Two years ago, after nearly 15 years of blow drying, flat ironing, highlighting, and dying, I was officially in a hair rut. I sat in the stylist’s chair. My hairdresser Tommy, a twentysomething, tattooed hipster was running his hands through my lackluster locks.
“I am 30 years old, ” I said, “I want rocking hair.”
Tommy was quiet for a minute.
“Why don’t you just let it be curly, like it is naturally?” he suggested.
I don’t know why this was such a radical idea, but it was. The last time I wore my hair curly was when I was nine years old and the poodle perm was in vogue. My mom always told me my hair looked best long and straight. The fashion industry suggested the same. Even now, “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” Patti Stanger, agrees. On her show she never neglects to mention that the ladies should straighten their hair if they want to land a guy.
I suspect Patti is hiding a curly mane under that Morticia ‘do she rocks. As a sister Jewess, I find her comments particularly offensive. They reek of curly-hair prejudice. When you think about it, straightening curly hair is form of self-hatred. I don’t discount that some women just prefer it that way. But do we prefer it straight because we are conditioned to or because we truly believe it looks better that way?
Women who have curly hair are traditionally Eastern European, Latina, and African-American. Being made to feel like you should deny your natural hair to “be beautiful” or “land a man,” is an affront to ethnic beauty, not mention total BS.
“Do you think dudes are turned off by curly hair?” I asked Tommy.
“Any guy that doesn’t like curly-haired women is a f**king p**sy. Curly hair is f**king hot,” he answered without hesitation.
“Do it,” I urged.
Tommy did it, alright. I walked out of the salon looking like Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance.” I never felt hotter. I had a new respect for what my hair was capable of. What a feelin’, indeed!
After two years of rocking my real hair, my curls were starting to lose their spring. Frizz was creeping in. The Jennifer Beals’ look was gone. My coils just weren’t so cute anymore. I was considering going straight again. Another curly-haired friend of mine suggested I may not be caring for them properly and that there’s a method called “Curly Girl,” developed by Lorraine Massey, for hair like mine. She told me that there’s even a fancy NYC salon, Devachan, where they only do curly hair. Immediately, I scheduled an appointment to see Mary Anne Kuzniar, one of their senior stylists.
When I walked into the salon, I thought I had died and gone to curly heaven. Every woman working there, from the gal sitting at the reception desk to the woman in coat check, was a curly-haired goddess. All of the products were designed with curl in mind. I picked up Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl Handbook and thumbed through it as I waited. I discovered there was a name for my kind of curl, the Cherub Curl. I felt adorable.
Mary Ann, a gorgeous grey-haired curly woman, introduced herself. She cut my hair dry, by snipping the end of each curl individually, without using any tension. She explained that she was following the pattern of each curl, that curly hair should not be tugged, combed, or razored. Next, her assistant Krystel, a hot Latina with a long, sexy mane coiled to perfection, took me to the washing station, which had a massage chair, with a blacklit canopy overhead. All the pampering made me feel like royalty.
Krystel shampooed me with No-Poo, a sulfate free, non-sudsing scalp cleanser, and conditioned me with a combination of Heaven in Hair, a deep curl conditioner, and One Condition, a daily conditioner. Then she worked Set Up & Above and AnGEL through my locks to lift, volumize, and encourage my natural curl to hold. Instead of wrapping a towel around my head, they flipped my head over and squeegied each curl individually with a micro-fiber towel. They put little, metal clips in my hair to create shape and volume and dried me with a Deva-fuser, a diffuser shaped like a hand.
As I flipped my head over and did a model-esque hair shake, my curls sprang back to life. They were shiny and happy. I thought I was accepting my curls before, but clearly, I was uneducated about how to truly be a Curly Girl. Once again, I was filled with pride seeing what my curls could do with the proper TLC. That’s when I decided I was never going back. Embracing my curly hair is a statement I intend to stick with forever. Straight is not who I am. My life is curly; unexpected and sometimes unpredictable. But that’s how I like it. I’m unconventional. I want to own that. I don’t need to follow the straight and narrow definition of beauty to be beautiful.