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July 6, 2012

Girls with Curls

katie l. connor

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Subject

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By Katie L. Connor

No one ever believes that my hair is curly. Actually, it's somewhere between wavy and curly with an all-around poofy finish. It's as noncommittal to any style as, well, George Clooney is to any one woman. So for a long time I worked hard, roughly an hour a day, to keep up the charade of sleek hair. I never put my flatiron in my checked baggage — a case of lost luggage might blow my cover. Even my boyfriend was shocked to discover my Mufasa mane on an eco-friendly (read: no electricity) vacation to Tulum, Mexico. "If you still love me after this, then it's serious," I told him in earnest.

For years I resisted chemical straightening. The truth was, I didn't despise my ambiguous curls. They were cute back when they were of the spit variety. But by the time I was in first grade, my dad joked, "You look like Medusa!" It was a comparison I'd declare every time I let my locks dry wild at the beach. To achieve "presentable" results, I needed at least an hour with a diffuser and preferably an extra set of hands. After years of relying on ponytails (middle school), hot rollers (high school), and a fat-barreled curling iron (college), I asked my parents for a pricey CHI ceramic flatiron for my 21st birthday. The results were perfect. I never looked back.

But thanks to this year's unpredictable weather, too many good hair days turned wretched at the first step outside. I decided it was time for the next chapter in my life's hairstory.

At Serge Normant at John Frieda in Manhattan, I showed stylist Ty a picture of me looking like a dead ringer for mop-topped Jim Morrison circa 1966. Ty suggested the medium strength of the salon's new formaldehyde-free frizz-fighting treatment (say that three times fast). For the next three days I couldn't wash my hair or even pull it back in a clip for fear of a crease. Then the moment of truth: the first shower. After, my hair dried into a relaxed, manageable wave. (My bangs, however, still rebellious, required the flatiron.) My new "natural" has freed me from the drudgery of my morning routine, though it's not perfectly polished. So, like my wardrobe, I settle for two looks: straightened for work, loose and undone for the weekend. Oh, dear sweet flatiron, I guess I'll never quit you.

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