I’ll be 48 this year.
And I’m still at war with my hair.
I read in The New York Times recently that curly hair is making a comeback. An article by Marisa Meltzer entitled “Curls Get Their Groove Back” featured all these really cool beautiful women who are letting their hair dry au naturel. Meltzer writes, “… a curly look is both natural and modern.”
All the women featured in the Times piece have long, gorgeous, perfectly coiled ringlets.
My hair is an entirely different story.
I am a proud Jewish woman. I am not rejecting my heritage. I just feel better when my hair is straight.
Sometimes my hair is frizzy and sometimes it behaves and I do get ringlets but I never know what it’s going to decide to do on any given day. And often, it’s frizzy and curly all at once (frizzy on one side and curly on the other). I’ve got the kind of hair that’s inconsistent, that’s not dependable. I can’t rely on my hair. (Actually, if you knew me you’d know I’m a very consistent, loyal and dependable person so the fact that my hair is not is very frustrating.)
I’ve tried all the products. They just don’t work on my kind of hair. I bet these products work on women who already have good hair. Every time I’m at the hair salon for a cut, color or blow dry, I have to hear the shpiel about some new miracle product that will tame my frizz and turn my curls into beautiful spirals.
Truth be told, a new product might work. But it also might take me hours to get it to work. I’d have to wet and wash my hair, put the product in, toss and separate each of my curls and continue to do so while not moving until my hair is perfectly dry and set. Then I’d have to repeat this process every morning.
I’m a busy mom. I don’t have this kind of time.
Straight hair is easy hair. I don’t have to wet or wash my hair every day. In fact, it can look pretty darn good without even brushing it. It’s easy-mommy-instant-chic hair. If I’ve got somewhere to be in the evening, I can pick my kids up at soccer, make dinner and get ready in about 15-20 minutes and feel pretty pulled together.
So why do I feel so guilty?
Why does it bother me when my daughter wants to straighten her luxuriously thick, long and wavy hair for bar mitzvahs and the High Holidays?
Am I pretending to be someone I’m not? Am I teaching my daughter that who she is and where she comes from isn’t good enough? Why do I flip-flop? On one hand, I am so secure in who I am, yet on the other hand, by straightening my hair maybe I am betraying my Jewish roots (pun intended). Why does the weight of all Jewish history feel like it’s resting on my head and shoulders?
A few days before Rosh Hashanah, I went to the blow dry bar and had my hair straightened. Here’s what I got to do with the extra time I would have spent fussing with my hair if I let it dry naturally … I made a brisket in the morning and a beautiful round challah, and I took a lovely walk to synagogue with my family. We went to two services that day and had a memorable dinner that evening. I felt connected to my family, to Judaism, to my community.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to stop feeling so guilty and learn to be kinder to myself. I might start with making peace with my hair, finally. And I might just try and let it go curly a few days a week and not worry so much.