Lessons Learned from Hair Extensions

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair.” — Audrey Hepburn, The Beauty of A Woman 

True. But we still want to feel great about our tresses.

I had my hair cut last week by my friend, June, who I hadn’t seen in years. (Yeah, we month names attract. ;)) “Your hair is so long and healthy!” she yelped when I arrived. “What happened?”  I laughed and told her I’d swapped acting and modeling for writing. That truthful answer never really struck me until then. Since taking on writing full-time, I think less about my hair—perhaps less than ever.

As a kid, when someone asked me what I liked about myself, I’d reference my hair. I remember walking down the long hallways at Chelsea Heights Elementary, swishing my long blonde hair on purpose. Air catching my locks while swinging was one of my most beloved sensations. And styling one another’s hair provided endless entertainment for me and my friends.

By the time I discovered boys, that changed—not because they desired it, or even noticed. I just wanted to feel pretty. I wanted curly hair. Strawberry hair. My best friend Jill’s hair. Anything but my plain, straight, holds-a-curl-as-well-as-paper hair. But I never had a hair complex until I became an actress.

I was standing in the dressing room, about to go on the Tonight Show when a fellow actress approached and gave me unsolicited advice. “I used to have hair just like yours,” she said. “Then I tried _____.” She went on to describe the hair therapy she’d received in Beverly Hills and the fancy follicle stimulator that induced the lusciousness of her tresses—the lusciousness my “thin, scraggly” hair lacked. Part of me found the ordeal hilarious, another wondered if she was trying to damage my performance. I laughed it off, but later that night stood before the mirror, wondering if she had a point.

By that time in my life, I’d already overcome some deep-rooted insecurities. So while the woman’s insinuations didn’t make me feel less valuable or send me bolting to the Hair Therapy ER, they got me thinking. I started researching hair extension extensions. Noting the hefty price, I stashed the tactic in my mind’s “hopefully someday” file.

As chance or fate would have it, one of my next modeling jobs involved hair extensions. I’d had extensions at previous shoots. (In case you aren’t aware: That silky “stepped out of a salon” hair in shampoo commercials and magazines? Not real.) This time, the stylist asked if I’d like to keep them. (Would I?!?) I paid her a modest fee and she swapped the clips for glue.

Within an hour I had Barbie hair. Hours after that, I felt sorry for Barbie.

“If I hold my arms out, I won’t fall over.”
— Heavy Hair Barbie

The little glue-y things securing the extensions felt like itchy cling-ons to my scalp. By night, they became aggravating rocks on my pillow. And I learned a harsh truth: You can’t just get up, brush your hair and go with hair extensions. They require TLC. A lot of it. If I didn’t use a hairdryer, they kinked up and mismatched the texture of my real hair. Even with a hairdryer, I had poor luck. Drying and styling took what seemed like forever, and never once did they turn out remotely salon-esque. Close friends didn’t notice I had them—partly because I surrendered to ponytails.

Weeks later I had the extensions removed, and left the salon as though walking on air. I’d never felt more grateful for my fine, light-weight, glue-and-pebble-free hair. I teared up driving home, spouting mental love and apologies to my hair for not appreciating it sooner.

In my 10-plus years of modeling, crazy things were done to my hair. It’s just hair, right? That’s what I figured. And styling was part of the job. In Paris, an artist turned it into a tall, ratted sculpture. In New York, a designer glued human hair to my eyelids. (Not my hair, thank goodness.) I’ve had thousands of bobby pins poked in odd ways and places, including accidentally, my scalp. And my hair’s been exposed to more hot irons—flat, kinking and curling—than I’d like to count. All in the sake of beauty, artistry and paychecks.

Not until visiting June did I realize how much healthier my hair has grown lately, or the damage that over-styling and fussing had done over the years. The experience reminded me that the more we fixate on our “flaws” by stepping away from our authentic selves, the more likely we are to suffer. The happier we are, the more beautiful we feel and appear. To make matters even brighter, I have yet another reason to cherish my writing life. It’s dang good for my hair.

What has your hair taught you? Has a drastic change helped you appreciate your natural locks? Any “hairy” or hil-hair-ious experiences to share? 

Leave a comment


  1. August, I’m sending you a link to the time I got my hair straightened.

    Because you know, I’m a curly girlie.

    This post was written back in 2010, before we met. But I thought the keratin treatment was going to be the best thing ever. ANd it was fine.


    It was so much more work than I could have ever imagined.

    So enjoy.


    PS: Save one of your “Lessons Learned” for me. *hint hint* This would have been a great one for my “LessonLearned” series! 🙂

  2. Wow, your post couldn’t be more timely! It comes just an hour after I said to a friend that I wanted to grow my hair long like John Lennon in The Ballads of John and Yoko, LOL. 🙂 Well, I’ve never had long hair before, I have always had short hair like the one you see in my Gravatar, so I want to see how I look like with long hair. Besides, it would nice to wash my hair everyday so the strawberry smell lats longer. LOL.

    And one more thing, August, more than 10 years of modelling and now turning into a full-time writer? Wow, you’re courageous. Salute!

    Subhan Zein

    • LOL You’d look (and smell) great with long, strawberry-infused hair, Subhan.

      Thanks for the kind words! Quitting fashion and film for writing was one of my all-time best decisions. 🙂

  3. I just cut all of mine off and I have never been happier with it! I had heard that extensions ruin a woman’s hair and it never really looks natural…
    It used to be your job to focus on your looks. I can’t imagine the pressure!

    • Extensions can definitely cause damage, especially if you go with cheaper products and stylists—which is tempting, seeing as they are crazy expensive. And if you don’t take great care of them, which I struggled to do, your natural hair breaks easily. It’s definitely a relief to not have to think much about my appearance nowadays. 🙂

  4. amyshojai

     /  September 25, 2012

    That was me with the long, straight, won’t-hold-a-curl hair and I spent years going to bed in curlers and bruising my scalp. I lusted after my cousin’s gorgeous naturally curly (Afro-curly!) tresses. And of course, she wanted straight, flow-y HALO commercial hair. So I curled. And she straightened.

    When we moved to Texas 20+ years ago and that wind a-whippin’ my Fara Fawcet-esque ‘do into my mouth and eyes, that was the turning point. Cut it off and (aside from one ill-advised relapse) have kept my hair short (but permed!) ever since. Shake-and-go poodle-esque is now my look that takes almost no time. It sure does lift a weight off when you start thinking about comfort and health rather than looks. (I don’t do spike heels anymore, either!).

    • It’s amazing how often we see others’ hair as the “greener” on the other side. I think it’s natural to admire what we don’t have, but neglecting to appreciate what we do is damaging. I love the Fara Fawcet-esque story! Shake-and-go poodle-style seems right up your awesome alley. 😉

  5. Great article, August. It’s so important to discuss the importance of self-acceptance, especially as women, who are supposed to uphold a certain idea according to airbrushed marketing standards. I went through a short phase of coloring my hair every shade imaginable and was never satisfied…because it didn’t look right. Now I’m much more low maintenance and back to natural. It’s the best!

  6. Running from Hell with El

     /  September 25, 2012

    I have the same won’t hold a curl flat as paper hair and I’ve grown to adore it, even if only because its length and unkempt unruly nature annoys my mother in law to no end (mischievous grin). What I’ve grown to love about my hair is that it makes me, a lifelong tomboy and jock, feel feminine and even (shy smile) perhaps sexy, you know? I plan to keep it long even when it turns white. I always thought long white hair on a woman looked like the ultimate in unexpected self-acceptance–which is always cool and laudable.

    And that’s the whole point of your post, isn’t it? The power of self-acceptance, and the destructive force of self-abnegation. Cool.

    • I’ve always admired white hair in older women, too, El. Worn with confidence, it shows so much beauty and grace. I’m happy to hear that you’ve embraced your hair, and gain such awesome benefits.

  7. prudencemacleod

     /  September 25, 2012

    Hi August. Wow, we always think of a model’s life as so glamorous and fun. You sure have given us a few reality checks and I thank you for this one especially. I’ve been wondering… no ladies, vanity does not diminish with age,… but now I think I’ll just stick to writing for my hair.
    Thanks again for a great post.

    • Writing as hair treatment. We should open a salon! I’m touched that you found this helpful, Prudence. The model’s life certainly has its perks, but perpetual glamour isn’t one of ’em. 😉

  8. Oh what a lovely post August! In a society obsessed with looks its amazing how much time we waste fixating on our physical flaws. How horrible of that actress to make that comment to you about your hair! Ugh! She might have had nice hair but you should have told her to work on her inner beauty instead! 😉

    And as for the fake hair in shampoo commercials, all I’ll say is: I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! 😀

    • I’ve wondered about that woman, Nisha. I hope she’s found ways to deepen her inner-beauty, too… Not that she didn’t have any then. I just wonder if she saw or appreciated it. You are too quick and bright for the shampoo companies! 😉

  9. Another great post, August!
    I can’t count how many different cuts and styles I’ve had. It has been long, bobbed, really short in the back and long in the front, short, and everywhere in between. Not pixie short though – I just couldn’t bring myself to that point. lol! Its also been many colors – black, all sorts of shades of brown, and several shades of red, which happen to be my favorite. OH, I even once had burgundy highlights. Yeah, it was the 80s. 😉 I may be one of the few people who love their natural curls. Mine looks like a loose spiral perm and I love it.
    What have I learned? That my hair is typically my tell sign at what I’m feeling during that phase of my life. Right now, I’m learning to be me and accept myself as I am – flaws and all. And wouldn’t you know my hair is long, free-styled, curly, and I rarely use product any more. Though, it is due for a bit of trim. 😉

    • Isn’t it crazy what happens when we let go? The same holds true for weight and other aspects of appearance. Everything sort of falls into place… though yes, we still need trims. 😉

  10. My hair is really long, and I’ve been growing it out for almost three years — but lately I’ve been having this horrible sticky problem. I talked to a stylist lately, and she thinks my hair is just way overdried (it’s colour-treated). Now I have a bunch of queued up, expensive products to buy to fix it if I want to keep it long. It’s exhausting!

    But every time I have it short, it’s so much more work.

    • Hmm… Have you tried eating more omega-3s? 😉 It can be tough to figure out what’s more important—convenience, aesthetic perks and financial cost. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  11. I realized recently that I go through the same cycle almost yearly. I grow my hair long because that’s what I think is feminine and girly. But then I get tired of it getting caught in everything and I end up putting it up in a pony tail everyday. So, then I cut it and come to the conclusion that shoulder length or shorter looks best on me and fits my lifestyle. But, then another year goes by and I find myself growing out my hair again. Hopefully, this time I’ve learned the lesson for good. We don’t have to have long hair to be beautiful. 🙂

    • That’s one huge perk of hair. We can always change it! I like that you change your do when you get tired of your current style. If you decide to stick with short, I know you’ll rock it, Emma!

  12. Shannon Esposito

     /  September 25, 2012

    I kinda like the blue hair on you! lol My mom was a hairdresser, so I’ve had every imaginable cut, color, style in my life. No extensions, though. Now days, I pretty much just let it dry natural and put it up in a ponytail. The Florida humidity is a tough battle to fight!

  13. Hair on eyelids = ICK! The things we do for men and money…

    I think the beauty thing that I’ve chased around the most is the spray tan. I love to have the color, but DAMN it’s a ton of work. Plus, now they’re saying it might cause cancer. Sigh….

    Love the post, and I’ll confess that I’ve never had hair extensions. I used to contemplate them, but thanks to you, that’s one less thing on my “maybe some day” list!

    • True…and sometimes for art or ourselves. I’ve had many bizarre photo shoot experiences, but that one definitely stands out. 😉 Glad you found the post helpful!

  14. New reader (thanks to Ms. Lamb). Love this post. Hair has taken up too much of my time and energy over the years. Best thing that ever happened to me was having my hairdryer break and no time to buy a new one. Turns out my hair does just fine without all the manipulation. Liberated by a broken appliance 🙂

  15. In elementary school it was all the rage to have a kiwi perm. Except that I had poker straight medium-thick hair. Finally talked my mom into paying for the perm, and it lasted a week. My hair just does what it wants. Funny, after I had kids my hair got curlier, so now I’m really happy with it – it’s got enough curl to be attractive if I do nothing with it, but will straighten if I want it too. Best of both worlds. I love my hair now – but growing up the positive feedback I ever got was about my bust size and my nose. Odd features to comment on IMO. lol Great post.

  16. Lovely post, August. Are there similarities between modeling and writing? Just curious.

    My best friend when I lived in Thailand (a Brit) told the story of when she went into a cheap Bangkok salon to get her hair coloured. She pointed to the colour (a red, I think) on the fake, plastic hair chart. Evidently the stylist missed/forgot/inverted a number when she went into the back to pull out the dyes. Instead of getting colour 0549 (or sim), she got colour 0049 (or sim), which was BLUE. Not old lady blue. Thing 1 and Thing 2 blue.

    She was utterly traumatized, as were the women in the salon.

    • HA! That is hysterical, Leanne. Hopefully she thinks so in hindsight.

      Great question about modelings versus writing. There are some similarities—the performance aspect, lots of daydreaming, independence and hmm…rejection and insecurities. 😉 But I’d say the photographers and stylists are a bit more closely linked. I sense a potential post in there. Hmm…

  17. I have always had fine straight hair a little on the thin side — it’s incredibly soft as a baby’s hair, which is only nice if someone is touching it and says, “wow your hair is so soft!” 😀 – but, in my 40’s I cut it all off – boy-short, and kept it that way at least 10 years, vowing never to have longer hair EVER again – something happened about a year and a half ago – I began growing it out – and a friend highlighted it for me — then I grew it more and began having it professionally highlighted – now it’s longer than it’s been in 30 years (brushing my collar bone) and I admit I like the feel of it – the feminine of it – the way it swings around (a little anyway) how I can throw in into a ponytail and it swings gaily as I run/aerobics. Who knew hair could make me feel so good! *laugh* — while my short hair made me feel funky and fun and kickass, my longer hair makes me feel something a little different – like I can skirt the edges of pretty if I hide my face with my hair *laughing!*

    Who knew the power of hair?

  18. kinleybaker

     /  September 25, 2012

    I had extensions for a while. It was everything I’d always wanted. And nothing like I imagined. They were SO much work! I think it’s why I’m allergic to my hairdryer now. It took hours to blow dry. And they were so heavy. I completely relate to that free feeling. Great post.

  19. I’m just so happy you’re a writer. This post is awesome. I want to take the NOW you and travel back in time to the college group I worked with that did diversity education. We came up with many posts about gender issues, and I love your story and how it reminds me of those learning moments.

    Now go youtube India Arie’s song I Am Not My Hair. You need to get your jam on!

  20. Yup, I had the thin, oily, stick-straight hair all throuuh childhood. Started perming it at 16 and never stopped until I was 29 and pregnant. Then a strange thing happened: my hair grew long and wavy, and I haven’t permed it since, because it’s what I always wanted! All I have to do is round-brush it a little and I love it!

    • A similar thing happened to my mom with menopause. Her straight her went BOING! Just as she’d always wanted. So glad you’re enjoying the same. 🙂

  21. I remember my sister getting extensions a few years back–and she took them out less than a week later! She also said it was too uncomfortable!

  22. Great post, August! I seem to be caught up in Emma’s cycle. Shoulder length looks and works best but within a year, I’m craving long hair again. I have no idea why. LOL It’s really long right now, but am about to get it cut to shoulder length again. 🙂 I love when you post about self-acceptance. I struggled with this for years and am just coming into my own. Better late than never. 🙂

    • There’s nothing wrong with changing things up, Rhonda. You could always try clip-in extensions you put in yourself. Some of my friends love them to wear for special occasions. In either case, loving ourselves regardless is the most important thing. I’m thrilled to hear that you’re coming into your own. It’s a crazy-empowering place to be!

  23. You describe your hair exactly the same way I describe mine: fine and limp, won’t hold a curl. I’d call my hair thin, but beauticians have assured me I have a lot of hair–just fine hair.

    Yesterday on Facebook, I told you the results of my experiment with short hair. For those who missed it, I looked like I was trying out as an extra on Alvin and the Chipmunks. Short hair brought out the roundness of my cheeks and the fact that I am a little bucktoothed.

    Needless to say, I wear my hair long. When I worked in the public, I wore my hair the same way Delta Burke wore hers on Designing Women. Yes, really. I like big hair.

    Now that I don’t work in the public, I keep a perm in my hair so it isn’t just so flat and limp. I get a spiral perm using pink and gray rollers. When I first leave the salon, I have an afro. But it relaxes over a couple of weeks, and I look like Slash. After a few months, I look like Robert Plant–or maybe Stevie Nicks–looked in the 70s.

    I am embarrassed to admit the look works with my long hippie skirts and my flowing peasant blouses. LOL

  24. Kourtney Heintz

     /  September 25, 2012

    I have really fine blonde hair. I always wanted curly red hair. But after I have red hair for a while, I end up missing the blonde. Because at the core, that is part of who I am. And it is really about being comfortable with who I am and not pretending to be someone I’m not.

  25. That eyelid hair freaks me out. Hair extensions almost killed me once. I had them way back in the 80’s and the first time I ran into the ocean I almost didn’t come back out. They are super heavy! Who knew? Well, me after that. I think mine lasted a month, but I was too active back then to keep them up. They take way too much work. Now I keep my hair about shoulder length. Any longer and I just put it up in a ponytail.

    I just love how you take simple things and turn them into fun life lessons.

  26. I HAD thought about extensions, but I’m cured of that now – LOL!

  27. Great post August, written in your usual jaunty yet thought provoking style.
    Why is it that most women are ultimately dissatisfied with their appearance? And why are we not reared to support each other rather than compete, as with the unsolicited advice you received just before appearing on live television?
    Good for you that you could see the absurdity of those remarks; someone with deep rooted self esteem issues could be left feeling very disempowered in that situation.

    In an interview with Carré Otis, she spoke to me about the media’s role in imposing impossible standards for women to live up to. She said, “…this concept is also perpetuated by us as women and as mothers. The very way we speak of one another and about one another and then speak or feel about ourselves carries that energy.”

    You reveal that the reality of caring for your silky locks was vastly different to the illusion you held prior to getting hair extensions. This is true of wearing skyscraper heels, starving ourselves to achieve a flat stomach and a myriad other images we buy into.
    Fashion and beauty are multi gazillion industries feeding our insecurities. It is time we women started fighting back by supporting each other and reminding ourselves that we are perfect just as we are. We need to celebrate our individual differences and even our flaws. How boring, if we all looked like clones!
    And as you wisely say “the happier we are, the more beautiful we feel and appear.”
    Beauty truly is an inside job.

  28. August that link for my Carre Otis interview is – http://www.goddessmeca.com/carre-otis-interview/

  29. Love the post, August. What you describe is why I’m on a quest for ‘natural’ hair treatments (currently Borax {because I seem to be allergic to shampoos} and coconut oil). I’m not really into the whole damaged/Bozo the clown look.

    Hair disasters? Plenty of them. My mom made my sister and I wear ‘Pixie’ cuts when we were kids…SO not a good look for either one of us. Then I went through a curly perm stage, hoping each one would look better than the last (Bozo hair on steroids EVERY time…I have too much hair for that). Then the ‘couple inches off my mid-back length hair…a couple of days before Christmas…turned into barely below my shoulders (thanks to a stylist who doesn’t like long hair-first and last time there!).

    I’m most grateful for the ‘almost’ disaster. One hot summer day, teenage Kristy was visiting her cousin. Tired of the thick hair on my neck (and apparently too stupid to put it in a ponytail or braid), I grab her thinning shears…and a thick hunk of my hair, position the shears up near my temple….and hesitate. Thank goodness. SOMETHING didn’t feel right, so I dropped the handful of hair…and cut a little from a few strands at the very bottom. Pinking shears, not thinning shears. Whew! THAT could have caused a miserable year or so. 🙂

  30. Great post, August! I color my tresses. My natural color was Black Irish black as a child and there are still hints of it along my widow’s peak, but the overwhelming encroaching color, since my teens, has been silver. Not gray, even though I wrote a post about them being gray, but truly: silver. When the silver color comes in and grows about a half- to a three-quarter-inch long (baseball caps help) it actually looks pretty cool, swept off my face into a tight pony tail. The thing is though: I just cut my bangs, so that needs to grow out.

    If anything: I’ve learned that I’ve got what I’ve got and even though I’m getting older, I still look too young (truly) to have such staggeringly bold silver hair. And there isn’t enough of it yet for me to make the final transition. When it is time, I’ll likely cut it pixie short and let it grow out because I have no patience for growing it out and coloring it in stages and alalalal alalaalalalalalalaaaaaa. See? In the meantime, I’m gonna deal. I barely ever blow-dry it and the only time it sees an iron is at the salon.

    But the hair must be healthy if it’s gonna be long and unhealthy, it just looks crazy and if it’s too long (per our age, I’m all about a nice chin length bob once i hit 50) and unhealthy… it reminds me of the eye-patched Helena Bonham-Carter witch character in “Big Fish.”

    In the end: I loved how you showed us how when you do what you love (the writing) you get healthier; that’s sexy. (and those eye lashes: crazy!) -m

  31. Hmmm, what my hair has taught me….

    Three things:

    That bald is beautiful
    That I am follicle-ly challenged
    And that my bald spot is really a solar panel for a sex machine 🙂

  32. Raani York

     /  September 25, 2012

    My hair thought me that I have to be happy with what I got. I’ve got shiny completely straight hair, long and blond – and more than usually three women together… Many hair stylists have already had difficulties combing and styling my hair.
    And it looks differently every single morning.
    But I figure for some reason I got all this hair and that’s why I’m happy with it. 🙂

  33. lovely post, August. I had great hair until the dreaded….change. now it’s thin and limp and kinky. it’s almost impossible to get a good cut because of how it lies and of course, I’d rather have it colored because i’m not a pretty shade of gray. what to do? what to do? hmmm

  34. Hey August, You beat me to it. I had this topic on my list of possible blog posts. I think you did it justice far better than I would have with your tales from acting and modeling, and the pictures to go with them!

    I’m with Catie, I can’t do short hair. My nose suddenly becomes huge and dominates my face when I don’t have long tresses to draw the eye downward.

    I think it is important to go with the style that makes us feel good about ourselves, that feels right for us. I perm and color, but only to enhance what I already have. To be the ‘best me.’

    Thanks for such a great post!

    • Agreed! Finding what works for us hair, writing and life-wise matters most.

      I hope you’ll still consider posting on the topic. We each bring uniqueness to topics, and I know yours would rock!

  35. What a fabulous post August.
    You know, I have had a repeat of a similar experience with gel nails. I love them. They are gorgeous. I LUST gel nails and the perfect, shiny French manicure. But…every single time I get them, they hurt and ache for a day afterwards and they only look good for about 3 days before they start lifting and raising and looking awful. Eventually I get tired of it and tear them off and it takes my real nails about 3 months to totally heal. Even when I’ve had them removed professionally or grown them out, from the nail bed filing, my real nails take months to recuperate.
    I’ve learned much the same thing…I might as well find a way to be happy with an love my nails as they are…healthy, free, fabulous and short. I can type easier on my blackberry and if I have an itch, I can actually scratch it…not to mention, I can really pick stuff up…
    Hair, body, nails…whatever…we all need to be more accepting of ourselves as we are…embrace that, celebrate it…and love it!
    Amen to gorgeous hair…as is!

  36. I’ve never done the extensions, but I used to perm it in the 80’s. It was horrific; I look back at pictures and am reminded ‘oh yeah, I DID have big hair.’ No more!

  37. Hi,
    Here is another one I love. I went through the same thing with my hair. As an Afro-American, I permed my hair so that it wouldn’t kink up, and bleached it trying to get it to turn blond and all of those other unhealthy things that one does to try and look like others.
    It took some time before I realized and accepted that my kinky, coarse, hair was absolutely fantastic and didn’t need any perm, nor straightening comb and that I looked my best when I wore, my cornrows, braids and afro. In order to finally get to this conclusion, my hair was so damaged that I had to have my head shaved. As my hair started growing back, I had already made myself the promise that chemicals were out! Normal black hair is coarse and kinky. It is dry and need special kinds of oils. It shrinks in moist climate. Our hair can also take extensions when added and plaited into the air. It is an old African trait about our hair, but you should not keep them in to long. Most keep them four to six weeks. It is detrimental to wash my hair everyday, because it loses it liveliness. Since I live in Germany, I wear cornrows or braids. I wash my hair every two weeks. To wash it more would deaden it and I oil my scalp. It shines the first day and looks very healthy.
    Finally, I am a lazy person when it comes to hair. I don’t like spending a lot of time with it. So, again, cornrows or braids suit me just fine. I get up in the morning, remove my scarf or stocking that I have over my head and voila! And I feel so good about myself now. I know that my hair represents me and who I am. I only wish that I had known this before. It took coming to Europe to find out how important my hair was to me and how much of wearing and sporting it naturally did to building up my own acceptance of myself.

    Love you August and thanks for writing this. The article let me express my inner feelings about my own hair as well as black women’s hair. By the way, I did a blog article on my U.K. website about Black hair some months ago and espoused simliar discoveries about myself that you have shared with us.


  38. August,

    So I forgot to add this to my comment. It’s from the “Don’t Touch Your Hair When In A Foul Mood / After A Break-Up” files. During the summer betwixt my junior and senior high school years, I was dumped. Plain and simple. The guy decided to go after the gal who set us up. It was pretty devastating for me because I was into this person a lot. Both of them actually were good to me and well, I won’t go into the obvious friction between me and my friend who’d set us up; we are still best of friends but it was hard.

    Backtrack: that summer, I worked as a shampoo girl at a high-end hair salon run by very flamboyant, wealthy and chatty Lebonese brothers and cousins of questionable intentions and judgment. After he dumped me, I had to go to work. These stylists were jet-setters and totally unfaithful to their wives, but they kept them fat and happy with diamonds and European sports cars and big houses in fancy neighborhoods in the D.C. metro area.

    I was almost 17. I was devastated. I was angry and sad and dejected from rejection. I showed up for work. They knew what was up as another friend I also worked with told them and after the shift was over, at 9pm and we closed up the shop, they got me drunk.

    They cut my black hair all jagged and crazy looking (I was all for it because I was loopy) and also stripped its color (I was in that bonnet with the tendrils in the white goo for about an hour) and then dyed it all cranberry. So I was cranberry and gold on top and black on the 1/4″ hair below my ears. I continued to imbibe. They turned me around to show me my hair and I cried. And laughed. I was all over the map. 17, drunk, half & half cranberry golden tendrilled hair. I looked like a punk jellyfish.

    Luckily, I happened to be wearing one of my mother’s vintage Lilly Pulitzer golf skirts and matching pink sleeveless top. Despite the mass quantities of product (Paul Mitchell’s Spritz and Sebastian’s Freeze Hold [or something like that]) used on my coif, the look did not gel until my friend took me to her house and we stole her brother’s leather jacket and I wore her combat boots. Now I was styling: rejected, buzzed, buzzed, dyed, pulled and wardrobe challenged.

    Because we were brilliant, we went to McDonald’s instead of Georgetown where I would have fit in at Commander Salamander. When we went to McDonald’s the next hour (they were open late) I happened to see some male classmates and they didn’t recognize me at first but did our mutual friend. One friend did eventually recognize me and I think that was when the phrase, “Did you stick your head in a blender?” was coined.

    I grew it out after a few more trims because I came to enjoy the cut; it allowed me to be a little more rebellious and frantic while my look helped it all make sense.

    There. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

  39. Karen McFarland

     /  September 26, 2012

    August, why is it that no one I know is happy with their hair? What’s up with that? My daughter-in-law walked into our condo last week after not seeing her for two months and she had long hair. Did she pull her hair out like Barbie? Every time we see her, her hair is different. And all she did is fuss with her hair all weekend. It drove me nuts. But, I didn’t say anything. 🙂 Oh, how much fun it is to be a mother-in-law. LOL! Why, shut my mouth! And I did! Now the only thing that I will admit was a terrible mistake with my hair is perms. Ah yes, the eighties. Other than that, I have worn my hair in a bob forever. Sometimes it’s short. Sometimes it’s long/shoulder length. But the style works for me. I have fine hair, so living near the ocean makes my hair frizzy. Thus my love affair with defrissants. They save my day! And my hair stylist who uses organic hair color. You know how much I love that! 🙂

  40. Normally I would think I wouldn’t be interested in a blog post about hair (I ain’t that kinda gal), but you always make it about so much more. Thanks!

    I’ve had hair of all lengths over the years, from waist-length to pixie. There is one essential element to any style: It must not require any maintenance. And I mean NONE. I wash, condition, towel dry, shake or comb. That’s it. No blow dryers, no curlers, nothing. I have never colored it, and don’t intend to. If I follow in my mother’s footsteps, I’ll be about half gray in another 10 years and that’s fine with me. Reading about what models must go through with their hair made me appreciate what I DON’T have to do to mine!

  41. What a great topic. Hair! My mother lost basically all of hers. It started going when she was in college and she wore a wig for the rest of her life. She didn’t like it, but it never stopped her for a minute. My Dad told me he never really noticed how thin her hair was, until someone pointed it out, but by then he was hooked. I asked her once how she handled it, especially during that vulnerable time when we look for mates and jobs, and appearance is an especially big deal. “I figured,” she said, “If people are going to love me, they’ll love me, hair or not.” She was right. When she died suddenly in 2000, the memorial service was packed to the gills, and with many, many people I’d never met before, who kept coming up to me, crying, telling me about things she’d accomplished, people she’d helped.

    While I grew up, the possibility of baldness hung over my head like Damocles sword. Three of my four brothers are bald as tonsured monks. You learn early – this is not a topic you talk about, baldness in women. People turn red and offer empty reassurances, then change the subject. I remember once when my children were very small, they tumbled into my parents’ bedroom when my mother was putting on her wig. Later I caught them making self-conscious jokes about Grandma is bald! in a way that was clear they didn’t know quite what to make of it. Talk about a teachable moment. I’m immensely grateful to live in a time when a few women walk proudly with bald heads and and beautiful earrings and no one seems to mind. I’m also grateful to my Mom for her tethered-to-the-ground good sense. As you say August, it’s just hair. Thanks for sharing your spring/fall, June and August, thoughts.

  42. I used to adore drying my hair after having washed it. I found it relaxing. One time when I was in hospital and I had, for days, refused a particular test through a phobia of it (I won’t say what test, would be tmi, for sure!) the doctor came over to me while a nurse was drying my hair and said he was sorry but I absolutely had to have the test. “No problem” I said. He was confused and asked about my change of heart. I said that if he’d not told me when I was having my hair dryed I’d have said the same as before!

    Of course, later on… I realised what I’d agreed to! 😉

  43. So happy to read your post. You discussed all that we are generally looking for. Keep sharing such a wonderful tips.

  44. Having shaved my head once and even bleached my black hair an ugly burnt orange for the sake of my soccer teams (when coaches lose bets, it’s never pretty), I have a newfound appreciation for even my plain male tresses. Just the way they are.

    Of course, this doesn’t prevent me from pulling my trusty Rockies cap over them in a moment’s notice. I might cover my hair, but I do appreciate it’s there – at 40, a lot of men can’t say that!

  45. Fun blog August! I used extensions for about a year after much of my hair fell out due to an iron deficiency. The extensions always looked beautiful for a couple of days. After that they would become a ratty mess. I was constantly finding myself at my friend’s house (a hairdresser) getting them fixed. I’m so grateful they were available when I needed them, but now that I have a little more natural hair on my head, you would have to pay me to go back to using extensions.


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