Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

MeCurls5.jpg (20436 bytes)My hair has always been my best feature.  As a child, to age about 7, I had Shirley Temple-type curls.  My mother would carefully form the curls around her finger each morning and, as she tells the story, during the day, the curls would tighten up so that in the morning it was a horrible ordeal to brush them out and re-curl them.

Finally, when I was 7, she agreed to let my hair be cut.  It was so painful for her that she couldn't stay in the beauty parlor and watch it be done.   When it was over, I had a nice short haircut.  The tight curls never came back, but my hair was always thick and wavy.

Me10.jpg (29897 bytes)I came by my curly/wavy hair naturally.  My grandmother had very long hair, which she braided into a crown on top of her head, but when she finally had it cut, when she was probably close to the age I am now, it formed soft grey curls around her head.  I think my mother once told me that my grandfather (whom I only knew as bald) had curly hair when he was a young man.

Trying to get the curl back, my mother occasionally took me to a beauty parlor for a permanent, but the beautician told her I didn't really need one.   

My mother took over the care of my hair and always rolled it in curlers or pin curls and brushed it for me every morning before I went to school.  In fact, when I was going to enter the convent, after high school, my biggest fear of turning over my life to God, was that I would have to do my own hair for the first six months, before I got my headpiece--and I didn't know how.  This may have been the first clue that my dedication to the religious life was not entirely as deep as it should have been for someone who was about to enter a convent!

MeWBabyJeri.jpg (32593 bytes)The thing about my hair that was always very nice was that whenever I went to a beauty shop to get it cut, whoever was working on my head always commented on what nice hair I had and sometimes called other beauticians to come over and see my nice, thick, wavy hair.  I had to put it in rollers or pin curls to get the look in this picture, but it curled nicely when I did.

(isn't that a cute picture of baby Jeri?)

When the kids went to nursery school, I was in my earth mother period.  I often went bra-less, I was literally barefoot and pregnant much of that time, and I decided to let my hair grow.  I didn't cut it for 3-4 years and it became this big bushy mass that was pretty much straight, and very difficult to get a brush through (and about impossible to get a comb through!)

It got to where it came to a couple of inches below my shoulders and really did not look very good (especially when I decided to give myself the auburn locks of Maureen O'Hara and tried coloring it.  Purple was not a good color for me...)

I finally gave up on the long hair and went and had it cut again.   Amazingly, suddenly it seemed that the curl came back.  Not the tight curls of my childhood, but definitely more curl than I had for years.  The beautician that I talked to said that often hair that had been curly once, when allowed to grow and let the weight pull all the curl out of it, when cut the curls would spring back again.

Me-DE.jpg (71900 bytes)I don't know when I stopped setting my hair after washing it. I just had it cut.  To this day, I don't know what to tell a beautician when she asks me how I want my hair cut.   I would tell her to just cut xx inches off and my hair would do whatever it wanted.   It almost always looked good, some days better than others, but I haven't used rollers or curls in years (don't ask me how to use a hair dryer--I don't have a clue how to do it!)

My hair was so thick and curly that I got pulled out of a mall one day by a hoity toity stylist who had come to show beauticians how to cut naturally curly hair.  His model had not shown up and he asked if I would allow him to cut my hair.   It was, by far, the very best cut I ever had, even if he did spend the whole time talking about how ashamed I should be to go out in public looking the way I did and how disgusted he was at my appearance. (I had just run out for a quart of milk and had 5 children at home waiting for me!)

My mother, who was not born with curly hair, like a couple of her sisters, was aways jealous of my hair.  Almost every time she saw me she would grab my curly hair and say something like "LOOK at that hair.  God, it just makes me sick to look at it."  I understood that this was a backhanded compliment and that it made her sick because she wanted curly hair like I had, but I finally exploded at her one day and told her how it made me feel to have my mother always telling people how sick it made her to look at my hair.  Amazingly, that was one of my things that she actually remembered.  She hasn't mentioned my hair and how she felt about it since.

But something started happening a few years ago.  My hair started thinning.  It has been about 3 or 4 years now.  First I started noticing more hair than usual in the drain after a shower.  Beauticians stopped commenting about how wonderfully luxurious my hair was, and started asking if I wanted to buy "product" that would give my hair more body.  More body???  I had the hair that needed no body.  It had its own!
But as I look back over old photos and comparing with photos taken today, I have to admit that I definitely do not have the hair that I had before.

Aus300x300.jpg (61461 bytes)
Not  this any more
MeLogos.jpg (56325 bytes)
...but this
I have to accept the fact that my thick, luxurious hair is not going to come back.  I'm still in pretty good shape, but as much as it got ho-hum tiresome to have people tell me what great hair I would be nice to have that hair again.

At least I don't have to worry about my mother feeling sick when she looks at my hair.  Now it's me who does it!


Mary Z said...

Well, here we go again. My hair was/is not as curly as yours, but naturally curly nonetheless. And I tried dying it red once. It didn't turn purple, but I never got used to seeing that redhead in the mirror - so I dyed it back. I couldn't help my girls with their hair, because I didn't know how to do my own. I can't use a hairdryer, either. And now it's thinning a big, all white/grey, and kept cut very short. I do now know what to tell the stylist when she asks how to cut it, though. 8^)

Harriet said...

You still have more hair than I ever had (except in the era of Big Hair, when I teased it out to hell'n'gone). When my mother curled my hair around her finger, she was lucky if it didn't straighten before she focused the camera!

I am please to say that my daughters inherited good hair from their father -- and maybe from mine. But my oldest daughter has inherited something from my mother that I didn't: premature grey.