This essay is part of an 8-minute memoir challenge hosted by Ann Dee Ellis.
Day 13: Your Most Important Hair Moment.
I’ve had a lot of important hair moments that really flopped.
I was not born with the ability to do hair. And I wasn’t even born with the ability to figure out how to do hair.
I’ve always erred on the side of basic when it comes to my day-to-day hair. (Although, in early 1990s elementary school, I did totally rock the Aquanet stiff wave bang.) In middle school and high school, I found my mom’s old hot curlers, and fried my hair each day to get the layered waves I felt were most flattering. And now, I just blow dry my hair straight like nobody’s business. It’s as much as I can handle.
And when it comes to big events, I’m at a complete loss.
8th Grade Graduation
Let me set the scene: Every single girl in the whole entire school was going to a hair salon to get her hair put in a fancy updo. Sure, you might try and tell me I actually was not the only one missing out on this expensive extravagance. But you’re wrong. I am quite certain my parents’ refusal to foot the bill for an 8th grade updo ruined my life.
Instead, I attempted to make my mom’s hot curlers do something fancy. I added in some combs, grimaced at my reflection, and went to graduation. I hated the way I looked, but I didn’t know what else I could do.
Most of my friends glanced at my hair, froze a little bit, and then graciously acted like I looked completely normal.
I was beginning to forget about my appearance when one boy saw me and wasted no time in telling me what he thought. “Rebecca! Oh wow! You look like a little girl!”
I never tried to do my hair for a special occasion again.
I am in awe of people who can use contraptions like curling irons to create beautiful, face-framing curls. I don’t understand how anyone can dye their own hair. And anything beyond a ponytail is an outrageous display of talent around which I can’t even begin to wrap my basic-haired head.
I was ecstatic when I found out my first two children were girls, but I also felt a huge amount of dread whenever I thought about how to do their hair. My babies didn’t wear bows in their hair, and I didn’t have drawers full of hair accessories. Hair was always an afterthought, so it was probably a good idea my firstborn’s hair grew slowly.
But then the dance recitals began.
And dance teachers are so particular about what the girls look like on stage! I mean, barely-brushed hair isn’t acceptable — like ever. Can you imagine?
So I had to buckle down and learn a thing or two. I turned to my hair friend for tips, and found out hair doesn’t have to be so hard. (It also doesn’t seem to be terribly easy, just sayin’.)
My first daughter’s first dance recital required a bun. She was growing out a short bob, and a bun seemed impossible to me. But with some helpful tips, I pretty much rocked the tiny bun.
Think of your proudest moment, and multiply it by 100. That’s how powerful it felt to get that short hair onto the top of her head. I’m surprised nobody has given me an award yet.
I still have to ask friends for help from time to time when a recital requirement is just too much for me to handle.
And I still haven’t figured out how to do much with my own hair.
But with two dance recitals every year — and two dancing daughters — I just might end up being ready to help my daughter at her own 8th grade graduation a few years from now. If not, I’m putting my foot down, and she gets to go to a hair stylist.