Sunday, June 01, 2008 10:04 PM

Snip snip

This was the way I've had my hair for at least the last 15 years - thick, curly, and as long as I could grow it. It's been described as big, fluffy, and the more humid it gets, the bigger it gets. Sort of a hair-barometer. Sometimes I had bangs, sometimes layers, sometimes not. I wanted long flowing hair so that I could do fun stuff with it. I used to even be able at one time to do a 5-stranded braid, basket-weaves, and a hair coil that made my hair look like a piece of black rope.

But since the kids were born, I've had a lot less time to do anything much with my hair. A trim every three years or so (I'm not kidding). Mostly, I'd just pull it all back in a ponytail, and what's the point of that? There just seemed to be so darn much of it, and it was mighty frizzy sometimes. I was starting to compare my hair to Amy Winehouse's and was secretly worrying someone else was going to notice the resemblance. (Not the tattoos, eye makeup, or drug habits. Skinny arms, pointy face, big hair, yes.) So this week, I took the time the babysitter was entertaining the kids to go get a spur-of-of-the-moment haircut. I'd been contemplating a big chop for quite a while, but actually doing something about it didn't happen till I looked in the mirror, held it all up on my head like I've been doing for a while now, nodded at my reflection, and grabbed my car keys.

The hairdresser chatted up a blue streak, punctuated every few minutes with, "Wow! You really have so much hair, I can't get over it." I would just reply with a smile, "Yep."

"I'm going to have to cut this wet, there's just so much of it."


"I just love a challenge! You're going to be fun."

(Smile) "Yep."

So I got just the cut I wanted - the ends of my curls resting on my shoulders - which was at least 8 inches. There was lots and lots of fluff on the floor. And for the first time ever, my daughters' hair is longer than mine. I pushed for interesting haircut stories and listened while the hairdresser told with glee about getting to give someone a mohawk. He wanted it to annoy his in-laws! Even though my cut wasn't totally finished and was airdrying into a big poofy ball, I knew that as soon as I could get my hands on it, it was going to suit me right down to the ground. It is - dare I say it - cute.

So the hairdresser was finishing up when she called another over to consult about my hair. "We really think you should get it relaxed," they said. They didn't do it there, but she could give me the name of the training college she went to and they'd do it for half-price. (I could just see the students drooling over my hair. "Come get a load of this hair! It's ca-razy!") I was kind of interested, but since I couldn't do it then anyway, it was kind of a moot point. The fact that I would have to get it done every couple of months (or sooner, because my hair grows like mad) turned me off of it, because I can barely manage to cover my grays, let along make an standing appointment at a salon. I knew the cost was going to be up there, and I am a pretty low-maintenance girl. I don't need a fancy haircut, because not only can I not maintain it, but I would be thinking about how that money could buy clothes for the kids or a nice dinner out with my husband, both of which I would much rather have than straight hair. (I also read this which scared me off it further because of the damage it could do to my hair.)

But the main reason I didn't want to try relaxing my hair is this: I don't think I would look like ME anymore, if I had straight glossy hair. I'm not worried that people wouldn't recognize me (although they wouldn't!) but that I wouldn't recognize me. I like the curls. I like the thickness. I even like the color. I like being able to use a straightening iron if I want to and go back to curls the next day.

And who says that perfect hair means straight hair, anyway?

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