(This doesn’t actually have much to do with my hair)
When I was a baby, I didn’t have any hair at all. My parents scotch-taped bows to my tomato-shaped head until I was two so that strangers would identify me as a little girl.
When my hair finally started growing, it came in as a mop top of golden ringlets. Some said I looked like David Letterman. Others compared me to Shirley Temple. My family members certainly didn’t think I looked like any of them, but when I looked in the mirror, I just saw me.
I used to swing my curls around in the back yard singing made up songs in a wedding dress my grandmother sewed for me. I cradled baby dolls, inhaled grilled cheese sandwiches and watched Nickelodeon. I was free in the way all little girls who don’t know about shame are free.
When I was in 2nd grade, I wandered into my mother’s bathroom. Everything on her counter was so beautiful and perfectly placed. I tried on a little bit of her lipstick, pillowed a little powder on my nose and walked through a cloud of her perfume. That was when I saw her tiny round brush. It only took one pull of the wiry, round blow-drying brush through my insanely thick, curly locks before it bound itself at the nape of my neck. My dad did the best he could to clip the brush out with nail clippers, but that day I lost 6 inches of baby curls to a tragic bowl cut and a great clips hair dresser.
My hair grew and the curls came back, but when I looked in the mirror I started to see the girl that everyone else wanted me to be. With irons and sprays and serums I flattened and fried my hair. I barretted and bobby pinned the halo of baby hair that crowned my face to look more like the sleek blonde Jessicas and Jennifers at Dodgen Middle School.
I studied note cards about my crush’s favorite bands. I dieted when I didn’t have to. I dieted when I didn’t want to. I wore these terrible, gaudy pink cowboy boots to impress another guy I liked. I said the things I knew other people wanted me to say. I drank my first beer after school in a boy’s empty house. Jerry Springer was on in the background. I repeated bible verses from memory. I did the right things, I did the wrong things. I lost myself.
My hair seems curlier these days. My thick locks fall right at my shoulders and even when I pull it back into a ponytail, my bangs still bounce around my face. A few months ago I stopped using all the irons and sprays and serums that I’ve been using for years to flatten my curls. I stopped saying what I thought people wanted me to say and doing what I thought people wanted me to do.
I know that some people don’t see what I see. I know that some people probably don’t understand my dreams or laugh at my jokes or even enjoy spending time with me. There are some people who think that the things I believe in are unimportant. Most likely, there are people who don’t like the things I say. There are those who think I’m doing the right kinds of things and some who think I’m doing the wrong kinds of things. I intimidate some people. Some people think I’m weird. Some people think I should be spending more time on dates and less time daydreaming. And maybe some people think I shouldn’t wear my hair curly.
But they are just some people and I’m too busy dancing around in my back yard to pay them any mind.
My hair is a lot curlier these days; at least it feels that way.