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Two broken brushes and an empty spray bottle of water later, I am left with a less than curly, more than straight, brown mane. I turn to my mom’s drawer of worn-away labels of mostly expired, nearly empty bottles of ancient hair products. I conclude that a concoction of “Smoothing Serum,” “3 Minute Miracle Straight,” and a hodgepodge of other nameless formulas will do the trick. I pour the array of styling formulas into an empty bottle and immediately become nauseous from the fake watermelon and flower scent cascading from the bottle. But beauty is pain, and I’ve been told straight hair is beauty. I dump copious amounts of the cottage cheese textured mixture into the palm of my hand and begin sliding the mixture from root to end as instructed by one of the few, still readable labels. Unlike the pin straight locks that I had been promised, I still had a frizzy but now greasy mess. Like trying to remove the wrinkles from a shirt using friction from one’s hand, trying to remove curls from a mess of hair is nearly impossible. But the “hair hate” of a seven year old girl with curly hair is inconsolable.
This struggle continued for five years until I discovered something that would not only change my hair’s texture, but my views of myself: the hair straightener. I sit on the cold tile floor eagerly awaiting my new flowing locks. It takes two hours and two twelve year old girls to tame an unruly mop of spiraled tendrils, but eventually I am told to close my eyes and stand up. I shoot up and shake my head as if in a shampoo commercial, expecting this strange movement to transform me into the beauty I always wanted to be. To no avail. I look in the mirror and see the same rosy cheeked, pre-pubescent girl with braces staring back. Unlike every other time, though, my hair is flat, dull, and boring. However, I run a brush through my hair, a luxury only afforded to those born with straight hair, and assume that I truly did appear transformed.
The following morning, I roll out of bed at the usual 7:50, run my fingers through my hair, and apply a generous coat of lip gloss, ready for a day of stares and compliments. As I board a bus of eager eyes, I get a few looks but nothing to the extent that I had been hoping. I strut into my first period class and look for my friends as I had every day for seven months. Just before the bell, my teacher, Mrs. Weatherill, comes over, scrunches her face, and informs me that I “have come to the wrong class” and that she would be “happy to help me find where I should be going.” I turn to her in shock as my friends break down in uncontrollable laughter. Realizing her mistake, Mrs. Weatherill apologizes, walks away, and tells the class to take a seat. Mortified, I throw my hair into a bun, hoping that no one would remember my “transformation” from the Anna I was to the Anna I wanted to be.
As I have grown up, my hair has grown out. My hair still affects how I see myself, but now, it no longer drips hair hate, but instead, hair curling products. The crazier my hair becomes, the more I feel comfortable in my own skin. It holds the insecurities that I had but also the confidence that I have found. My curls are no longer the feature that makes me stick out, but rather stand out. I find that hiding from the rain and answering the ever constant “how do you get your hair to do that?” are small prices to pay for the ability to be who I am.
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