Summer Frizz: A Curly-Haired Lament

Hair? I’m writing about hair?  Blame it on my sister Madeline.

She posted on Facebook her search for the magic product that would solve the summer hair problem: frizz, frizz, frizz.  We’ve tried tons of products and all they do is leave our hair heavy with globs of glop.

Some of my anti-frizz attempts.

I recalled an essay I wrote a few years ago in a writing workshop. I can’t believe I wrote about hair even then. I’m sure everyone else wrote about politics, economics, science, or the fate of the world. I wrote about hair.

I have naturally curly, thick hair.  It used to be naturally strawberry blonde but now gets a little help.  But that curly hair was the bane of my existence all through school.

Some excerpts from that essay:

The Breck Girls and Me: Growing up with  Curly Hair

When we were young, my mother would tell the hairdresser to cut our hair short, for the summer she’d say. A pixie. We hated it but didn’t seem to have any say in the matter. My mother seemed to think one style fit all.

In 5th grade, I used my babysitting money to buy  “Curl-Free,”  which of course didn’t work. I wrote the company to complain. “We’re sorry our product didn’t meet your needs,” the company wrote, refunding my $5. Still, taking on corporate America didn’t make my hair look like everyone’s long, straight locks. I washed containers from frozen orange juice and rolled my hair around the cans, securing them with large bobby pins, and didn’t sleep too well. “You got the Holland Tunnel on your head. I‘ll drive my car through, “ my grandfather Abie, said, his voice laden with Yiddish.

My quest for straight hair continued throughout middle school and high school. I’d take scotch tape and wrap my hair over my forehead like a turban, taping as I pulled. I’d pile my hair above my head into elastic and use rollers larger than the orange juice cans.  The smorgasbord of appliances for straightening, blowing out, and curling were many years away. Only old ladies told me “curly hair was a blessing” and  to “think of all the money  I saved on perms.” The Breck girls and the blondes having all the fun didn’t have curly hair.

The carefree look of the late 60’s and 70’s didn’t help either. Everyone tossed long straight, center- parted hair over their eyes and shoulders.  I don’t remember one rock star with curly hair.

My husband remembers that my hair flowed down the center of my back when we met. I tell him it never grew past my shoulders. He winces every time I announce I’m getting my hair cut. Why do men seem to prefer long hair?

For many years, my friend Kathy would ask me when “we’d cut and dye our hair.” As if it was a date we’d have together, like going out for lunch, catching a matinee or shopping.

Short hair meant we had become our mothers.  My mother, 81,  who only started coloring her hair about 10 years ago, always discouraged us from dying our hair. “Too frivolous. Too expensive. There’s beauty in looking your age.  “You don’t need it.”

Now I leave my hair in the capable hands of Basile, my hairdresser, who has naturally curly hair himself. Every visit, he says “you got a lotta hair,” I remind him: “Not too short. It frizzes in front. Don’t cut it in a triangle; I don’t want to look like the Sphinx.”

But the cure for summer frizz still evades me. The search continues.Madeline (the tall, younger one) and me. This was taken at Thanksgiving so our hair wasn’t as frizzy as in June.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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16 Responses to Summer Frizz: A Curly-Haired Lament

  1. Stella Sormani says:

    Hiar gel, hair gel and more hair gel. Also, don’t touch your hair once gelled!

    Like

  2. Madeline Taylor says:

    Kathleen Morrish commented on your link.
    Kathleen wrote: “Have you ever read the book Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey? It really opened my eyes!”

    Like

  3. Madeline Taylor says:

    Kathy Heinzelman
    Are you sure you haven’t come up with a solution. I’m going crazy and your hair always looks gorgeous. My bonnet hair dryer and rollers — that’s for real– just don’t work in the summer.
    Love
    Kathy

    Like

  4. Leslie Carno-Harf says:

    I am with Stella on this although I usually use mousse. And absolutely no touching it. It breaks up curls and makes frizz..

    Like

  5. Thank you everyone for all the advice! Summer and it’s hair ties and bear claws, off my neck. Fall is for fashion.

    Like

  6. Debbie Schleicher says:

    On the frizz…I have found the solution – Ouidad Salon in Manhattan – its on West 57th street. They do great cuts for curly frizzy hair and the products are the first ones i have ever used that work – completely changed my hair. No frizz – just nice curls or when i blow dry it stays straight and doesnt frizz. They have this rake and shake method they teach you to set the curls when they cut your hair. Its the first thing that has worked.

    Like

  7. Lisa…
    I guess my blog reply didn’t go through. That’s fine… it was too long anyway.
    re: hair: daughter Kate had hair like a young Shirley Temple as a child…. ringlets all over her head. I still love it when she lets it go and doesn’t iron it….(She irons it nearly every day). It is not so much frizz as thick billowy curls. You can’t run your fingers through it, but if she washes it and just lightly conditions it, touching it is like kneading bread. Of course, she hates it.
    Me, I have no hair since chemo 10 years ago, so I never have a bad hair day b/c I have a variety of wigs which I rotate at will. (Fortunately no diverse personalities to go w/each wig, yet.) More personal stuff in an email at some point. Suffice to say, I’m happily married 32+ years, I have been plagued with a variety of diseases, but have turned it all into good working with hospice patients. Wouldn’t change a thing. Not crafty… though I try… don’t cycle…. no grandkids… but a wondeful basset hound who I’m sure you are familiar with already.
    Again, I’m sorry for your loss. Sending healing energy to you and your family and, of course, love. Barb

    Like

  8. Terri says:

    i meant to post this ages ago. Growing up in Canarsie at the end of Brooklyn, the neighborhood racial mix was fairly limited: Black or White (no one was caucasian or african american back then). The white was basically the same: jewish or italian. and the white girl’s hair WAS the same, brown and straight. and the choices were two: cut it short or wear it in braids/pigtails to keep it neat. i wanted red curly hair so badly i would have given anything in the world for yours!

    Like

  9. Hey Janis Jopelin and Carol King both were superstar curly heads… and Streisand! There are tons of curly hair rock stars in the 60s and 70s. No doubt loads of other women envy your hair, while you try for something else! If you read many of the comments from my post (Grass is greener), that seemed to be the universal theme in responses! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  10. Pingback: Botched Hair Dying: Kool-Aid, Boxes, & Corrections | cyclingrandma

  11. Pingback: Botched Hair Dying: Kool-Aid, Boxes, & Corrections « Lisa Winkler

  12. Gilly Gee says:

    Don’t worry you’re not the only one to write about hair! http://lucidgypsy.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/a-frizz-eased-mixed-chick/
    Yours is beautiful by the way!

    Like

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