My Curls and Why I Have Made Peace With Them

One woman decides to stop fighting her naturally curly hair

Woman to Women

Hair-Raising Thoughts

Making peace with my curls

-Jennifer Lubell

woman with curly hair“There are people who would pay hundreds of dollars to have hair like yours.”

This is the phrase that every curly-haired woman dreads hearing. Whether its doddering old ladies or friends who pay exorbitant fees for perms, we curly girls are told ad nauseam that we should feel grateful for the spiral tresses that adorn our heads.

The truth is I hate my hair, and I’ve been battling it all my life.

The only woman I know of who revels in her “naturally curly hair” is Frieda, Charlie Brown‘s annoying friend, and let’s face it, she’s a cartoon character. Someone can “draw” perfect curls on her head and she’s set!

As I stand in front of the mirror some mornings, stressing about the rain outside that’s threatening to transform me into Rosanne Rosannadanna, I want to personally kill all those women I’ll see on the subway whose shiny manes will be unaffected by precipitation.

When I was young, I had straight hair – the beautiful kind that was thick and shiny and looked good in ponytails. Then, when I turned 10, I got a horrible case of the chicken pox that ravaged my scalp. Shortly afterward, I went through puberty at an early age. I don’t know if it was the pox or hormones, but like some horrible magic trick, my hair transformed overnight.

It became this kinky, tangled mess that was so unruly my mother had to cut it short. I went through all of my teen years and part of college looking like Richard Simmons.

Eventually the texture improved and I got the courage to grow out the afro, but the battles with my hair were far from over. If women with straight hair think they spend lots of money getting perms, we curly heads probably fork over twice as much to get it relaxed, straightened, and invest in tons of hair products to get rid of frizz.

Most of these products don’t work. A drawer in my bathroom cabinet serves as a graveyard for all the gels, sprays and pomades that failed in their test to give me shiny, frizz-free curls.

My hair is like kudzu – nothing kills it, and it grows everywhere.

Finding a good cut is even more challenging. If I layer it, I run the risk of looking like a fuzzy mushroom. Growing it to one length at my shoulders makes me look like a fuzzy pyramid. When I tried flat ironing my hair, my husband winced and said, “You look like a newscaster.”

Recently, my hairdresser told me about this amazing new hair straightening treatment. “Your hair will be silky and frizz-free,” she said. I was ready to sign up for it, but in doing some research on the Internet, I came across a word that made my blood turn cold.

Formaldehyde.

That’s one of the secret ingredients the treatment uses to make your hair silky and frizz-free. Plus, it costs $350 per treatment or more and lasts only a few months.

I decided that it wasn’t worth spending $1,400 a year to dump a cancer-causing agent on my head. A chunk of change like that should be used for my son’s college education, I reasoned.

If this latest hair gel I bought doesn’t work, I can always buy a hat.


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