Inaugural Wavy Nation Post: The Hair Identity

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Enter, the pixie. IMG_6283

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.

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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.

So. Weird.

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.

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27 thoughts on “Inaugural Wavy Nation Post: The Hair Identity”

  1. Wavies unite! Lol… My mom had very curly hair. Out never occurred to me that the frizzy/poofy hair I had after age 12 on days I didn’t blow dry my hair was 2b/wavy hair trying to make itself known. Fast forward to age 37 when I stumbled across the curly girl method while researching sulfate free shampoos. Finally! Sooo glad I figured it out. Better late than never.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG! First let me say you are an excellent writer. Second, this sounds exactly like my hair! I have never been able to use a curling iron to get curls, and hot rollers leave me with puffy, frizzy hair.
    I have had some if the worst perms ever. Once I wore a bandanna over my hair at work because the perm was crispy.
    Love, love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I can relate to most of it… Its really a strugle for us wavies, because we are always in betwen the straight and the curly category…
    I myself always thought I had straight frizzy hair. And if you google it you find a lot of advices that teach how straighten it or curl it but the fact that frizzy wavy hair can actualy be wavy hair rarely shows up…
    Looking foward to learn more from
    all your journey into this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “I do not experience the curly frizz but rather the straight frizz. Untreated, my hair looks just puffy.”

    That was me!! The only way I could ever get sleek and shiny hair was by using excessive amounts of heat with my curling iron or straightener. I was always wondering what was wrong with my hair.

    Great 1st post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Go Karen! I love your inaugural post 🙂
    Looking forward to reading your posts on wavy adventures – I never went for a perm or a pixie, but I had my hair relaxed. Thankfully I was very young and didn’t have the money for repeats lol! xx Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks so much for starting a blog so many of us need to read. I had Shirley Temple ringlets until I was 4, and after that I just had wonky hair. It wouldn’t lie flat and it had a mind of its own, but not enough curl to do anything bu defy me. I had the short Mia Farrow cut for a while, the super long hair for a while, and the permed hair for 20 years. Right after entering my 60’s, I learned I was a wavy! Really? This late it life? So I am experimenting, too, and I so enjoy your experience and ideas. I really look forward to this journey with you. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! I figured out my hair was wavy at 49 also. I have been fighting the straight and frizzy all my life. I also had the perms that were always too curly and the pixie cut that took as much time to style as shoulder length. I found the curly girl forum last and your posts got me started with exploring my wavy hair.

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  8. I’m not the only one? All these years (I’m 45), I’ve told stylists that I have wavy hair, only to hear, “No, really you don’t-you can’t call the little flip on the right side of your head a wave.” Or “Um, yeah, sure-you really just need to blow dry.” But if I had straight hair, why was my hair wavy if I got caught in the rain? Why did I have frizzy hair in the summer if it was straight? Why did I have a couple of little ringlets around my temples when I pulled my hair into a ponytail? When it was layered, why did I have big swoopy sections where the layers were short? I had experimented with enhancing my wave pattern over the years, frequently feeling like a wannabe. I’d usually just give up and let my hair be slightly frizzy, kind-of wavy hair that I’d let dry naturally (because I’m way too lazy to deal with blow-drying every day). And I would religiously wash daily. But this weekend, something weird happened. I washed Friday evening and woke up Saturday morning to weird lumpiness. I found a bottle of sea-salt spray that I had purchased on one of my forays into wave-enhancement and sprayed that into my damp hair. All day long, I had glorious beach hair. It was so pretty that I couldn’t bear to wash it Sunday. So I dampened it again and sea-salt sprayed. I still had beachy waves (albeit with greasy roots). This was enough for me to convince myself to go CG. I bought some Deva products and no-pooed my hair this morning. And I really DO have waves. It’s really cool. So I’ve learned a) I really DO have 2a wavy swavy hair. It’s baby fine; it’s low porosity; and it’s high density. b) Given that I have wavy hair, maybe I don’t need to wash it every day. c) Maybe I can avoid sulfates sometimes. This is awesome.

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