When you think about it, there’s something uniquely banal about complaining about our hair, and yet we (with hair) can all do it. Even if we don’t complain incessantly about our hair, we still have stories to tell when the subject comes up. This week at work, a few of us stood around one morning sharing our hair-related woes. We probably could have talked about it longer than we did. We took turns trading hair horror stories, and we weren’t running out of material.
It’s going to seem like I’m complaining about my hair right now. But I’m not.
Here’s a selfie I took in the car the other morning:
That big chunk of hair hanging down the center sums up the general state of my hair. It’s in my face, or it’s stuck to my lips or eyelashes, or it’s windblown, even when there’s no wind. My hair strands are thin. I don’t just have fly-aways… every hair on my head is a fly-away. The strands fall out easily and copiously. Callaghan is always having to detangle my hair from the vacuum cleaner roller brush thing, and my fallen hairs collect in the corners of the bathroom faster than I can think to gather them up. After I wash my hair, I have to remove a solid mass of clumped hair from the shower drain hair-catcher.
If I don’t pull my hair back before I eat, a loose strand might find its way into my mouth, where it’ll tangle up with food I’m trying to chew, leaving me to attempt an inconspicuous fishing expedition. When I catch the hair, I have to pull it out of my throat, because it’s partially swallowed.
It takes skill to do that without hacking and gagging like a cat with a fur ball on its way out, because that’s what the strand is at that point. It’s a fur ball, and it’s gross. I’ve written about this before; truth be told, it’s probably only happened a few times in my life, but each time was the equivalent of a thousand because of the mortification factor. (Of course, this kind of mishap usually happens in a restaurant, when I’m eating lunch with, say, people from work.) I’m a cat mom, but my own cats never even hack up fur balls!
I’m always pinching at my face in attempts to remove a loose hair that’s bothering me, or I’m reaching under my arm to grab at the bottom of the outside of my t-shirt sleeve to capture the loose hair that I know is hanging there, since I can feel it brushing against my skin. This is my plight… pawing at myself in pursuit of the loose strand of hair that can be felt, but not seen.
Weightless, fine strands of hair. It’s unmanageable no matter what I do.
If there’s one kind of envy I have, it’s hair envy. I’m always admiring the thick and glossy hair on other peoples’ heads. (I have long leg envy, too, but my hair envy surpasses it by far.) I’m fascinated by hairlines that are uniformly dense and beautifully shaped from ear to ear. My own hairline is uneven, a little high, and it’s always been thin on the sides, up by my temples.
Some people have lovely straight hair. Some people have gorgeous curly hair. Mine is wavy, but not in a nice way. The strands go in conflicting directions. It’s wayward and fly-away and runaway and every other kind of a way you can think of. I have cowlicks, too, and those little, fine baby hairs springing out of my hairline in the front.
When it’s humid, forget about it.
Despite numerous articles on the subject, there’s no “best hairstyle” for my hair or face, because my hair defies reason regardless of the cut. Any style I’d want to achieve would involve painstaking effort, and I’ve never been a person who enjoys “doing” her hair. I fail at having super short hair, because it has to be manipulated into looking the way it’s supposed to, and who has the time or the patience for that? (A lot of people do, it seems, but I’ve never been one of them.) Neither can I seem to get myself into the salon regularly to maintain the cut. Every time I attempt short hair, I end up growing it out again, and then I complain about how long it’s taking.
If I did have a “best hairstyle,” it would involve having bangs, I think… but with my fine hair, bangs just look scraggly on me.
There’s no perfect product for my hair, either, though I’ve found a few things that kind of alleviate the frustration. Most “weightless” hair oils and serums do end up weighing my hair down, and they don’t miraculously tame it. I’ve totally accepted that I’ll never have a lush, satiny mane of hair, but I’ll take smooth hair. Every once in a while, I’ll unearth my hair-straightener, which helps with the texture somewhat… but even that consumes more time than I care to spend. It’s been months since the last time I did it.
Having said all of this, I insist that I’m not complaining. My point is that I’m thankful for my hair. When I catch myself staring wistfully at other peoples’ hair, I think of how lucky I am to have any. Since the Gulf War, I’ve said many times that I could never have a bad hair day, and that is absolutely true. I’ve never had a day that was actually ruined by my hair.
Dwelling on my hair and wishing it was different or more like someone else’s always makes me feel guilty.
My hair is my biggest first-world non-problem. It is what it is, and I’m lucky to have it.
I’m lucky to have access to a shower, and shampoo and conditioner and other products.
I’m lucky to have the means to get my hair cut, and I’m lucky to have found a fabulous hair stylist who’s an awesome person, too.
I’m lucky to be in good health now, because when I had active autoimmune diseases back in the 2000’s, my hair told the tale of those struggles. (That was when I shedded the most.)
I’m lucky to be in my late 40’s and still have brownish-black roots that grow in darker than the deep golden brown color I put in.
My hair is a good reminder to be grateful for what I have, and that makes it one of my favorite features.