06 March 2010

making full claim to your curls: part one

i often get a variety of questions about my hair. 
"has it always been like that?"
"what products do you use?"
"is it REAL?"
"can i touch it?"
"you MUST hate it."

and when i say often, i really mean:
every time i leave the house.

while 90% of the time, these questions are in the form of compliments, it's utterly and totally hysterical because i can generally tell when they are coming. forget eye contact or men staring at my breasts, i get the "hair stare," meaning, a normal human being will stare at the curls on top of my head, as though they are ringlets in colors of psychadelic purple and robust red, like i am wearing a clown wig or something of the like.  then, there is a noticeable illumination, when the person realizes, "geeze, i think that's really her hair!," only to be followed by a compliment or comment.  i have heard it all: lioness (you know who you are), 2-for-1 perm special (you ALSO know who you are), and my particular favorite, from my favorite author, Bréne Brown:

its fair to say that there have been some bad stories, too, and my mother can most certainly vouch for me in this arena.  random people reaching out and groaping my head in the middle of anthropologie (among other places); times when haircuts have gone wrong, very wrong; and conversations that get really awkward, really fast, because really, and truly, both of my parents are white and i don't know what else to say, it's a mutant gene? sometimes i have to defend the authenticity of my curls and that seems like the downside to this physical trait (which generally i consider blessing).

i've taken a few leaps, such as:
  • posing as a model for my art major roommates in college (above)
  • getting my haircut at Ouidad in New York City (i was hoping they were looking for a model! its fair to say i'm still hoping...)
  • taking a leap and got my first real pseudo-afro style last year (and i still love it!)
  • rocking hair accessories like it's nobody's business (especially my prized, thanks to pw)
all of this is to say that day in and day out i make full claim to these curls, and i think that's what attracts people the most. i don't think it's that my curly hair is really all that more curly or vivacious than yours (though I'm sure you're shaking your head right now saying, "um, yeah, it is!"). And while your curl questions and your curl love is so flattering to me and much appreciated, I want to communicate THIS to those of you who are asking: you, too, can have a vivacious head of curly hair.  however, you will have to make the decision to honor its erratic nature,  to embrace the inevitable bits of frizz and to let go of the control.

so here is my question for you:
what advice do you need concerning your [curly] hair?
what is/isn't working?
what questions do you have?
how do you handle your curls?

i would love to open this forum to discussion about curly hair, it's majesty and it's out-of-control-but-beautiful nature. i am here to answer your questions, and my stepmom, alicia, who is a professional hairdresser, and i are planning some fun hair-centric posts (with videos!) for the near future.  please leave your thoughts, questions, and inquiries in the comments section. i promise to check and respond to all of them!

your curly haired queen, Stephanie


Analiese Marie said...

Oh em gee, Stephanie, I LOVE this post! Believe it or not, I actually have super curly hair (which I sometimes blow-dry and straighten), but recently I have been making more of an effort to wear it curly. My biggest fear is that it will somehow be perceived as less "professional" at work. For whatever reason, I think of straight hair as somehow more "business-like." Since I am one of the younger ones at my office, it's important to me that I'm taken seriously and I don't want to make myself appear younger or more girlish. Does that make sense? Maybe you could do a post addressing this issue. I would love to hear your thoughts! My other greatest annoyance is frizz (no surprise there), because my curls don't fall in perfect ringlets so sometimes it can just look...frazzled. I'd love to read a post about how to triumph over the dreaded frizzies!

stephanie alaine said...

wow, yes, yes i hear you on the PROFESSIONAL issue. i totally agree, that curly hair (aka: wild, out of control hair) it had been "pegged" as a bag lady look, and not taken very seriously in the workplace.

thank you for the idea for a great post...these are two very REAL issues that i carry, in my...nest? haha just kidding about THAT!

Lica said...

I was randomly reading blogs when I saw this Curly post. It is delightfull. I have a really curly hair (just like your, in fact) and I figthed against it over my life.. since 4 years I do those (terrible) chemical treatments to straight it. I must say, I'm a happier woman with straight hair. But is is also true that your post made me feel kind of missing my curls. If only I could have them back quickly..but now I have to wait until they grow long enough to cut... no way.. or maybe.

Melita said...

your hair is GORGEOUS!! you wear it so well too! looking forward to photos/videos!! hugs!!

Shelly Kneupper Tucker said...

I loved this particular quote from you. You said it was about "curly hair," but I think it's about life in general:
"however, you will have to make the decision to honor its erratic nature, to embrace the inevitable bits of frizz and to let go of the control."
Would that we could all live our lives that way!
This Eclectic Life

Miss K said...

I love your hair! I wonder how curly it is when it is longer. I have long, curly hair that I always wear up and I am just not brave enough to make the chop yet!

Carolyn said...

You are GORGEOUS, and I LOVE that you own those curls! I can't believe some people (reaching out and touching your hair... really???), but I'm glad you make no apologies. You're a stunning and shining woman in every way.

stephanie alaine said...

@Lica: oh yes, the chemical straightening. scares me but tempts me at the same time. why does the straight hair make you happied? of course, whatever works, works, but i'm just curious, i know straight hair is popular and lovely, too, but i have no doubt your curly hair is to-die-for.

@melita: you're gem as always! i'll trade you a pink strand for a curl ;)

@shelly: thanks for finding wisdom in my eloquently strong together analogy. let's make a banner of it, shall we? can't wait to check out your blog!

@miss k: yay for curly girls!! and...taking the leap from long to short...SO worth it! i love it!

@carolyn: thanks dear! wish we could have hung out in austin and you could have experienced the hair grabbing first hand! gahhh! :)

Anders said...

Wow, I LOVE your hair. I too am a curly girl. Not quite as curly, but its curly enough that I think its my defining feature- so, I can wear a wig or just pull my hair back and straighten my bangs, and many people won't recognize me.

So, do you plop? What products DO you use? :)


Julie said...

I saw this post on your Facebook, and thought it would be an appropriate time to pop in and say hello, I miss you, I hope you're doing awesome . . . and that my biggest curl question for the past several years has been: curly bangs, friend or foe?

Keep up the good-hearted work. <3

BigPerm said...

I have an unruly and wildly curly mane also. My buddy tells me i'm not allowed to cut it because he is into it, and of course i can relate to the daily barrage of comments about it.
i spent years fighting it, but am proud to say that a flat iron hasn't touched my head for the last 3 years, and barring some hormonal change that alters my ridiculous locks, and never will again...fingers crossed.

as for haircuts, i have found a great girl at cutting, in my 28 years on this globe i have NEVER found anyone that could style it. never.