Day 11 - Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky ( first thought when I saw this prompt?

My hair.

I don’t complain about my hair. It’s the one part of me that I really like. I don’t necessarily do much to make it good - I just landed some good genes.

From a pretty early age, my mom would express her envy over my thick locks. The only thing she ever “complained” about with my hair was that it wasn’t red. She almost believed that if she hoped hard enough it would actually happen. Alas, my hair stayed blonde, then turned a darker blonde as I got older. Any hint of red these days comes from a bottle.

My hair is thick and grows fast. So fast that as a very young girl, Mom got tired of trying to maintain my bangs and grew them out. Sometime around the time I turned eight, I remember starting a campaign to have my bangs cut. It only took me four years to convince her to let me. By that time, I’d developed a steady habit of cutting my hair off to a shoulder-length bob for the summer and growing it out through the school year. So, when I finally got those bangs I’d begged for, I got the bob done and my very first body wave.

Mom was so nervous. She had thin, fine hair that would take a perm easily. She had no idea how mine would respond. She was right to worry. Every time I tried to perm my hair, which really wasn’t as much as it sounds like, I ended up with a fried frizzy mop. God only knows why I kept trying. It was just before the end of my 8th grade year when I did the very last perm for a very long time (not long enough to tell the truth). This one thoroughly ruin the bottom half of my hair, which, after growing throughout the school year, was halfway down my back.

I had so much damaged hair that I needed to take drastic action. So, I got my shortest haircut yet. A chin-length bob this time. It was cute. I loved it so much, but I had a plan too. No more perms. Minimal cuts so the ends would look okay and no more bobs. I was going to grow my hair out until I was done with high school. I remember the day in 10th grade when one of the cutest, most popular guys told me my hair looked good. I made a mental note of what I’d done and tried to replicate it every day, until I got bored and decided to try a new experiment.

What else do you do when you have that much hair? Experiments were the BEST!

I wore foam curlers at night to get my hair really, really curly and it almost always lasted at least until lunch, provided I remembered to put gel or mousse in. My boldest experiment was my most successful until it became a spectacular failure and forever became known as Karen’s bad hair day - well, to my best friend and I. It took hours to do, but I braided small pieces all over my head, then rolled each individual piece/braid into a foam roller. I had the right idea. Every time I had a body wave done, my hair was easier to curl. By braiding it then rolling it, I was basically doing the same thing. And, oh the curls I had that day! Then I panicked. This was ultra-big-hair and I got really scared. So, I eyed the lineup of hair products on my dresser and chose the one I thought would “calm” the curl. Spray gel.

It was a disaster. Half my hair stayed ultra curly and the other half fell completely flat. And I was late to school with no choice but to walk the halls with hair that looked like it couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. My best friend told me several times in the years after that day, “Karen, your hair always looks good. Well, except for that one day.”

I never wavered from my plan to grow my hair out, unless you count the six inches I cut off in December prior to graduation. My hair was down to my waist at it’s longest. But I forgot to mention the second part of my plan. The part that scared the stylist I’d gone to for all those years I’d been growing it out. I wanted a drastic cut. Not a bob. No, I wanted the 1996 version of Heather Armstrong’s short do. It only took me 3 visits to my stylist to get her to go as short as I wanted it, which at the time included the use of clippers. People I’d known for years didn’t even recognize me.

Since that time, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with my hair, but I’ve never grown it out for long and I’m not sure I ever will again. Frankly, it takes too long and the in-between stages aren’t all that fun. I’ve gotten impatient in my old age. :)

Recently, I decided it was time for another haircut. I walked in to a new salon on a friend’s recommendation planning to get the exact same haircut I’d gotten six months ago. I told the stylist what I wanted with every question she asked and she asked a lot of questions - she was very conscientious. And the end result was something FAR shorter than I originally intended, but she did exactly what I said to do, so I have only myself to blame for the change.

I guess it’s a good thing I like the new do! I’m even thinking of going a tad bit shorter next time. What do you think?