I’ve always liked my curly hair. Granted, there have been many a bad hair day when the curls wouldn’t turn out how I wanted them to, but that could be fixed with a ponytail. I love having variety with my hair. I can wear it naturally curly one day, barrel curled the next, straight the day after, and then back to curly only to be inevitably asked if I had gotten a perm. Curling irons, flat irons, blow dryers, combs and my infamous tsunami brush…all tools I use to create whatever look I am feeling that day.
A couple years ago, I watched the movie Good Hair, a documentary by Chris Rock where he explores the hair culture, especially among African-American women. A women is interviewed and said something to the effect of straight hair is perceived to be more professional while curly hair is unrefined and that’s why so many African-American women turned to relaxers. My first thought was “That’s crazy. So not true. I love my curly hair! I wouldn’t ev….oh wait. I’ve never worn my hair curly for a job interview. I’ve never worn my hair curly for a professional event. Hmm.”
It got me thinking about how I wore my own hair. It was true. If I had a client meeting or family party, inevitably I would straighten my hair. Why didn’t I feel my natural curls were good enough? Why didn’t I embrace them? I know plenty of women, Middle Eastern in particular, who religiously straighten their hair. Never do they leave the house without making sure it’s perfectly straight. I wasn’t that bad, I thought. I’m not trying to be something I’m not. At least I wear my hair natural most of the time. But was I really any better?
Fast forward to today. After being spoiled in the Las Vegas desert with good hair days every day thanks to low humidity, I realized a summer back in Michigan was not going to be so kind to my curls. Frizzy hair and ponytails is what I was looking forward too. I talked to my sister, who is a hairstylist, about what my options were and we settled on a modified version of Pravana’s Keratin Fusion service that would eliminate most of the curl but still give me the option to wear it differently, as I like to do.
As I sat for the service, I couldn’t help but wonder if I made the right decision. So what if my hair was frizzy? Was it really a big deal? Couldn’t I just wear it pulled back like I normally do? I kept thinking about things I had learned from the documentary Miss Representation. The film explores how women are portrayed in the media and it was one of the more eye-opening experiences of my life – but that’s another blog at another time. I have always considered myself to be pretty confident and above yearning for the photo shopped thighs gracing magazine pages. But now I wasn’t so sure.
Was I resorting to the permanent straightening process because I was too lazy to deal with my hair this summer or because I was trying to conform with what society has programmed me to think is attractive? Isn’t that was this all boils down to at the end? I’m conflicted because I don’t know if I’ve made this drastic change for me or because I want to fit in and look pretty. It’s like make up. I love wearing make up, trying out new colors or new techniques. But is my obsession one I cultivated or one that was cultivated for me? I still can’t decide.
I’m now 9 hours into a 48 hour process (FYI – it was really smart of me to do this in warm weather, with a yoga class and training session coming up because part of the process forbids you from pulling your hair up or off your face, lest a permanent crease is created). Part of me wants to wash my hair and go back to being curly and deal with frizz. Yet another part is looking forward to a summer where I don’t have to worry about how my hair is going to turn out when it’s 95 degrees with 700% humidity. Do I subscribe to society’s image of beauty or do I make my own rules and have the option to change how I look everyday?
I’ll let you know when I decide. I have a few more hours.
It’s been a couple weeks since I had the straightening treatment done. In proof that my hair has a mind of it’s own, it did not fully take (which was expected since we did a modified version of the process) and the curl is slowly returning. I guess no matter what I try, I’m always going to a K-k-k-katie…and I’m pretty happy about that. 🙂