Even though many of my social media handles were at one point some variation of Big Curly Hair, I haven’t always been rocking curls. When I was little, my hair was shiny, smooth, and straight at the roots, with delicate waves starting around my ears. My mom even gave me bangs, so I basically was rocking Zooey Deschanel’s signature ‘do before it was cool. That’s right: Hollywood Toddler Allison.
Flash forward to third grade, and my hair started to become…different. It wasn’t curly, not exactly wavy, and it definitely wasn’t straight. It was just kind of fuzzy. I still had bangs, but instead of angelic-yet-fashion-forward like my toddler years, my hair suddenly looked like an unfortunate helmet. Frizzwave bangs – not a good look.
Flash forward again to middle school. As if life wasn’t already hard enough swimming through an ocean of hormones, my hair decided to take me on a ride of its own. (It wasn’t until many years later that I learned how much hormones affect hair growth, texture, etc., which makes so much sense in retrospect.) Throughout 6th and 7th grades, my hair got progressively frizzier, to the point that my head looked like a giant triangle. It was at this point that I said ENOUGH, invested in a $20 Revlon straightener from my local drugstore, and went to work every morning for 2 and a half hours to force my tresses into pin-straight submission.
If hair can think for itself, it must have thought, “Okay lady, we get the point. We’ll quit it with the frizz”, because as soon as I hit 8th grade, my hair did call it quits on the frizz act and became extremely curly. I’m talking Shirley Temple ringlets. If I air-dried, my curls ended up looking like ropes because my hair was so long. If I diffused, my hair was a crunchy lion’s mane encircling my puffy pubescent face. (It was a rough time and I was still figuring out hair products, give me a break.)
Since everything I tried for my curls ended up being its own brand of disaster, I continued to straighten my hair for the first few years of high school. If memory serves, I would shower at night, then wake up at about 4:00-5:00 AM to straighten my hair, which was still a little damp. Yes, it was as exhausting and damaging to my hair as you’d imagine. But I learned to cherish it as my own “me time” to relax and reflect before venturing into the cutthroat world of secondary education.
One day during my junior year, I decided to try to wear my hair curly again – perhaps in a fit of blind hope, perhaps because I overslept and didn’t have time to straighten it. Unsure of how to style curls, I went to school with wet hair and hoped for the best. However, since my hair was piteously fried from all the straightening, it ended up as a bushy, wild nest around lunchtime and there was nothing I could do about it. But luckily for me, there was a girl in my class who was undeniably cool and could pull off all the things that were either not allowed or too edgy for private school: a nose piercing, short hair with pink peekaboo highlights, and big, funky accessories. As I was walking out of English class, she said to me, “Allison, your hair looks really good like that. You should wear it curly more often.”
Even though it’s been a decade (seriously?) since that encounter, I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a defining moment for me, because it was the reassurance I needed to start embracing my natural curls, which had thankfully chilled out a bit from the shocking ringlets (not that there’s anything wrong with ringlets! 🙂 ). I began to nurture and care for them, and they returned the favor by (usually) looking more and more amazing as my straightening era drifted further and further into the past. I can count on one hand (okay, maybe two…or three) the number of times I’ve straightened my hair since then, and I’m enjoying spending those early-morning hours asleep in bed instead of in front of the mirror 🙂
Even though my hair is still curly, it continues to change with time. I realize that I just went on and on about my mercurial mane, but it’s actually not just me – you may not have noticed, but everyone’s hair texture changes every 5-7 years. This is due to various factors such as hormones (including stopping and starting birth control, ladies!) and changes in water quality and hair care products. It’s normal for these changes to happen, so I’d like to say I’ve learned to roll with the punches. Sometimes my hair goes through a frizzy phase, or an extra voluminous phase, or a wimpy flat phase. All I can do is take care of my hair the best way I know how, and leave the rest up to the curls themselves – they really do have a mind of their own!
I’d also like to give myself a big pat on the back for how far I’ve come since most of these photos were taken. Not surprisingly, I was picked on in grade school and middle school (and some of high school) for my unruly hair (and for being ugly, among other things), but I’m proud of myself for sharing these pictures and recognizing that I’m not the hideous creature I believed myself to be for so many years. Puberty spares no one, and I consider myself lucky to have emerged on the other side as a better person – with great hair 🙂
I shared my curly hair story – now I’d love to hear yours! Don’t have curly hair? Tell me about whatever makes you special and unique!
Note: I wanted to keep this post (relatively) short and sweet, so I’m planning to share more on hair care in future posts! If there is something specific you want to read about, please let me know in the comments!