The Curse of Frizzy Hair by Sharon O’Donnell

It’s summer in North Carolina, which always means humidity; this year it’s been even worse, with a rainy pattern bringing afternoon thunderstorms almost every day. The air is so thick with moisture you feel as if you can swim in it. This weather is especially annoying for those of us with thick, frizzy hair. Even after shampooing and conditioning with “smoothing” hair products followed by leave-in conditioners and oils, followed by pulling my hair straight with a blow dryer and brush, followed by some work with a flat iron and more hair products, it all goes to hell as soon as I walk out the door. Hair products made toe keep out the humidity do not work; I have about 25 different products in my bathroom that prove it. The latest trend is to get a Keratin treatment, which my sister has had successfully, but there also things on line about people’s hair falling out months later. Risk it or not? If it keeps being this muggy, I will risk it.

Those of us who have had frizzy, curly hair all our lives have grown used to it, but life surely would be easier if we had the straight hair gene instead of the frizzy one. And yes, the gene for frizzy hair has indeed be identified. Perhaps soon they can detect the presence of it in fetuses so that parents of these female babies can start saving up for hair products. We frizzy-haired people know our limitations. We can never go into politics. Holding a press conference on a rainy, humid day would wrack havoc on frizzy hair. And if the event is held outside and cameras are there . . . I don’t even want to think about it. I can only imagine the on-line jokes, newspaper caricatures, and Jon Stewart parodies. If Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton had frizzy hair, politics would not have been an option.

Lifeguarding is not an option either. How many frizzy-haired female lifeguards have you seen by the pool? No, their hair has to be straight so that it will dry perfectly in the sun and not end up looking like a Halloween wig. Sometimes frizzy hair is a viable — or at least understandable — reason not to exercise. You fix your hair to look halfway presentable to go to the gym, and then by the time you work out and sweat, your hair is frizzy again — meaning that you have to go through the whole hair straightening routine again before going out anywhere else in public. And who has the energy or time to go through that routine again? So the alternative is to just put off exercise.

And frizzy-haired people will never be able to have a wedding on the beach. Wind plus ocean humidity = a big no no for us. Thankfully, none of my friends ever had beach weddings either, so I didn’t have to look like the frizzy-haired bridesmaid among those with the smooth hair.

I’ve always wanted to be able to jump in the ocean or the pool, swim, and then get out and have my hair dry smooth. I’m in awe of those who can do this. Or to take a shower and go out in public and just let my hair dry naturally?? Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful!

When I was little — before the days of blow dryers — I had to roll my hair on big curlers with bobby pins and then dry it under one of the those dryers with the plastic hood and hose — for over an hour. My hair was — and still is — very thick, which only adds to the frizziness problem. My self-esteem suffered over the years — especially in late elementary and junior high years — due to my hair. When I was in the fourth grade, my mother and I ran into a cute boy in my class and his mother at a Roses store right after my hair had dried really frizzy after swimming; I hid behind a beach ball display the whole time our mothers talked. Can we say ‘conspicuous’?

And there was the time my 7th grade PE class got caught on the track field when a rainstorm came up quickly, soaking us all. Thankfully, it was the last period of the day and time to go home, so I ran into the locker room and left with a rain coat over my head — not the hood but the entire coat — and buttoned under my chin. Again, conspicuous? But it was better than the alternative.
I also remember an early date with a minor league baseball player and going to see him play — but sitting in the car with the air conditioner going until the last possible minute since it was humid outside.

I will admit that the first thing I said to my husband Kevin when we were alone right after our wedding ceremony was, “Turn on the damn air conditioner.” We had just gotten in his car to go to the reception, and I was suffocating in my wedding dress, even though it was only late April. We still had photos to take and people to greet, and I didn’t want my hair to frizz on the way over to the hotel. Didn’t want to pay a lot of money for keepsake photos when I looked like crap. Kevin never lets me forget that: no sweet nothings or tender terms of endearment – just turn on the damn air conditioner. These first words were eerily prophetic since many of our arguments over the years have been about who moved the thermostat up or down.

Did you see the movie “The Princess Diaries”, in which they made over an ugly duckling plain Jane into a beautiful princess? All they did to bring about that big change was one thing: they made her hair go from frizzy and curly to straight and smooth. That’s all they did. Society’s adoration of women with smooth hair puts those of us that don’t have it at a disadvantage. At least in our minds. So when the weather is muggy, and you see a woman with frizzy hair that’s obvious she can’t control, perhaps now you’ll understand what she’s going through. Frankly, I think we need a support group. Perhaps we could all go have Keratin treatments together.

Tags: , ,