Five years ago I got fed up with my Rosanna-Rosanna-Dana-crazy-ass hair and decided to have it professionally straightened with a process that was all the rave - Japanese Hair Straightening, also called Thermal Reconditioning. Hey, I was scared, of course. If it went badly and my hair got fried, I just knew I couldn't pull off the Sinead O'Connor bald look.
Why did I do it? Because until you actually have curly/wavy/frizzy hair, you just don't get it. I have gotten outright FURIOUS when someone with perfectly straight hair tells me how beautiful my hair is because "it's so thick" and has "so much body." LISTEN, if I sat in a salon next to a girl with perfectly straight, limp hair and we both were given all of the tools and hair products to create an awesome up-do or any other look and two hours to do it in, I would win - hands down. There, I admit that much. I'll go one further, my hair would look better than 99.99% of women in existence. Okay, happy? BUT how many of us has 2 hours a day, the right tools, products and even the desire to dry, shape, pull, iron, curl, spray? Honestly, no one.
If I walk out of the shower after having shampooed and conditioned my hair and decided to let it dry naturally, it wouldn't just AUTOMATICALLY dry like Brooke Shield's beautiful locks. Heck, I'm sure her hair doesn't dry that way either. But people just can't get it through their thick skulls that it takes an ENORMOUS amount of work for it to look good and that if you "do nothing" to it, it'll look AWFUL. Conversely, if you do nothing to pin straight hair, it looks boring, flat, lifeless. Okay, so-fucking-what?! It sure as hell doesn't look CRAZED!
Don't you get it?! In my hair, some pieces dry like corkscrews, some pieces have tight waves (not curls), some pieces are loose waves, some pieces are pretty straight, some pieces have stubborn cow licks. Now put all of those textures together and add a layer of frizziness (an inherent condition of curly or wavy hair) and see what you get - A NEST, that's what you get!
So, I can't just comb my hair and go.
So we have two camps. Straight hair that's flat and lifeless if it's not "worked on" or curly/wavy hair that looks like the unruly mess of Gilda Radner's on Saturday Night Live if it's not "worked on." I say, crap, I'd rather have hair that looks flat and lifeless if I didn't bother with it over hair that looks like shit if I didn't bother with it. 'Cause let's face it, how many ladies out there has 2 hours/day to "work on it?"
The result of all this is that I spend more than 3/4 of the year with my hair pulled back into a tight wet bun out of the shower. Last month I had a meeting in the city with my agency and one of the account exec's said "hey, I didn't know your hair was long." This girl's seen me dozens of times but never with my hair down. Now what kind of an existence is that?!
So in 2003, I did it and whatever my best expectations were, the process surpassed them. My hair was smooth, silky, straight - beautiful, straight out of the shower. I could walk outside in 90% humidity with dry hair and not one single frizzy, not a one! Pure joy!
Today I went back - same guy, same salon but new location. They're Korean and barely speak English but who cares. $500, excluding tip. I left the salon and on my way home, driving on the NJ Turnpike I called my friend V. This is what I said:
V, no one told me how overwhelming and emotional I would feel when I saw two beautiful embryos up on the flat screen monitor being piped in from under the microscope. The feeling was magical. If it worked, I would have seen my baby at the cellular level. Pretty powerful stuff. I remember I had a lump in my throat when I saw those teeny tiny embryos. I wanted to cry. And when he dried my hair today and it was beautiful, pin straight, I had the same exact feeling.
Okay, don't get pissed that I just compared the potential precious life of my baby to hair straightening. But it needs to be said that it was an earth-moving moment for me. When you get used to living with your hair up 3/4 of the year because you just can't deal with the bullshit of trying to do something with it and then fight the rain/humidity and then you see it fresh from the sink, dripping wet and not curling up and doing its own dance, God it's a beautiful moment.
Like the cost of IVF, INSANELY expensive but the prize is OH SO WORTH IT!