Monday, July 4, 2011

Curly Is, As Curly Does

I'm a curly head.

It's a little bit scary just how much of my identity, through the course of my life, has revolved around having curly hair.  Not only do I associate so much of myself with curly tresses, but others do as well.  It makes me easily identifiable in a crowd, especially since I also color my hair a fairly bright red hue. 

I've never been what you would call, a conventional person.  I've never had what you would call, a conventional look.  I'm not that eccentric by any means . . . I'm not goth; I'm not a bombshell; I'm not overtly and hip-ly modern.  I'm just not the average girl.  I look as if there's a real possibility that I was born in the wrong era -- that I would sit more comfortably in the Renaissance or the Medieval periods.  I have what many would term as the "classic" look: small, petite features, fair skin, plenty of meat on my bones, and . . . of course, the curly hair.

When I was growing up curly hair (natural curly hair) was not the popular do.  I was born in 1980, so I was around for the somewhat disturbing era of pom-pom perms and tsunamis of bangs.  But during my teen years, mostly the preferred look was straight hair -- something with which I was not naturally endowed.  Sure, I suppose I could have purchased a hair straightener and squeezed and forced my way into mainstream, but I felt an innate resentment for the pressure to fit inside of a mold.  Molds and I don't go too well together.  I made a conscious decision, like with most other things in my life, to go against the grain.  It's not because I see myself as some sort of warrior of the outcasts, some champion of the different . . . I just hate being like everyone else.  And fortunately (I guess) for me, I've never had to work very hard at that.

Let me share with you, for those of you who have not been "blessed" with the curly gene, the number one issue with curly hair.  Like a willful monarch, curly hair has a mind of its own; it is the ruling master over the kingdom called my head.  Example 1: no matter how many times I carefully separate the curls so that they look full, it will never fail that as the day goes on certain ones around my neck will pool together out of exhaustion? confusion? revenge? and morph into an inferior looking Shirley Temple lock.  Example 2: numerous mornings with hair shooting off in every possible direction, as if they had lost their way through the night, and after debating long and hard over which way to venture, each hair grouped together in 10's, yelling obscenities at the others, breaking off from the general population, and taking off on their own way with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.

This is what we curly-heads deal with on a daily basis, no matter what type of curl it is -- small and kinky, all the way to loose and big.  Mine are more on the looser and bigger end of the spectrum.  My hair is also very fine, and therefore enjoys going flat on me at whim.  The issues are endless, just as endless as the types of curly hair that exist in the world.  And we curly-heads are still wandering in the wilderness for all the right answers to our curly plight -- some manna for our hair hunger.

Let me just lay it all out on the table . . . many parts of me HATE my curly hair, especially when I was growing up.  I hate how temperamental it is.  I hate that I can't control it . . . EVER!  I hate that I still haven't mastered the art of styling it.  I hate that it taunts me, mocks me, laughs violently at me at night, while plotting the next day's follicle failure.  Yes, I realize that I'm being a bit over-dramatic.  But I suppose that it just comes with the territory; curls are a bit more on the dramatic side, right?  Although, all of my drama has been saved for the stage . . . and apparently, hair.

I've talked with other curly-heads, and they all share at least some level of this same frustration.  We all have a strange dichotomy of often hating our hair, but not being completely willing to give it up, had we the opportunity to do a hair swap.  Why is this?  Could it be that we are all secret masochists? Are we hell-bent on making sure that we never have a stress-free start to our day?  Definitely not.  But we (at least most of us) realize that the frustrations and annoyances are part of who we are -- the curls, no matter how laden with extra work, are a strange and wonderful aspect of our character. 

There aren't many days that go by that I don't complain about my hair, at least in my own head or that I hurl at my own reflection whilst begging the mirror for a little mercy.  But truly, I don't want straight hair.  I have nothing against it, nothing bad to say about it.  Straight hair is beautiful. But it's just not me.  I'm not meant to be a straight-haired girl, which is apparently why God planted nothing but curls upon my head.  I wouldn't look right with straight hair.  Honestly, I think I'd look rather stupid, awkward . . . and, well, fatter.  The curls at least help my "meatiness" look a bit more proportioned. 

Even more than all that, I want to keep the curls because they are a physical manifestation of my quirkiness.  They offer a certain artsy, creative, offbeat stamp upon my persona.  And well, that is me.  I am a free spirit . . . always have been.  I think for myself (often thinking the unpopular ideals) and I follow my own path.  I've never been a follower.  But I've never been a leader either.  I've never had the desire to fall into either of those roles; I have just always simply done my own thing.  My favorite quote of all  time is from Thoreau: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." I don't think there is a single quote that could sum my parts so eloquently.  Thoreau may not have had curls in mind when he penned those words, but in a silly sort of way, I feel that they are an extension (really, no pun intended) of his thought.   

My curls are not the summation of me, but they are a part.  And over the years I have made my peace with them, and have slowly, but surely, learned to embrace them.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to hate them sometimes.  I'm still going to raise my metaphoric clenched fists to the air and ask, "Why hast thou curs'd me?"  But once the frustration cools and the curls mellow, I will accept them and even marvel a bit at their beauty.  I will let my hands course over them and feel the smooth curves, the dipping and rising of their lines . . . until, I start the whole process over again tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, have those curls and know what you are talking about. But I have appreciated them the older I get. (Just think of all the expense curly hair saves!)