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Small Stones Day 23: Hair, Hair, Long Beautiful Hair...



 Today’s topic is hair. Hair is pretty important to most to us. We talk about our hair: bad hair days, flyaway hair, hair color, thinning hair, lack of hair, for many of us our hair is an integral part of who we are. Hair is part of what defines our personality.

We devote an inordinate amount of attention to our hair as a culture. Just watch t.v. or flip through a magazine and there are ads everywhere for shampoo, conditioners, hair color and bump-its. Appliances to tame our curls, to straighten our unruly locks, or add volume and shine.

I confess, I’ve had a love- hate relationship with my hair most of my life. Most days I love my hair, even if I don’t always like the way it behaves on a given day. When I was very young my hair  was fine, but abundant and much to my mother’s chagrin, straight as a board.

For some reason my hair became a bit of an obsession with my mother. Perhaps because her own hair was a disappointment to her. I remember hearing her mumble, fuss and cuss under her breath when her hair did not follow her commands to behave.

My mother seemed to take my lack of curl as personal and something she had to remedy by whatever means necessary. Therefore I was subjected to years of sleeping in pin curls (hair wrapped around two bobby pins to make a curl), hot hair dryers (the dreaded cap that did not fit on a small head, so my ears were scorched), and the worst indignity of all- the Toni perm.

To this day I can still see the little amber bowl of pink perm solution; a cotton ball soaking in this noxious mixture. I can feel the perm rods pulling my hair from the roots and the burning sensation of the chemicals on my tender scalp. I can see my brothers walking into the kitchen and making a gagging noise, holding their noses as they walked by. All of this suffering for three weeks, give or take, of curly hair.

For years I suffered through bad haircuts. “But a pixie is all the rage.”  ( It is of no matter that your head is the size of a watermelon and you now look like a boy!) And of course the famous last words after every bad haircut- “don’t worry, it will grow out before you know it.”

  Fat chance!

A funny thing happened after the years of forced curls and the perplexing assertion that I could not wear bangs; I finally embraced the straightness of my hair. I  had willingly subjected myself to perms for years beginning in the 80′s, partially because I got tired of curling my hair everyday. I also rebelled and wore bangs for many years in direct defiance to my mother! When I became pregnant with my second son I was done with perms. I stopped fighting against type and embraced my hair for what it was- straight and more red than blonde.

That was the next bold step- I went red. That was another form of denial for my mother. She did not want me to suffer from red-headed child syndrome. Oh, I wasn’t a carrot top, but my hair was a strawberry blonde. She was putting Sun-In and Frost and Tip on it from the moment I hit puberty and my hair naturally darkened to a mild shade of red.

When my oldest son was born he had a head full of strawberry colored hair. I was horrified- how did I end up with the red-head? His hair was gorgeous and it brought to mind my own pre-teen hair color. I was ready to “go back to my roots” but it took 12 years before I finally got up the nerve to go red.

The love-hate relationship with my hair is over. If it isn’t working well that day, I put it up and move on. I have experimented with the shades of red. I really love the attention- people do not forget a red-head!

Now, I watch my daughter’s love-hate relationship with her own hair. It’s thick and a gorgeous chestnut-brown with natural red highlights. Her hair has a little wave and a lot of body, but like most girls her age, she is locked in a constant battle with her hair. She forces it to lie straight and flat with her iron. She spends way too much time in the morning straightening and brushing her hair, but I guess it’s a rite of passage. I hope one day- and sooner than I did, she will learn love her hair.