Day 13: Hair


Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Thirteen

And on a lighter note…

All my life I have had thick, curly hair. It started out cornsilk blonde when I was a small child, and gradually darkened as I got older, as so many times happens. (It’s back to blonde now, thank you Revlon.) During my teen years, I hated it- my friends would have lovely smooth hair, and there was nothing I could do to achieve that look. My curls were unruly and, I didn’t yet know about flat-irons. Regularly, wimpy ponytail holders would snap as I tried to wrap them twice around my enormous poof. Once was too loose, twice, and *snap* they’d breaks into pieces. I started making my own scrunchies, back when that was a thing, and even long after it was no longer a thing. My hair was big. You could hide things in it- and my brothers sometimes did. I could dive into a swimming pool, and the under-coat (do people have those?) would not even get wet if I rose quickly.

I hated it. For most of my life, I was at war with my hair. I would stare enviously at women with silky, untangled locks. I wondered what it was like to be able to run your fingers through your hair. I tried cutting it short, I tried laying my head down on the ironing board, I tried braids and rollers and chemical straighteners. I finally gave up and just rolled with it, and learned a few tricks and learned about some styling products that helped. And I came to a place of peace with the beast.

My senior year of college, when I was in my thirties and raising three children alone, a strange thing started happening. I noticed my ponytail wasn’t breaking the elastics anymore. At first, it was no big deal. But then showering became a horror show, with hand-fulls coming out with my shampoo. I didn’t have any medical insurance, I was a single mother with three little kids, no support, carrying an overload of college credits every quarter, year round, and I didn’t have time to worry about my hair. Within a few months though, my long, thick hair was ragged, and I got worried. I started to think something terrible was wrong. I called a friend who is a doctor and described to him what was happening. He asked “Are you under a lot of stress?” Stress? See above.

He told me stress could cause hair loss, and I needed to watch my nutrition and start taking better care of myself. He also responsibly said it *could* be other things too, but that taking better care of myself was a good starting place.

I did the best I could to manage my stress and finish out a 19-credit quarter. I started taking better care of myself and trying to exercise and eat better. It helped. Slowly.

My hair gradually started to grow back and the shower horror-show ended. But I’ll never complain about thick, unruly, curly hair again.