Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Straighter Hair and Greener Grass

When I was in grade school, it seemed like a lot of the Asian girls wore their hair in a straight pigtail on the tops of their heads (see picture in yesterday's post). Maybe it wasn't a lot, but it was definitely more than one. Maybe they didn't always wear their hair that way, but things stick in my mind and as the event fades into the past, I remember less of it... like the details.

Part of why I remember this is because I was envious of those girls' hair. I wore mine in a long braid down my back. I had cloth-wrapped bands twisted at both ends of the braid, and often an orange or red yarn ribbon tied at the end. Sometimes I wore the kind of hairties that had white plastic marbles attached to them. My hair was always in a braid - I remember that it seemed to naturally part into three sections every morning (probably because I slept with the braid).

I really wanted straight black hair. I could have worn pigtails sticking straight out to the sides or even on top. I could have worn one long ponytail in the back, or medium length, or short, and/or I could have had bangs. I had none of those things. I had blondy-brown thick curly hair that could only be worn in that long braid. When I was ten I got a radical change to my hairstyle - cut to neck-length and with bangs, and wore it that way for about three years, but if I'd had any sense of what it looked like I would have hated that too. When my hair was at its longest since I've become an adult, I didn't braid it but I always wore it in a ponytail. I had to wash it every morning to keep it from becoming too tangled to brush, and the thick part under the hairtie was always still damp when I went to bed.

I still want straight black hair. Sometimes people ask me if this is my natural curl (and I find myself thinking, "isn't it obviously natural?") so I respond in the affirmative, and they tell me how lucky I am to have curly hair. But I always think of how much easier it is to curl hair than it is to straighten it, so it has always felt to me as if the straighthaired have more style flexibility. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence and all that.

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