I've always had a fuzzy head. My hair was pretty much the way it is in the below pictures until I was 12, at which point I begged my mother to let me grow it out so that people would stop thinking I was a boy. Don't get me wrong, I was a super cute kid, but my parents just didn't know what to do with my hair. My mom is Norwegian with beautiful, jet black, stick straight hair. My dad is African American and Native American with very thick hair that he mostly kept short while I was growing up, except for the occasional moderate afro phase. So my biracial hair getting some length was, well, an experiment. I will always be thankful to my parents for giving me blue eyes and skin that turns a beautiful shade of brown in the summer. But dang, the hair was a hassle.
As a teenager, there were plenty of ways for me to feel awkward, my hair included. I lived in a small town in Pennsylvania where there wasn't a lot of racial diversity, so most of my friends had long, flowing European locks while I struggled for my hair to grow past my shoulders and not resemble a brillo pad. I dreaded the elementary school days when the nurse checked us for lice. I used to walk out of her office looking like an electrocuted Diana Ross. In eighth grade, I had to cut multiple huge knots from the crown of my head. I remember thinking my vacations and cars would be determined by my hair - no way could camping or convertibles ever be part of my life with my unruly mop top. Until I was in college I almost exclusively wore my hair in buns and ponytails, and even after figuring out how to tame it enough to wear it down, it was always parted in the middle, boring, and unflattering. I don't think I always looked terrible or anything, and everybody loved the curls, but I had a hard time really owning my hair.
Things definitely started looking better when I just gave up on the idea that my hair is supposed to look a certain way. I remember feeling that my life changed when I started parting my hair to the side. I always thought that because I have curly hair, I couldn't pull of bangs. Poppycock! I had a moment of inspiration one summer day and just chopped some teeny, tiny bangs. You know what happened? I looked awesome! Then another summer night I had a friend buzz some stripes in the side of my head. You know how that looked? Freaking rad! As it turns out, hair is no different than any other form of fashion or beauty. The greatest accessory is confidence, and when I started doing things to my hair that I liked, I started liking my hair, and myself underneath it, a little bit more.
Truth be told, I still have bad hair days, but they're not nearly as frequent as the good ones. I've realized that the key ingredients to having a nice head of hair are getting regular cuts with someone worth your money, using the best concoction of products you can find, and having a non-defeatist attitude. It took many years to find my hairdresser soul mate, but my friend Emma works wonders at her salon called Fresh where she makes her own line of organic products and introduced me to John Masters Organics, my personal fave. Even if months go by in between trims, having a good haircut means that it will continue to grow well. Curly girls, layers are your friend! Leave-in conditioner, gel, sea salt spray, I use whatever I need to give my hair the look I want. I've found that skimping on products is never a good idea, and it usually pays off to explore. Anti-frizz stuff usually doesn't work for me, but I've become a lot more accepting of frizz because there's usually something pretty good going on to balance it out. I also think that being realistic is kind of important. I could do whatever I want to my hair with a flat iron and round brush, but I don't have those tools, and frankly, I'm too darn lazy to get that involved. Most importantly, I've come to just embrace my many looks.: the washed today, shiny, perfectly curly look; the rolled out of bed, kinda curly, kinda wavy look; the bobby pinned to straighten my bangs look; the up look; the down look; the sophisticated side ponytail look; all of them are neat because all of them are me and my hair is part of what makes me righteous.
If, like me, you've had a lifelong tumultuous relationship with your hair, just wake up tomorrow and decide that you're gonna like the way it looks. Start a love affair with your hair. Get passionate about how much it makes you angry and how thankful you are that you have it. Take good care of it, flip it, play with it, change it, adore it. Let your hair evolve as much as the rest of you.
Then wash, rinse, repeat.
Then wash, rinse, repeat.