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A losing battle: I am not the boss of my hair


By Janet Storm

Sunday, October 7, 2018

After years of stress and struggle, I have to confess, I am close to giving up the fight.

I hate to admit it, but I am not the boss of my hair.

I have battled with my flat, straight locks since I was a child. All I ever wanted was lovely curls.

Every year before school picture day, my mother would twist my hair around pieces of cloth before I went to bed, resulting in ringlets that made me look like a less-attractive version of Nellie Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie.” The one year we forgot about photo day and my hair was straight might well be my favorite class shot — if not for the fact that I was missing my two front teeth. 

You might think that with such horrible school photos results that I would have embraced my straight hair, but you would be wrong. It never looked the way I wanted it to, flopping around my head and falling into my eyes. So in junior high school I experimented with a perm that left me looking like a demented poodle. I was at my wit’s end.

Luckily, a friend introduced me to the magic of the curling iron, which gave me lovely waves for about half a day. By my last class my hair would be back in flop mode, but I least I started the morning with a little confidence.

In high school, I upped the ante. I started using hair spray so my waves would persist until the final bell rang. Sure my hair was stiff instead of swingy, but I was willing to make the sacrifice to keep from looking like I had a mop on my head.

My hair trauma was mostly tamed throughout my high school and college years, although I was still prone to iffy days when I didn’t go through my styling routine. Friends used to tease me about the curl and spray process, but I felt as though my hair and I had reached an uneasy truce and I didn’t want to rock the boat. 

As the years went on, and my hair lost some of its youthful luster, I began to add conditioners and styling products to the ritual. I flirted with mousse, leave-in moisturizers and any number of fancy shampoos to try and keep the faith with my surly locks. But bit by bit, we began to have our differences.

Years of torturing my hair with hot irons and canned chemicals took their toll. So did the aging process. These days my hair is thinner and more flyaway than ever. I curl and spray but my hair seems to have developed a will of its own.

For one thing, my hair has started to flip up when I am trying to curl it under. And it goes flat, even with hairspray and other products.

The truce has been broken. My hair is telling me that it will not bend to my will any longer. If it wants to flop, it will flop. If it wants to form a giant swoop on the front of my head, there’s no stopping it. 

More and more lately, I have been thinking of that straight-haired school photo and wondering if I should give up my dreams of curly hair once and for all. Maybe I could wear a headband to keep it from flopping into my face. 

But then I look at my unstyled hair in the morning and laugh at the thought. I may not be the boss of this mop, but by golly, it is not the boss of me, either.

The battle goes on. I will hold my curling iron like a light saber.

Help me, Nellie Olson. You’re my only hope.

Contact Janet Storm at jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.