Friday, March 18, 2011

Changeability: A Study of Environment and Genetics On Hair

Humid Hawaii's tight, wiry curls
So as a kid, I had straight blonde hair. It went through an awful process at puberty, got ashy and frizzy, which I decided to reply to by dying and perming it. Just a big "Eff You" to nature and genetics in general; don't take me on. I'll tint the shit out of you. Red looks good with my pink complexion anyhow.
And the perm was just necessary. Have you ever started growing in frizzy hair over straight? Long, forlorn strands hanging weakly from the frizz storm exploding out the top of your looks like a homemade diorama of rain coming out of a cloud. So yeah.

Alaska's looser, longer curls
'Red and curly' became my MO, and I've had great consistency with that since the age of 15 - color out of a box, true, but the perm was just a cheat code to my ultimate curly destiny; by the time it wore off, all of my hair was naturally curly, so theoretically my perm held for almost a decade -- until now.

Straightened for my trim

Gods help me, I worked at a day spa over the summer. I had nothing in common with these people, and kept myself aloof of all offers to help "fix" me -- and then one day, this dear little old lady came in for some shampoo and loved my hair. I always ALWAYS wore it up at the spa for professionalism, but she wanted to know HOW it'd been put it I had to take it down to show her. One of our hairdressers saw my long, uncut Hawaiian-style hair, and lost his shit. He needed to trim it. I agreed on the stipulation that he kept it as long as he could, that I was vain about the length and that it was my priority. Then I said a retarded thing while in the chair; "Nah, I trust you." I meant that I trusted him to honor my wishes and do a good job. He took that to mean I had faith in his artist's vision of my head's future. Never, EVER say this while still in their chair.
The so-called "trim"

Because this is what you get; I now look like every other high-maintenance spa-going girl. And he STRAIGHTENED it -- which is why it looks close in length. It's a LIE, he actually took off half a foot of hair!

Still curly, though
But once I got away from the spa and his opinions (and his flatiron) my hair still had its own thing going on - a weird, defiant wild curl that was more reminiscent of the mane I'd rocked Before the Reckoning.

And then, after I'd come home from Christmas in Hawaii that year, it just sort of...gave up. Traveling is hard on dead parts like hair and nails anyhow, because of altitude and stress, not to mention from going between dry, dry Christmas AK, where the snowing has stolen the moisture from the air, to muggy HI, where the so-called "Winter" weather manifests as humidity occasionally relieved by rain.

And then...suddenly not?
Something just happened, and when I returned to AK, it sort of collapsed into this wavy soft stuff I'd never seen before - it was like wearing a disguise that fools even you. It had been reminded of childhood ideas about "straightness" by that damn hairdresser, and when it got too tired of my traveling malarky, it just regressed like a trauma patient. And even now, it is content with wavy -- if I put it into a scrunchie while damp it does a lovely little double wave, but the top of my head has a downward curve the likes of which has been only seen before in a class that grades on the curve.

Now to get it to curl tight I have to put it up the day before...which is not so bad, because I made these barrettes with fake leaves glued on, so I twist my hair up in a bunch of random knots and pretend my head's a bird's nest.Which is not so far from true, and much better than looking like a high-maintenance spa girl.


  1. In response to your question about horses. We whistle and yes, we trained them that way. As simple as teaching a dog to come. You whistle, give them a treat and after three times, they will come to a whistle.

    Breaking used to be the old is the best term. When a horse is "broke", he is forced to do what you want. It is tramatic and dangerous to you both. Training is a do correctly with rewards and no correction. Just think of horses as big dogs.

    Thanks for stopping by to visit.

  2. My hair grades on a curve and the older I get the curvier it gets.

  3. Your hair looks great! Any way you wear it. But I know what you mean, hair changes, b/c this year my hair starting breaking off or falling out! Haven't figured it out yet, but did start taking biotin and B6 - may have helped a little. Effin' frustrating!
    And yes, those hairdressers are whack-happy, true?

  4. Dawn: So true! If your hair needs help with brittleness, I recommend BioSilk. It's super-effective, and helps me with fighting my hair's dry, bristly nature. It might give your hair enough oil to keep it from snapping.