I’m a naturally curly girl. There, I’ve said it! This may not sound major—especially on a site dedicated to curly hair—but it’s a fact I’ve denied for almost six years now. Like many curly girls, I grew up with hair I couldn’t handle, hair that had a mind of its own. It never looked like the shiny, silky hair I saw on TV or in magazines and how it looked was a barometer for my mood. So when I heard about Japanese straightening, I was intrigued. As a beauty writer, I’d done several articles on it before the light bulb went off that I should try it. And so I did. It wasn’t like me to do something so drastic but I didn’t care. I remember sitting in the stylist’s chair on that brisk October day as he ran his fingers through my hair. “Are you sure you’re ready for poker-straight strands?” he asked. “It may be flat at first.” Truth be told, I didn’t care if I looked like Marcia Brady. I couldn’t stand another day of frizz and fuzz, and as the mother of a one-year-old, I had no time or energy to spend on my curls. My straightening results were fabulous! Finally, I had shiny, soft strands that blew in the wind. Sure, they were flat, but they were straight. They didn’t frizz after the sweatiest workout or on the most humid day. I no longer cared if it rained. I thought I discovered Nirvana! I loved my straight hair so much that I didn’t care that my husband said he liked it better curly. (That’s love—of my hair!”> Every day was a good hair day and I got lots of compliments. I never thought I’d go back to curly.

Cut to six years later. It’s time to get my hair straightened again, but I just can’t do it and there are a few reasons why. First, I am tired of the flat, straight look. Second, I hate the feeling that the moment I step out of the salon after a straightening, the curly hair time clock is ticking. I constantly feel the back of my hair and get depressed when I feel little bumps of curls sprouting underneath my silky strands. Third, I’ve noticed some gray hairs and know that coloring and straightening is too much for my poor locks to handle. Lastly, I’m working with curl guru Lorraine Massey (co-owner of the Devachan Salons”> on her second book, “Curly Girl 2”. As a result, I’ve interviewed almost a hundred women who grew up hating their curls like I did, but who have finally learned to treat them right and actually say they love their hair. Yes, love. Imagine that! Armed with so much more knowledge than I had six years ago, I now know how to make my curls look good. Too bad I don’t have them anymore!

That brings me to the whole point of this blog. I’m going to document this journey of going straight. I know it’s not going to be easy. After all, I will spend the next year—or more!—with two textures of hair on my head. It’s also quite emotional. For example, the other day, I was getting ready for a work event and couldn’t stand how my schizo hair looked. Like a drug addict going through withdrawal, I was scrolling frantically through my Blackberry for the number of the salon where I get it straightened. When I found it, I slipped into the corner of the room and whispered about making an appointment because my husband—who was excited when I announced that I was going back to curly—was in the other room. I’m happy to say that I pushed past the straight-hair craving, canceled the appointment and am still on this journey. I know there will twists and turns (pun intended”> along the way, but I am ready!

Michele Bender

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