Hello, Wavy Nation! This is the inaugural post for those of us who struggle (yes STRUGGLE, curlies) with that texture which is between straight and curly. I have been asked by other wavies to share my experience and insight in a wavy journey. I’m no expert, but I am one of the confused.
Nation, I am one of the many. Curly Hair Artistry and stylists suggest 65% of hair is wavy, curly or multi-textural. Probably most people just whip out the straight iron and pray there is no humidity. Even among The Wavy, there are degrees and differences in properties that put us more in line with the True Curly or the Imposter. I count myself among the Imposter. I cannot treat my hair like the Pure Straight but neither am I the True Curly. I do not experience the curly frizz but rather the straight frizz. Untreated, my hair looks just puffy.
High dewpoints are more likely to make my wave limp with straight babies sticking straight out with some wild kinky pattern that looks just bizarre.
Nation, I have seen the sad disappointment of the stylist who only wants to straighten my hair. Give me smooth shiny hair by burning the cuticle into submission. I have left the salon looking something between the beach babe and itinerant seaweed surgline babe until I can get home and style my own hair. I have pixied in hopes of looking like Juliette Binoche and permed in hopes of Hollywood princess coils. I understand.
Why do we do so much to achieve The Look we crave? Hair is probably more integral to our identity than any other feature of our person. Industry revenues across the spectrum prove this. From promising straight flowing tresses to perfect curly perfection, billions are made from us searching for The Look each particular person envisions. Hair is personal. Hair is VERY out there. It seems to project …. something to other people. Right or wrong, conscious or subconscious, we project a perception. Though perhaps more perceived about and by women, some of this applies to men too. From the derisive soubriquet of “long hair hippies”, to the much more historically traumatic struggles of the African American Natural Movement, to the ideas that sleek is responsible and curly projects some kind of frivolous nature, people seem to associate that the way our hair grows out of our head and how it is worn somehow reflects our whole person. As though it contains the answer to who we are instead of what just grows on our head. But it IS personal and is something probably most people struggle with in some way. I guess everyone has bought in to the myth that it Means Something. Does it? Or have we bought in so much that instead of embracing it how it is, most people think it should be Something Else.
For me, I wish I was a True Curly. Always have. Maybe it was because that was what was lauded by my Shirley Temple era mother. When that was not achievable, my hair was generally pulled so tightly back and hair sprayed into submission that my scalp screamed when I finally let it out at night. Next were home perms.
Ooo. Yeah, home perms. Several hours of scary chemically experimentation that resulted in uneven results at best. Then came the salon perm. After a couple of bust fry outs, I learned to be emphatic enough to insist on the largest rollers and a 3 minute process time. Stylists resisted, insisting this would not produce the desired curl, but they always came away looking astonished when they checked at 3 minutes. Sometimes, that really came out ok.
But then, coloring became (I thought- more on that in another post) necessary and I knew that both coloring and perming was going to be a short trip to hair that looked like I had wandered the desert for 40 years. I gave up perming. Since I never sought the Pure Straight life, I fought with curling irons. But that way was fraught with total failure. Unless the highest heat was used and scary steam came off my hair, my wave was juuuuust enough to push out any imposed curl. I ended up looking “straggly” is the best way to describe it.
My friend for probably 15 years. Wash required daily. Products galore. Spray wax (which took days to remove), root lifter, still the curling iron so that at it’s shortest it did not just flip under to helmet head or, longer, look like I was standing in a stiff wind with ends flipping out in random directions.
Then I stopped cutting. Time, lack of caring, basically just giving up, I didn’t get my hair cut. I got past the awkward stage and one day it occurred to me, maybe my hair isn’t a real problem. Maybe it’s just wavy. I decided to try the Curly Girl method which I’d seen mentioned on the internet as I looked for The Answer to my weird hair. Low and behold, I found better results than I got with any curling iron.
It turns out that my Hair Identity was to try to help it do it’s own thing. It has required a lot of experimenting and a lot of acceptance but I’m getting there. And because some people think I have a way with explaining things and ruminating on things that might help other wavies, I opened The Wavy Nation and I welcome anyone who cares to read and comment and maybe we can all find The Look our hair wants us to achieve. I’m no professional, but if anything I have learned as I try to find out what my hair wants to be helps someone else, I’m glad to share.