my hair follicles.

I am as unpredictable and funky and mysterious as the crazy curls I am blessed to have popping out in all directions. After 50 years of battling my springs, to finally see them as a blessing is truly a revelation to me. A glorious curly, sometimes frizzy revelation. Sure, I'll still get annoyed when it's August and 150 percent humidity and my hair takes on a life of its own, but, hey, straight-haired people have their own bad hair days, so who am I to skirt that issue.

So if you see me bouncing along, curls askew, rest assured that my hair is supposed to look that way, not because it's the latest fashion, not because I'm trying to please someone else, but because for once, finally, and I hope forever, I love my curls, and, in this particular matter, I'm the only one who counts. Curl power.

Feel free to show your hair some love in the comment section. Unleash your true self -- curly, straight, wavy, whatever. You are perfect just as you are.


arlene said...

Mary, your hair is lovely. I wish I had not cut my curls off years ago. Now growing them back scares the living hell out of my children. Keep it curly sister

Mary DeTurris Poust said...

I'm in the growing in stage right now, and it's rough.
I was thinking when I saw you last night how beautiful you look with your short hair style. You rock that look!

Fran said...

Mary! I love this!

Oh I hated my own curly hair as a kid, a few years (OK, five years) ahead of you in the history of hair dos.

I have spent most of my life blow-drying and straightening my hair, but now I try to let it go.

Sadly, my curls are not as tight as yours and they are strangely getting straighter. It is some kind of cruel joke, along the lines of "you had your chance!"

In any case, I find that the biggest thing about aging gracefully (if that is what I am doing!) is that even my half curly hair, left to its own devices, is fine by me.

You be you Mary! And love that hair!!

Mary DeTurris Poust said...

With each pregnancy, I lost a little of the curl near my neckline. So I definitely understand the whole changing hair landscape that comes with various stages of life.
I thought of you when I wrote this post since I see you as a fellow Curly Girl. :-)
Power to the curl. (Say that with your fist raised in the air defiantly.)

Jean said...

can I love, love, love this post even though my hair is annoyingly pin straight? ;-)