About a decade ago, I laid a stake in the ground — publicly — and embraced my curls. In fact, writing about my decision to stop straightening my hair was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog. While I have been known to blow out my hair occasionally in the wintertime, I have been getting curly cuts for over a decade. Therefore, it has pained me to hear Isabelle declare that she wishes she had “straight hair like everyone else” this school year. (Ah, sixth grade. The time when many kids start wishing they looked like anyone else.)
Saturday was a rainy day that kept us indoors. By nightfall, I offered Isabelle to straighten her hair. She was bored and agreed to sit for it — no matter how long it took.
52 minutes (i.e., three styling products, a hair dryer, and a flat iron) later, her hair was “straight.” It was straight, in that it wasn’t curly, but it didn’t look good. It was poofy since she was unable to tolerate the heat from the blow dryer close to her head. Her hair is WAY curlier than mine and I didn’t have the arm strength to do the job a professional stylist would do. To quote Ari, “You look like a lioness, Isabelle.”
As I was taming her curls, Isabelle saw how much work it took me… and how much time. She did NOT enjoy sitting in one place for that long. By the end, she decided a five to ten-minute investment in getting her curls to look polished was better than 52 minutes any day of the week.
But what hurts my mama’s heart the most is that Isabelle, despite my efforts for the past decade, still believes straight hair (i.e., straight blond hair, if you really press her) is better than what she has. While I know most of us would prefer hair that’s different than our own, I am concerned this comes from what’s valued as beautiful in our society. Like all parents, I want my child to believe that she, too, is beautiful especially if she doesn’t look like everyone else. Being confident in one’s own uniqueness is attractive.
But she’s in sixth grade. Perhaps that’s more than I can hope for. Maybe this will have to wait another decade…