Girls with Curls
You twirl it, twist it, straighten it, and sometimes lop it all off and start over. Four curl-challenged women explain how they came to go with the flow.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Subject
THE BIG BOUNCE
By Caroline Smith
IN COLLEGE, I was known for my Astropuffs clouds of bouncing curls that sprouted from my signature pigtails. A friend coined the term during freshman year and it stuck. To this day, the first thing people notice about me are my curls, and I love them. But I haven't always felt this way.
As a teenager, I was determined to coax my hair into whatever trendy style of the time: the flippy, feathered mullet; the sky-high shellacked bangs (mine, awkwardly punctuated with a spray of ringlets); a boy-short pixie that led to an episode where I was mistaken for "sir." I longed for sleek strands to my waist or a pristine Louise Brooks bob, anything architectural. I even tried smoothing it with the harsh lye straightener made for African-American hair.
But when I left high school, I finally changed my mentality: I no longer wanted to fit in; I wanted to stand out. I realized that straight hair didn't match my face or my personality. Curly hair felt quirky, eccentric, bohemian all things I embodied.
By the time I moved to New York for my first job in 2001, my confidence had flourished. I admired the few actresses brave enough to let their spirals loose Meg Ryan, Keri Russell and vowed never to give mine up. Still, at times, especially at work, my curls have been a hindrance. I'm in a perpetual state of bed head and often don't feel polished.
Styling my hair is a true science: I've learned that most tools blowdryers, brushes, combs aren't for me. Don't even get me started on diffusers they make my hair crunchy, big, awful. I rely on my hands instead. I shampoo my hair twice a week, tops. But every day I wet and condition, towel dry, scrunch, apply cream styler, and leave it. When it's precisely half dry, I add pequi oil and I'm out the door.
I have yet to meet a hairdresser who can get this right. Whenever I go to the salon, I pack an elastic and pull my hair into a pony as soon as I leave.
I admit I use my curls as armor. I feel exposed without them. The whole tousled thing makes me feel sexy, and my husband adores it. When we had kids, I desperately wanted them to have curls, too. My older daughter, Beatrice, has stick-straight (and beautiful) hair like her dad's. The younger, Vivian, is sporting a rather unfortunate combo at the moment: curly in back, straight in front. Maybe she'll grow out of it. Or if not, hopefully, like me, she'll learn to love it.