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In a Curly-Haired Girl’s Shoes

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A friend of mine recently chastised me for complaining too much about my hair.

Which, if you haven’t already guessed, is very curly. In the summertime, it grows in volume, gets frizzy in the rain and humidity, and no amount of miracle gel in the universe makes it look halfway decent.

This friend, whose straight, shiny hair glosses up in the sun and never reacts badly to a blowdryer, just can’t relate to my frustration.

“It’s just hair,” she said irritably. Then went on to tell me that I needed a dose of therapy and a shot of self-esteem.

I think this friend needs to stand in my shoes—or perhaps wear a wig resembling my hair for a week. I’m guessing that she’d have more sympathy for me after grappling with it for seven days.

I understand that it’s “just hair.” I know that I complain too much about it, that I don’t suffer from something really horrible, like a disease, or obesity. I know I have a great life.

But my hair does drive me crazy.

I touch the ends of it, and it feels like straw. The hot summer sun has taken its life away, and most days my hair is usually a weird combination of dried-out frizz and Ramen noodle—the product of too much gel and not enough moisture.

I watched enviously as my friend got ready to face her day. A few spritzes from the spray bottle, a comb-thru, then a light touch with the blow dryer and she looks like a shampoo model.

I usually look like a wet dog at 8 a.m. because my hair would dry out even more under the heat of the blow dryer. Yet, I can’t just fluff it out in the morning after sleeping on it all night.

It would look like a misshapen mushroom if I did that. Sometimes, it looks misshapen even after I style it.

If only my friend knew what I had to go through every day.

That I condition, condition, and condition my hair in the shower each morning—and still, by the end of the day, my curls are acting like they’re dying of thirst. That I have to go to work with a wet head every morning—even in the wintertime—because drying it naturally is the option that seems to work the best. And I use the term “best” quite loosely. That I have to “scrunch out” any crunchiness in the bathroom once it dries. This poses a challenge if I have an early morning meeting. Do I have time to “scrunch” or not?

Once, I went to a job interview with a wet, crunchy-looking head. I didn’t get called back for a second interview.

Sometimes I look in the mirror, at the smart outfit I’ve picked out for work and let out a sigh. Noticing that my clothes and hair just don’t seem to go together.

If my friend only knew the frustration of spending hundreds of dollars each year on anti-frizz products and watching in dismay as those products disappoint, time and again.

That I’m actually seriously thinking of spending more than $300 on a Brazilian hair treatment that only lasts a few months, but promises everything I’ve ever dreamed of. No more frizz. “Wash and go,” silky, conditioned hair. Hair that doesn’t need ANY gel or spray, that responds beautifully to a blow dryer.

And I can wear it wavy or straight!

I know if I get this treatment, I won’t look exactly like myself. My hair will be straighter than it once was. It will be an imposter of the silky hair my friend has.

My husband would be furious, because he likes my wild hair, exactly as it is.

Then again, he doesn’t exactly like the crying fits and tantrums he hears from the bathroom every morning, as I struggle and fight my hair like a lion with a whip.

Like my friend, his hair is straight and easy to care for. He’s never suffered through names like “Afro girl” and “Fuzz.” No one’s ever accused him of looking like a clown.

So, don’t go judging me quite yet, my straight-haired friends.

Sometimes it’s difficult to walk in a curly-haired girl’s shoes. Especially when it’s raining out—and I’ve forgotten an umbrella.


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