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A stack of ponytail holders has been my hair’s best friend for about nine months now. But recently I decided to let my hair down—literally. Right now the status of my strands is this: in the back most of my hair is curly/wavy except for about three inches on the end. This would make my hair look nearly normal (using that term loosely) except for the front pieces, which are half curly and half straight. According to Lorraine Massey, this part of the hair is like the windshield on a car, taking most of the abuse from the environment and as a result is slower to grow.

Michele and Loraine

Michele and Loraine

All this has been par for the growing-out-my-hair course and hasn’t bothered me until recently when I had to have my photo taken for the updated version of "Curly Girl" (which, FYI, is coming out in January 2011). For the chapter on growing out your chemically straightened hair, they wanted a photo of my hair in its schizo state. Yikes! I barely let my family see my strands like this so I certainly didn’t feel comfortable displaying it for a photo shoot. All I kept thinking about was a comment a family member made when she saw my hair in its half-curly, half-straight state: “It looks Medieval.” Medieval? I don’t even know that that means but it can’t be good. I quickly shoved my hair in a ponytail and didn’t look at it myself for a good month. But the day of the photo shoot I was exposing it for over a dozen people. They were all telling me they liked my hair and or that it didn’t look “so bad,” but I knew they were just trying to be nice. When I told Lorraine I was going to a charity event later that day, she whisked me off to her chair spritzed the straight ends of my hair with gel, twisted them around her finger and clipped them. Then I sat under a hooded dryer. Fifteen minutes later, my hair looked all wavy. Gone were those dead-looking ends, and in their place were loose, bouncy curls. My hair looked good but as I got dressed for the event I debated whether I should display my new curls or shove my hair in a ponytail. After all, I was on the committee for this event and would know the majority of the people attending. Many of my close friends would be there—friends who’d known me as straight for the last few years. It was then that I realized that although I’ve committed to going curly, for some reason I can’t identify myself as curly. Going out in public with curly hair would be the final step in this commitment.

I’d already employed the dieter’s tactic of telling everyone I know that I was going curly so that if I fell off the wagon and went straight they’d set me, well, straight (no pun intended). In fact, the only time I got a blow out during this process (forgive me curly girls for I have sinned!), that’s exactly what happened. But going out with a full head of curls was scary. So I handled this the way you should anything you’re afraid of: I jumped right in and took my curly locks to the event. When the first few people complimented my hair, I didn’t really believe them. They’re just being polite, I thought. But the whole night the compliments kept pouring in. I don’t mean to sound conceited but I was getting raves not just from close friends (who would have told me in no uncertain terms if my hair didn’t look good) but from friends of friends who didn’t know that I was on this curly quest and even from complete strangers. With each bit of praise, I realized that my decision to take my curls out of the closet that night—and permanently—was the right one.

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