My hair is fantastically ginger, which I love love love. I never really got teased for it, and aside from a few school-age passing ginger-ist comments, I’ve found that the wider world is generally appreciative of a good ginge tinge.
However, my hair is also fantastically curly. And not the loose, tumble around your shoulders curly. Not the sort of curls that actually curl, either. It’s more like a halo of frizz, under which lurks maybe a hint of a curl or two. Nothing would tame it. Nothing. And at any hint of ‘weather’ (if you’ve got curly hair you’ll know what I mean) the only real option was to jam a beanie hat on or just give up and hide inside until sunshine could be guaranteed for at least a week. No straighteners on earth would even come close to ironing the bird’s nest on my head. I even had it chemically straightened, which lasted until I got out of the salon.
So when ghd’s were invented, it entirely changed my life. I found that although it took me 3-4 hours to straighten, my mop of unruly ginger hair would be transformed into bum-length, shiny, STRAIGHT, happy hair. And I transformed as well. My straight hair changed my life. Although I still had to avoid any form of moisture and still carried an emergency hat in my bag.
And so it continued. For the past 9 years I’ve ironed every suggestion of a kink out of my hair. I’ve put so many ‘management highlights’ in it, I once got described as ‘blonde’ which I was highly indignant of. Then I went emo and dyed it black and took an entire year to get back to ginge. And after that, I bunged some more blonde back in it…my poor hairdo.
In the last few months, a lot has been changing, in the way I view the world and the way I view myself. Things are settling down and my image and hair have changed too. No longer the uber glossy management sleekness. No longer the out of work hobo look either. Just, well, me. Just me.
I wanted to start making peace with my curls, finally. I also missed the identity of being ginger. The next visit to the hairdresser, I decided to give the highlights a miss and asked them to match my hair back to my original ginger roots. Finally, for the first time in many years, my hair is back to it’s natural, normal, fiery red. It’s flippin’ ace.
And I feel like I’ve returned. And for the last few days, I’ve just gone curly. Wash, bung a handful of oil on it, and that’s it. And like a miracle, there are ACTUAL CURLS. I even went out in public a few times.
It’s strange, the link between the self and the image. How your feelings are so interlaced with how you look. We’ve all heard of the bad hair day and how this can pretty much ruin any plan. Mine just went on for the first 21 years of my life.
I hope I can make friends again with my crazy, Princess Merida-like barnet. It’s wild, it’s constantly threatening to just break out and expand in a frizz halo, it’s untameable and fun and bouncy and totally ginger.
And so am I.
Update: Since I wrote this article, I started using the Curly Girl method, went no-poo, and actually really love my curly hair now!