“I’d like you to cut my hair to curl,” I told Lani, my stylist, when I went for a haircut in late June.
“Really?” she asked raising her eyebrows. She’s been cutting my hair for the better part of the past three years and I’ve always been all about long layers, blow-outs, and having her flat iron my hair.
“Well, it’s too hot and humid for me to keep wasting my time straightening my hair everyday,” I confessed telling a partial truth.
“Okay. How much do you want to take off?”
You can figure out where the conversation went from there. The balmy weather we’ve been having is only part of the reason I’m going curly. The real reason I’ve decided to embrace my natural curls is because I want my daughter to do the same.
When Isabelle was a baby (i.e., before she reached a year old), she would willingly sit in her Nap Nanny at the doorway of my bathroom, and watch quietly as I blew out and straightened my hair. As she got older, her willingness to sit and watch dwindled. Therefore, I found myself trying to do these things before she woke up or after she went to bed. What a waste of sleeping baby time! There are so many other things I’d rather be doing (e.g., reading, writing, catching up with family/friends on the phone, exercising) or should be doing (e.g., paying bills, working on the manuscript I haven’t touched in over six months). Why was I wasting my precious time straightening my hair?
To that end, should Isabelle become interested in watching me straighten my hair with the same rapt attention she used to have, what will she glean from the experience? Three things came to mind:
- Mommy should be playing with me.
- Mommy isn’t happy with how she looks.
- I have curly hair like Mommy and I want my hair to be straight like Mommy’s too.
NONE of these three messages are ones I want her to internalize. First of all, if she’s watching me straighten my hair, then shame on me. I should be playing with her. Second, I am pretty happy with how I look. (Sure I’d like to lose a few more pounds, but I’d never say that in front of Isabelle. I’ve come to believe that straightening my hair in front of her will lead her to believe that I’m unhappy with who I am. Not the kind of message I want to send to her.) Third, I love Isabelle’s curly hair! There’s no way I would do anything to damage her beautiful hair with the kind of heat one would have to use to straighten it.
One of the many things I’m teaching my daughter to do is to read the world. Right now, mommy is a huge part of her world. Therefore, I want her to read me in a way that makes her realize I am satisfied with who I am. Hence, the straightening products on my bathroom vanity have been tucked away and replaced with products for curly hair. My flat iron hasn’t seen the light of day in nearly two weeks. I’m now walking through life as the curly haired woman I am.
Inevitably, I will smooth out my hair again. Maybe it’ll be when we go to synagogue for the high holidays. Or maybe it’ll be the next time my husband and I hire a babysitter for a date night. (For the record, my husband, who also has curly hair, prefers my hair curly.) However, I will think twice before picking up my blow dryer and flat iron again. I want Isabelle to see me embrace my curls so she will love her own (and be happy with who she is when she looks in the mirror).