Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Futility, time-wasting, and fraying the edges of your self-esteem

What I wanted...

Indulge me while I do some math:

10 minutes/day messing with my hair = 1 hour per week (I'm taking Sundays off)

1 hour/week = 6 1/2 work days per year

6 1/2 work days per year X 40 years (adult working life) = over ONE WORKING YEAR...

And what am I trying to do during these boring, and futile, 10 minutes per day?  

I'm trying to have hair like Louise Brooks.  Or maybe even Juliette Greco.  But it's a waste of time, electricity, hair-care products, and ultimately, I'm spending a little bit of time every day telling myself that I'm JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH the way I am naturally.

Which is this:

real photograph of my hair.  It's soft, it's all natural, and it takes zero time per day to get it to do this...

There are dozens of ways in which we engage in futile battles. We could easily just surrender, and be happier, more productive, better citizens of the planet, and more financially secure.  Isn't the definition of insanity "to do the same thing over and over again, and always getting the same result"?

42 comments:

  1. I feel your pain! I'm also a wavy/curly haired person.

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  2. If it makes you feel any better I tried to have my hair be like yours, Janice. Just not happening. Now I have short and easy. Still a few hair products.
    Kate

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  3. I have straight as a board hair. I have spent my life trying to get it to do other things: curl, flip, feather, cascade, pin up...and only succeeded in burning my scalp, having bits and pieces flying around and headaches from heavy ponytails and "buns". Now I cut it short and boy-ish with a side part and fringe-y edges. I love it and won't wear it any other way.

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  4. I have very straight, Louise Brooks hair texture without her delicate bone structure. All my life I wanted curly hair and spent $$$ and precious time trying to achieve at best a mediocre result. I am more accepting of my straight, bodyless hair and -- funny enough -- a little of that self-loathing is gone.

    Hmmm...bigger lessons for other things in our life, yes?

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  5. My 21 year old daughter has beautiful curly hair like this, but she wears hers long, to her waist. She tortures it daily with blowdrying and flat ironing. And while it looks gorgeous when she's finished, but I think it looks even better when she let's it dry naturally. But she won't listen. Why is it so hard for us to believe that natural and just the way we were made is NEVER wrong. And she hates it when I say " do you know how many people would die for your naturally curly hair"? Trish

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  6. I havet hat hair too! (you can see it on my blog photo.) Congratulations on your wisdom... fighting is not only a futile waste of time (hello summer humidity) but more deeply, a negation of our selves. I had a gf visit recently; she took 45-50 minutes every morning to blow and flat iron her hair into submission- nuts. BTW have you tried Tigi Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier? (materfamilias intor'd me to it and it's remarkable... because you might as well *rock* those curls.

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  7. Your curls are lovely! I've also given up on spending lots of time on my fine, straight hair, and keep it cut in a short pixie. Life's too short to wrestle with trying to be different than we are.

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  8. Just be happy you have hair!

    Although the loss of big patches of my hair nine years ago (none of which has grown back) led me to the wonderful world of wigs. (After I tried creams, pills, injections, etc.)

    Easy care - easy change of stye - easy change of color.

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  9. In all my time in Paris, I saw few extremely well dressed women, but many beautiful women, poised, confident & truly comfortable in their own skin. Maybe they spent hours torturing their hair into submission, but I doubt it. My guess is that they burnished their gifts to a high luster & got on with enjoying life.
    It seems to me that a head full of gorgeous curls like yours are a priceless accessory...even a signature look. would you consider flaunting them? If they were mine, I would.

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  10. Beautiful hair!!!! You do realize people would pay loads of money to have curls that gorgeous!!

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    1. Agreed - Janice, embrace your curls, they are fabulous!

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  11. When I was a teen and young woman in the 70's, the beauty magazine chatter was all about not fighting the hair you were born with, but making the most of it. These were the days of the proud 'fro, the proud "pre-raphaelite" curly mop, the proud straight-as-a-board look.

    These days I hardly ever read something seriously encouraging women to go with the hair they have.

    Of course there were trends, and maybe women tortured their hair as much back them as they do today, but I doubt it. I don't think we women have ever been as high-maintenance as a group as we are in the western cultures today.

    Somehow I internalized the work-with-what-you've-got idea. And that's what I do, my long hair wrapped in scrunchy bun overnight for gentle volume and wave the next day (works for my semi-wavy hair), occasionally using a few hot curlers when my hair really needs some help and I need to look my best. I rarely blow dry, and won't let anyone come near me with a flat iron. I also gave up all "products" except the occasional shot of hair spray. A can will last me much longer than a year.

    As I've gotten older, I have less patience with the time that required for hair maintenance. I haven't gotten sloppy. I have good cut, healthy shiny hair with spots of grey that I just don't mind, and an easy and attractive style, though it's not glamorous or trendy. I have a life to live, and no patience for spending it fiddling around in the bathroom and fretting over upkeep or the weather during the day.

    So nice to be not-young and not-fretful (or less-fretful!) anymore.

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    1. Oh, I so agree with you. I have had extremely low maintenance hair styles my entire life. Have never owned curlers, curling iron, flat iron, whatever. Have had the same blow dryer for about 20 years. It has seldom been used. I have straight hair that has been long, short and, of course, the in-between lengths. And I have always gotten lots of compliments on my hair. How? Find a great stylist.

      Mine knows that my hair must be wash and wear, reflective of current trends so I do not look dated, must work around a cowlic, and compliments my appearance and personality. Of course, that does not mean everyone loves my hair but I do, so I do not care.

      So embrace your curls or your straight, your cowlics, and any other quirks and Dave time for something more fun than fussing with hair.

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  12. Your curls and texture are stunning. When I look at the photo of Louise Brooks, what stands out is the silhouette or shape of her hair, as opposed to just how straight it is. I think the same general overall shape might be attainable with curly hair in a slightly longer (read: at least to the jaw line) version with an inverted cut. Very chic.

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  13. it seems we want what we haven't got. curly hair people want straight hair and vice versa. i had cancer several times then lost my hair. the hair grew back in a ivory/pearl color. my hair was mouse brown, this is what i got in return. can't figure out what colors to wear, was analyzed as a summer before this. will not use any chemicals as i have have had so many chemicals used to heal me. my hair is still straight, it is growing long again, i glory in the fact i get to wake up each day to this stranger looking at me in the mirror and so very grateful she is there with ivory/pearl color hair. i say love what you have and be kind to yourself.
    jan

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  14. Thank you sooo much for this post! I've spent the better part of 40 years trying to get and keep my thick wavy hair
    smooth and straight! Enough! I'm getting a cut to fit my natural hair -- no more wasted time! I agree with Jan above. I want straight hair, people with straight want curly....

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    1. I'm with you. I have spent a fortune straightening my hair and fighting its frizziness. I have straightened it for the last time. The chemicals are damaging and dangerous. I quit!

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  15. Your hair is beautiful! It's a fact of life that straight haired girls want curls and curly haired girls want it straight. We are all beautiful in our own individual way.

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  16. Your curls are gorgeous and bravo for you accepting your locks just as they are...
    there are many many women who would go to the ends of the earth to have hair like yours.

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  17. It took me until I was 48 to realize that I was fighting a fight against my curly hair that I would never win! So, for the last 14 years it has curled as it pleases...never the same from day to day. I confess that I do color my shoulder length hair....and I get compliments all the time....

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  18. Your hair is beautiful. Why don't you buy a wig so that you can easily play with a 'new look' whenever the need arises?
    Cindy F

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  19. Your curls look soft and beautiful. After a couple bad perms in the Eighties I decided not to fight nature and live with straight hair. The less processing, drying and chemicals, the better. Well, except for a little hair color to cover the gray for a few more years....

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  20. Your hair is gorgeous, leave it a lovely soft halo. I so longed for curly hair and endured perming my hair through my 20s and 30s. The only good thing is that I decided I couldn't perm and dye my hair at the same time or I would risk it all falling out. Once I stopped the perms I found I had lovely silvery grey hair and never had to contemplate Hamlet's question of 'to dye or not to dye'!

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  21. Please, please embrace your curls! I say this with some authority, as a curly/frizzy haired white woman. I always wanted that beautiful, glossy, straight hair you see in the shampoo commercials, but finally realized I would never get it. I now wear my hair in a chin length wavy/curly bob, although I do straighten my bangs, since I just can't abide curly bangs, at least not on me. I married a guy with stick-straight hair, and assumed our kids would end up with wavy, but not curly hair. One of them did, but the other daughter has extremely curly hair. Despite the peer pressure to straighten her hair, she's decided that her curly hair makes her special, and she has a beautiful head of long, thick, curls. I've told her that people will remember her because of her hair, and that she doesn't look like everybody else....which, at age 18, she finally has begun to realize is a good thing.

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  22. Wow!! to have the option of going au naturel and owning the completely wild & edgy rockin head of curls!! Fro it! kink it! be as edgy as you can! Only a natural curl like that can pull off being completely free. With that look even teh most staid classic pieces of clothing will look fresh and young and oh so hip. Long live argyles topped with full-life curls!!

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  23. Your hair is beautiful.

    I was born with natural corkscrew curls...I grew up during the era of 'Marcia Brady straight as pin and parted down the middle' hair. All of the popular girls had it; I wanted it. It never worked on my hair. I prayed and cried and tried to fight my curls throughout my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.

    Then in my mid-20's I embraced my wild curls. Loved them..it was so easy.

    Then I had kids. Each time one of my three sons was born my curls became a bit less curly, until I had hair that would no longer commit to either curls of being straight. Oh how I wish I had my curls.

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  24. You have really beautiful hair. I totally understand how you were feeling. I was in the same boat....trying anything to get my thick curly hair straight. Well, finally about a year ago, I embraced the curl and I love it. The kicker is that I get so many compliments. I wish I had done this years ago. Now, if I could just get over my chin (s)...ugh!!! Never satisfied :-)

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  25. Oh my....I have the same problem, but I have straight hair and I would kill for your hair...
    Thank you for this lovely and (as always) inspiring post!

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  26. i have contemplated getting the japanese straightening treatment for my thick, wavyish hair, but thankfully i'm too cheap to commit to the deed. we do live in a world where straight hair is 'valued' more, but i think letting your hair's natural texture do its thing is the best thing to do. all that $$ could well be spent elsewhere! :)

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  27. I too have very unique hair, which I get cut in a style that suits my hair type, face and daily maintenance. I am letting my hair turn naturally grey, as my facial features are also softening to match the grey. My goal is to keep a consistent hair style, which is independent of having 5 min or 60 min to get ready in the morning.

    Though to each his / her own.

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  28. Of course, those with curls want straight and those with straight covet curls.

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  29. To accept yourself the way you are is one of life's great lessons learned.
    And coming from someone with baby fine hair, your curls are beautiful.

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  30. I think your hair is gorgeous! Then again, it looks a lot like mine (but shorter), so that could just be my ego talking. Love your curls.

    It is funny to me that the two times this year I have had my hair straightened (both for a hair cut, my stylist does it after cutting the hair dry to find any weirdness) people have said to me "Oh, you didn't curl your hair today." Bwa? Yes, I stand in front of the mirror for an hour with a curling iron doing individual spiral curls, every day.

    I highly suggest Josie Maran's new argan oil "Bohemian Waves" spray. It is a bit more than I would normally pay for a hair product, but after trying a sample I just love it. It smells good, keeps curls defined all day, and is moisturizing instead of drying. Most "beachy waves" sprays are far too drying.

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  31. I completely "get this". I too, want the first picture but my reality is your reality. I got my hair cut the other day. I have been frustrated by it for months...as though the texture of it has changed--still curly but finer making finding the right curl control product tres difficile. I asked my stylist, "Do you think my hair feels like feathers?" Hoping of course she would say no and I would then realize I truly do have an over-active imagination. Mais non! Elle dit: "Yes, I think that would be a very good way to describe your hair." Fabulous. On top of all the frustrating years of working with curly hair, I now have chicken feather curly hair. Blast.

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  32. Shame on you, taming that gorgeous head of hair. Why is the grass always greener on the other side? If it's straight we want curly and vice versa. If it brown, we want blonde, the opposites are endless.

    Thankfully I gave up this madness years ago. I last colored my hair in March 2002, when I also threw away my comb and brush. Today my hair grays a little more each year and is wash and wear. I do keep it well cut to avoid that matronly look. As they say, it is and what it is.

    Your hair is beautiful.

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  33. Snap.
    Always wanted those sleek 70s cuts or long and straight and yet my own hair was always thick and very wavy. It curlier with each of my three pregnancies and now is very much like yours. I eventually didn't have time to fight it any more - had there been straightening irons in my teens, I would have been first in line! Now I find myself saying to my youngest daughter, who has the same hair, oh leave it to curl naturally, it's so pretty... LOL My other daughters have different hair/texture: one has long fair, smooth hair with some natural curl and it's gorgeous, and the other has dark, much finer, only slightly wavy hair that looks great in a bob... the irony!!
    At the age of 47 and losing quite a bit of hair over the last few years, I find a huge advantage of curls is that you can't tell. People still think I have thick hair, even though it's only half the bundle my youngest has (and I used to have). Win! Now I'm letting the grey grow out as I'm tired of putting chemicals on my hair. I think the coarse curl will carry it off just fine.
    But you're right, my friends with fine, straight hair (who look so "smart" and "tidy"!) have always envied me my curls!

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  34. Nothing against Louise Brooks really :-). But several billion Chinese women would kill to have your hair, and spend even more time and money at it than you do on LB. How about chaneling Angela Davis instead?? OK, maybe that's too extreme, how about Halle Berry, or Jennifer Tilly?

    The main thing I'd suggest on your road to self-acceptance is perhaps changing stylists. For some reason, owners of gorgeous curly air are often treated like lepers by the hairdressing establishment. Even though cutting curly hair is actually easier, just a bit different. Find a woman whose curly hair you like, and ask for a referral, even if you only run into her once at the supermarket. And chances are you'll have better luck in more 'ethnic' salons, the best actually would be to find a stylist with curly hair herself :-).

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  35. Im a hairdresser & my theory is that if you have to spend any more than 10 min a day on your hair its a bad hair cut!! Some times we go the extra mile to achieve a certain look, which I would say all of us are guilty of when it comes to fashion. How many times have we all walked the shopping malls to find that perfect dress, I can't see why we shuldnt on occasions put the same effort into the perfect hair to match that dress, but we shouldn't have to be a slave to it everyday!!
    Cheers

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  36. If you want straight hair, get it chemically straightened! We have the technology...

    Interestingly I've just had a perm in order to make my hair look like yours. I just put a bit of goop in it and I'm good to go. Takes about 5 min to do in the morning and it gives body to my very thin hair. (I don't know why some other posters seem to have problems with perms - I've had them off and on for years and it's been fine!)

    Cheers,
    Eleanorjane

    PS- I LOVE your blog - always such gorgeous clothes!

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  37. The definition of insanity, according to Einstein, was "doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result." But close enough! Your hair is beautiful curly. I having naturally completely straight hair and would love to have your curls. Isn't that always the way?

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  38. Yep, I did that same battle for 30+ and finally gave it up about two years ago when I found a lovely website called http://www.naturallycurly.com/. Me and my hair are both so much happier (and healthier!), and I confess I feel a new sense of zen, allowing my hair to be itself--which has spilled over into other aspects of my life in delightful and unexpected ways. So I agree with other posters: embrace your curls!

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  39. Your hair is beautiful!
    Hello from another Curly Girl. I recently cut mine short and as I've grown older I have come to accept it. I wanted hair like Rod Stewart's when I was a teen! LOL

    This is a great blog, by the way. I love, love, love the capsules! Looking forward to reading some more!

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