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16: i have a tortured relationship with my hair | by jamelah
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16: i have a tortured relationship with my hair

If you've been around my Flickr stream for any amount of time, you might've noticed references to the communists. Or you might not have. Either way, if you don't know, the communists are my hair. A few years ago (a little over three, if you want to get technical), I wrote a blog post about how to ace a job interview and I said:


"finally got the blowdryer to work with me so that i would not have to appear at the interview looking as though i had just gotten out of the shower. hair looked fabulous, though slightly untamed. decided that untamed hair was not appropriate for job interview, so attempted to pull it back into a conservative knot. of course, my hair is a raging communist and will not stand for conservatism, so i had to settle for a messy knot. whatever."


And that was the beginning. Of referring to my hair as a raging communist, that is, because me, my hair and torture go way back. Way, way back. It's like this:


When I was a kid, I was a little bit of a tomboy, yet I also had a thing for being glamorous. So I guess I was a princess tomboy. Something. What this means is that I had very very long hair (down to my waist) but I spent most of my time running (not walking) everywhere I went and climbing trees and getting in fights and the like. What this meant was that every night, my hair, which is very thick, naturally curly and very much on the unruly side, was a mess of tangles. When my mother would come after me with the hairbrush, I would cower, because getting my hair brushed was my least favorite thing in the world. That shit hurt, yo. And then in the morning it would be a mess of tangles again. My mom would often braid my hair for school (so tight it felt like I couldn't blink), and it was only when it was braided that it wouldn't tie itself into a series of intricate knots that not even sailors could figure out when I wasn't paying attention.


At one point near the end of my third grade year, I somehow managed to weasel out of the regular hairbrushing routine for a day or so, and then ended up with a knot of hair at the nape of my neck that was roughly the size of Montana (naturally curly unruly hair is big), and I decided that my only recourse was to cut it out. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and set to work. When I pulled the handful of hair around to see what I'd done, I immediately started crying. Holding a Montana-sized blob of hair that had, moments ago, been attached to my head was quite unsettling. I stashed the hair in my closet along with the scissors, hoping that I'd be able to hide what I'd done, but I couldn't get over being upset so I eventually (probably 10 minutes later) confessed to my mother. My aunt is a hairdresser and she fixed me up, taking my once waist-length hair (what was left of it) and cutting it into a chin-length bob.


Since that time I've gotten better about hair brushing (I also spend considerably less time running and climbing trees) and I learned all about the importance of really really good conditioner and a good blow dryer. Most of the time it's manageable, even if it is a lot of work.


This summer, I'm living in a house without air conditioning and there have been days when the heat has been unbearable, which leaves blowdrying right out. When I let my hair air dry, it takes forever, so it's like having a personal sauna on my head. Which means that I have been pulling it back into unruly knots, just to keep the sweat lodge off my neck. Which means that while wet and knotted, it plots conspiracies and when I take it down, it's a torturous mess that I have to spend forever untangling. Which means that it's time for a haircut. I won't do it myself, I promise.


The one nice thing about my hair is that when I cut it off, it's instant weight loss. Depending on how long it is at the time of cutting and how dramatic I get, I usually lose between 2 and 4 pounds of hair. Awesome.

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Uploaded on July 2, 2007