Thursday, May 05, 2011

A Hairy Situation

All week I've been despising my hair. Nothing about it looks attractive or how it ought. I look a sight and it seems like no matter what I do, my hair always looks like the hair of those somber, miserable looking, weather hardened women you see in old tin type photos of pioneers. You know, women who lived in sod houses and bathed once a week in a freezing cold stream and washed their hair with lye. That's exactly how my hair looks.

This hair hatred is part of a vicious cycle that I've been stuck in since my seventh grade permed mullet grew out. My hair is either long and straight or short and straight. When my hair is long, it's flat and I hate it and do nothing but slick it up in a sloppy pony tail. I'll go on like this for a while before deciding that it might have more polish and perhaps pouf in a nice bob. So I'll go chop it off for Locks of Love and enjoy it until I have to wash and style it myself. Am I the only person who tries to go as long as possible without washing my hair after the stylist cuts and dries it because I know once it gets wet that it will never, ever look like they made it look in the salon ever again? So then I'm stuck with flat hair that's short. I'll get mad that I can't put it in a pony tail. I think I look unfeminine. Then there's this annoying thing that my hair does when it's short. One side will turn under in a beautiful page boy, but the other side will totally rebel and flip outward and away from my face and no amount of heat, product or regular beatings will get it to turn inward. That flip enrages me and then, because I can't get my short hair to look how I want, I'll decide to grow it back out, but this time it'll be different. I'll learn to put it up. I'll braid it. This time will be different.

Except it's not and the cycle starts anew.

Right now I'm at the hating my long hair and thinking I'd look more polished and chic with short hair stage. I've been coveting many the side parted, sleek bob lately.

I always thought my problems would be solved if only I had curly hair. I love curls and volume. If I could have big, Texas beauty pageant hair I'd probably be in heaven. But big fancy hair takes work and needs styling and while I am great at makeup, I can't do hair to save my life. My hair styling skills stop abruptly at pony tail. Not that I haven't tried, but my hair is the texture of a quarter horse's mane. It doesn't cooperate and never will. If I try to put it up, it won't smoothe and little pieces stick up everywhere like tufts of grass for the five minutes that the hair style lasts before unraveling. No pin can hold it in. Let's not even talk about curling. I've tried every curling device that exists on this planet and my hair stays perfectly straight.

But people with curly hair want straight hair. Curly haired people are always petting my head with sighs about how their hair is so unmanageable and frizzy and how all they want is straight hair.

In fact, I don't think I've ever met someone who liked his or her hair. I guess hair always looks better on someone else's head. Human beings are never satisfied. We always want the opposite of what we have. This certainly doesn't exist in the animal kingdom. Imagine a Yorkie lamenting his greasy, flat tresses and wishing for the Pomeranian's volume. A poodle doesn't long for a collie's straight coat any more than a short haired cat wants to be a Maine Coon. So why can't people, myself included, just be happy with what nature gave them?

So what do I do? Cut it or leave it? Break the cycle or keep it going? Can I ever be happy with what's on my head?

Maybe I should invest in some really cute hats.


janani said...

Oh WL, I have this ugly curly hair that I try to tame into straight locks with heat. I have tried straightening with chemicals, but they don't work too. And I have too much hair and it always looks big and when I wear it down with no grips, it almost envelopes my face. I would love to have long straight hair.

And I try not to wash my hair for as long as I can after coming home from the salon too.

I used to chop off my hair too, but I think there is more that can be done with long hair than with short ones. Like you said, you can't even put it in a pony tail. How about going for a styling session with your hairdresser rather than a hair cut?

Stephani said...

I'm in the same boat as you are except my hair is really think and curly. I hate it, but people with straight hair always tell me how pretty it is.

Mine is short right now, but I can't stand it, so I'm going to grow it out. Again.

It's a never ending cycle, and unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever be happy with what's on our head.

I do like the hat idea, though.

Jenny @ Fondant is Gross said...

Ask the stylist to do what she/he thinks will look best on you, and to give you tips for easy care. I do that every time I go and I never walk away disappointed.

FreeDragon said...

Mine is straight and curling only lasts until I leave the house. My hair will NOT lie smooth. You wouldn't think straight hair could be lumpy and oddly parted, but my does. My hair is very fine and if I don't wash it every day it's just greasy and stringy. After years of trying to make it smooth, I just gave up. I cut it myself and I don't even try to make it even. It's saggy with various lengths. When I pull it back I never get all the shorter pieces. People tell me my hair frames my face nicely. I put my hair in loose, messy buns and I'm told my hair looks messy chic. My mother has nice, thick, wavy hair, but I did I get that gene? Nooooo.

Emma said...

I think we have the same hair - mine will not hold any styling and does the weird flippy thing too. I tend to get mine cut off when my ponytail starts wrapping itself all the way around my neck at night. I prefer the stylability of medium/long hair (though I only ever do ponytail, a half ponytail-braid, a cheaters french braid, or pigtail braids), but I like to donate as much as possible.

After reading this article (, I started donating to Angel Hair for Kids instead ( - mostly because it's Canadian).

Albany Jane said...

I'm a huge fan of two pig tails. Or, something like snooki-lite. I'm sure this is a terrible comparison, but just pull back a bit of hair on the top of your head. I should find a picture. But it adds a bit of volume, and still looks professional & polished.

Alyssa said...

You have to try curling it with a flat iron! I know it sounds counterintuitive but my hair is coarse, super thick and heavy and won't hold a curl for more than 10 minutes off a curling iron, but if i curl it with a flat iron it works wonders! I'm just now at 26 figuring my hair out - I'll help you even if its cross country!

Liza said...

I have the same problem in that my hair is so fine and straight it just hangs there no matter what I do. It has the added charm of FreeDragon's that it goes greasy if not washed promptly every 24hrs. It doesn't help that I hate styling my hair and can never be bothered to do anything other than let it drip dry.

Anyway, one style I do like is the short messy bob - sort of like that character on NCIS Los Angeles -
That way it has some life without styling aids and doesn't have to be perfectly symmetrical.

Good luck!

Melanie said...

Get a hat like the one Princess Beatrice wore to the wedding. I promise, no one will look at your hair while you're wearing that hat. :)

Anonymous said...

You have gorgeous hair! Think about it really hard. I always wind up cutting my hair when I get tired of it. Then I get annoyed because it won't go in a ponytail.

Anonymous said...

So...I met you the summer you were in Iowa. You may remember, you may not. Either way, I remember thinking that your hair was really pretty. That's all really.

Michelle in Iowa

Anonymous said...

Have you tried going no-poo? It may help your hair problems but then again maybe not.

English said...

I think you are crazy. Having sat next to you for a semester, I know for a fact that you have beautiful hair. People like you give people like me hair envy. You are the girl about whom we mutter "Bitch" when you walk by. Your hair is gorgeous; leave it alone. I think it looks great long, but I have never seen you with short hair. Do what makes you feel good, but remember that, no matter what, you are beautiful. And Baby Lawns got your looks!!!

Kerry said...

OMG- I think you and I have the same hair! Flat and flat and flat... won't curl to save my soul....

And the curl-under/flip-up thing? Maddening!!!

Yeah, I wait a while to wash my hair after the stylist does my hair. I can *never* get it to behave like she can!

Anonymous said...

I love my hair. In fact, my hair is the only part of my physical self that I really love. It's thick with just the right amount of curl.

You need to find a great stylist, not just a *good* stylist. Sit down and talk about the issues you have with your hair. Also the right shampoo can do wonders and I've found that it's not always the expensive salon brands that work best. My fav shampoo, which gives me volume and gloss without dryness, is 'Aussie' (in the purple bottle with a kangaroo logo).

- Maureen

One Mean MFA said...

i don't know what your haircut looks like right now, but maybe you need more layers. It's possible that your layers are too long and making your hair flat. Also, have you tried using a root boost mousse. Regis makes one that is fantastic and it smells really citrisy.

I also think that some people (myself so included) have an ideal hair length, and maybe you've passed your. I know when I my hair reaches a certain length it stops looking nice. I could do a deep conditioning treatment once a week, go the salon and have it blown out, have a Brazilian stylist work South American magic on my hair, and it still won't look good.

I say try the root boost, and if that doesn't work for you, try some more layers, then if all else fails cut it short.

Rachel in Minneapolis said...

My hair does that weird flip thing too! Except I have very very fine hair that also apparently won't behave. I even have a picture I drew of myself in highschool where I drew two j's on either side of my head for my hair, simply because of the flip thing.

Also, I recently found an article on about how to make your salon style (supposedly)last 4 days. It only works for people with long hair, and it looked like it was more work that it was worth, but it shows how many people feel that way.

Me, I've let it go. My mother taught me that you're hair is it's most beautiful when you wear it so that what it does naturally looks good. The trick is finding out what that is. Life is too short to fight with your hair. We have better things to do with our time and it rarely works anyway.

Best of luck finding your signature style! ~R

Anonymous said...

Y'all don't listen to WL. Her hair is beautiful. It is often so shiny that it looks like a fall of wet ink. It is not flat and limp, it is straight and rich. The edge always looks crisp like she just got a fresh hair cut.


Anonymous said...

I totally feel your pain! I have straight/flat hair. I did the cute bob thing for a while, but it started doing the flip in nicely on one side flip out and ugly on the other side. I finally got the hair straightener to get it to flip under on the other side, and it's behaving even after washing! There's a lot of good comments here... try different shampoo, get a good flat iron (I'm serious, I never thought I needed one!). Right now I'm stuck in the growing out phase of my hair sitting annoyingly under the collar of a shirt. I really want to grow it out so I can curl it and make it look like Lea Michele's hair on Glee.... Sadly, I'm probably years away from that length.

A said...

You are absolutely right...we always want what we don't have. I had pin-straight hair growing up. So fine and straight that it would never hold a curl. When i was a teenager, I would get a perm and it would completely fall out within a couple of months. Skip forward several years - I got pregnant with my son and *pow*...I developed a slight wave. By the end of my pregnancy, I had a head full of curly hair that I didn't know what do do with. Seven years later, I still don't know how to style it right. The curls don't lay straight and if I cut it short, my hair sticks out at crazy angles. Now I use a flat iron almost every single day to make my hair pin-straight again. Ironic.

Anonymous said...

I just gave up and went really really short and have stayed there, no more perms, just blow it and spray it to stick up a little-- I am happy with it now.

Anonymous said...

Widelawns has been blessed with a main of hair to die for! She is crazy for thinking anything else. I would cut off my arm to have her gorgeous shiny hair. It never looks bad. I mean never. Give that hair to me!

Indiri said...

I just saw a blog recommended this morning that is doing 30 hairstyles in 30 days and mostly they look pretty easy. Since I cycle my hair the same way and it's on the long side now I'll give some of them a try I think. Maybe it will work for you, too :)

TiciaLicious said...

I was tired of my 18 month old pretending that I was Rapunzel, so I shaved my head. (Well, that and I raised money for St. Baldrick's)

It's been very liberating, having no hair at all. It's growing back in now and is soft and fuzzy and fun to rub.

I highly recommend it. And I bet you could raise a ton of money, too. ;)

Amy said...

I actually do love my own hair! It's thick, curly, coarse and often unmanageable, but it's me. I don't love much about my looks, but my hair is part of my identity and it makes me happy most of the time.

It certainly helps that I've found a curly hair salon who taught me how to really take care of curls (including no shampoo- just no-poo about once a week).

Really, though, just saying I am one person you've now (sort of) met who loves her own hair.

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