All posts tagged: Hair

Not Going Gently Into the White (Blonde) Light

As I edge my way toward 50 — with curiosity, no fear and only a few regrets — vanity is on my mind. But I’m not fretting over wrinkles and the general softening of my flesh. I’m curating my look — as I always have, at every age. But what’s different now? I never think about my age in doing so. And, I won’t lie, I fucking love that beautiful irony. When I was much (much) younger and in leadership positions at a precociously young age, I felt compelled to dress for the respect I wanted to command from the businessmen (yes, mostly men) I did business with, which translated into bright-colored suit jackets with black skirts and pants, mostly, while keeping my youngish hairstyle. Once, I met a friend for dinner after a business meeting, and she greeted me with “God, take that thing off,” referring to my apple-green jacket with its teensy shoulder pads. But the bright armor and nude pumps did what they were supposed to — project that I was playing …

A head shave, cancer, chemo

Ovarian Rhapsody: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Upon hearing you have cancer, the thing people will ask you about, more than anything else, more than your diagnosis, more than the treatment, more than surgery: “But will you lose your hair??” And that’s only the executive summary of queries. Will you wear a wig? Are you doing a synthetic or human hair wig? Will you shave it off? Will it fall out? Won’t it be easier not to shampoo your hair? Does it fall out down there? (Yes, if you must know. Easiest Brazilian ever.) One friend suggested a cold cap? “You can keep your hair that way!” she said. Cold cap? Huh? Like many things related to cancer which I’d never thought about before in my life, this sent me down the Google rabbit hole on a process which is about $600 a month where, during chemotherapy, you wear an iced cap on your head which has to be changed at least every hour and kept in the infusion center’s refrigerator. It’s painful, it’s expensive. No thanks. I already had enough of that. …

Self-Acceptance as a Woman Meant Starting with My Hair

I have been running away from my body for my entire life. For as long as I can remember, I was never very happy with the body I was born into. Even before my gender issues began to emerge, I was always the chubby kid — husky-sized suits and all. Yes, I was teased. Relentlessly so, for quite a while when I was young. The mocking jokes from my so-called friends cut like a knife. But I persevered, or so I thought. Unless you have walked a mile in my heels, it’s very difficult to explain what it is like to wake up every morning of your life knowing — really knowing — on a very visceral level that something’s just not aligned correctly. Something’s a little off – askance, as it were. It became quite apparent to me as I reached my teenage years that this was most definitely NOT the body that I signed up for. The realization scared me to death. It was like out of nowhere, I awoke to find myself …

What’s That On Your Head? A Wig

“By the way, I have a new wig. I don’t think the reddish one will survive another concert.” Shelly called me to plan our get-ups for the next B-52s concert next Sunday night. “It’s a bob but I can tease it, cause it’s gotta be big. It can not be half-assed. It has to be awesome.” Since 1977 you could probably catch The B-52s playing somewhere in America. In the last decade or so they’ve been touring almost every year. I know, because Shelly and I go, almost every year. But when did we first put on the wigs? It’s difficult to say. In the beginning, we would fashion our real hair into sky-high beehives. She was Cindy. I was Kate. Always. I’d tease the hell out of my thick brown hair with a rat-tail comb, Shelly found either a cardboard toilet paper roll or a Styrofoam cone that she’d twirl her blonde hair around and up. One of my dearest friends, Shelly and I both of hail from the Philly area and share an …

What I Learned When I Lost My Hair

For most of my freshman year of college, I wore a wig. My mom’s stylist had cut and dyed it to blend seamlessly with my own thinning hair. It looked natural, but I was always afraid that someone might find out. Maybe someone would knock it off-center at a party. Maybe a professor would notice the fake hairline behind my real hairline. After a few days of clipping the wig on behind closet doors or inside bathroom stalls, I realized I had to come clean to my roommate. The possibility that she’d spill my secret filled me with terror. People would find out that I was ugly, resent my fakeness, and leave me alone in a new and daunting place. All I could do was communicate how immensely important it was that she not tell a soul. I wanted to scare her into silence and she kept quiet like I’d asked. I didn’t consider the possibility that another person valued me enough to respect my wishes. I didn’t feel valuable, only afraid; anxiety is super …

The History of My Hair: A Timeline

Hair has always been the proving ground to see where you fit in, while trying your best to look good. As I cycled through my past hair trends, I realized I was casting out and reeling back the parts that worked — and the ones that didn’t. I went through a few bad cuts, got blonder and curlier than I meant to be, but eventually figured it out. Whatever quality it was that made me want to change my haircut every year is as much a part of me as anything else.

The Day I Cut My Hair, I Lost More Than Locks

I was 14 or so before I grew the tops of my ears back which had been practically singed off by the dreaded hot comb. I’ve survived the beauty parlors — aka Mrs. Bank’s and Mrs. Tabb’s kitchens — where the familiar scent of bergamot was as pervasive as the aroma of chicken, fish, collards, homemade biscuits, pound cake… and pressed hair. One day after school, when I was in the 9th grade, I decided I was too grown for ponytails and bangs. I knew that if I asked to wear an afro the answer would be “No!” After all, this was in Williamsburg, VA in the early ‘70s and we were not yet quite so hip. So without asking I did the unthinkable and broke out the shears, cutting off shoulder-blade length locks of hair in two too easy strokes. Fortunately my father was the first one home from work that day, finding me standing in the bathroom holding two long plaits and looking helplessly like “Now what?” Realizing the noise and fury that would …

In the ’80s, I Was Lori With the Big Hair

I was born bald as a cue ball and stayed that way until I was almost two years old. Both my mother and grandmother tell me stories of how they scotch taped bows onto my bald head for parties and pictures. But once I turned two, something happened. My hair took off, with a vengeance. A thick, wavy and wiry vengeance. I have vivid memories of tearing up at the kitchen table as my mom struggled to brush my insane mane into giant pigtails or what was perhaps the world’s biggest ponytail. As a young girl I was so envious of my blonde-haired, fair-skinned girlfriends. I admired their ability to wear braids, tortoise shell headbands and effortlessly run a comb through their soft, shiny hair. I kept a giant lavender comb in the back pocket of my Jordache jeans, but it was more for decorative purposes; there was no way I could ever run a comb through my unruly hair without major incident. But then came the 1980s, — the decade my hair was born …

Yes, You Should Go Short. Here’s Why.

“Oh, I wish I could do that.” Hundreds of times I’ve heard this lament directed my way. Why? Is it because I can solve a Rubik’s Cube while holding it behind my back? Speak in numerous near-extinct tribal languages and dialects? Bend my thumb all the way back so it touches my wrist? Nope. It’s because I have short hair. Setting aside the obvious (oh, but you can do that — just let me get these massive shears out of my handbag…), I’m constantly amazed not so much by the fact that women envy short hair, but that they actually believe it’s somehow a hair style that’s totally beyond their reach. “You should cut it,” I urge them. “It would look great on you!” “Oh no, I could never pull it off,” they always reply. Pull it off? For the record, let’s create a short, but entirely comprehensive, list of reasons one could not “pull off” short hair: 1. You are Samson. 2. You have a wildly offensive neck tattoo. 3. You suffer from a goiter the size …

Losing It: On the Life, Death and Rebirth of My Hair

If the gods were whirling around looking for a luxurious head of hair worthy of chronicling, if they were going to point a finger down from Mount Olympus and boom out, “You! Tell the other mortals the story of your mane and sing of it,” it’s safe to say I would not be a contender. My hair is ordinary, even a little pitiful. But for all its lack of glamour, my hair has lived and struggled, and lo, gods, whether you like it or not, I will sing of it. Ages 0-7: My hair and I are at peace. Unless a hairbrush is coming close enough to attack, I never think about it. Age 7: Allison Pykett gets a Dorothy Hamill haircut. Dorothy Hamill is an Olympic figure skater whose hair is cut in a famous short wedge, and Allison is my best friend. Allison’s hair is thick, blond and luxurious, just the right texture to create that wedge. When Allison walks into Mrs. Langbein’s class with her new do, Mrs. Langbein leads the class …

Confessions of a Reluctant Weaver

While I am sure that Samson had many other things going for him besides his strength and luscious locks, he kind of lost it without his hair. I wrote the following post a few years ago when I lost some of my hair and I kind of lost it as well. After a long tearful adventure that involved bad hair days, a weave (never again!), and a cut, it’s grown back healthy and strong, but that is now, and this was then. What follows is a cautionary tale: I had contemplated a hair weave for a hot second back in the ’80s when so many of us lusted after Lisa Bonet’s flowing curls. But I quickly realized that I couldn’t be bothered and never gave it another thought. That is, until recently. About a year ago, when the grays started to taunt me a little too much, I thought, instead of just covering them up, why not get a little color too? I have always played it so safe with my hair, so it was …

Finding My Perfect Pink

When I was 11 years old, I was standing in line at the mall when two girls in their 20s began oohing and aahing over my hair. “Those streaks are so foxy!” said one, while the other lifted my hair and began holding it up to the light. “Where did you get it done?” she asked. Well, I’d gotten it done at the pool in my apartment complex by the New Mexico sunshine. I remember feeling oddly powerful in that moment: I was just a kid, and these women coveted my hair — my normally very brown, very boring, not-quite-curly-but-not-quite-straight hair. The next week I bought a bottle of Sun-In with my babysitting money, and thus began my 35-year love affair with dyeing my hair. I lived in Michigan during high school, was poor as dirt and had all the wrong clothes. I combated this by becoming one of the lone punk rockers at my high school; I bought men’s t-shirts, hand painted them and then cut them up so badly I had to safety …

My White Stripe — Going Halfway Gray

“Is that natural?” When something in your appearance is askew (to them), people have no qualms about stopping you in the street, waving a finger and asking you to decode your own being. Frankly, when it comes to my hair, I kinda dig it. “Well, you see,” I inform them, “the front part is natural, actually, but I dye the back part, but funny story there…” At which point I see their eyes glaze over and realize they’re sorry they asked. * I’ve always been a fan of my own hair — since Mom clipped a lock of it and put it in an envelope. I’ve been lucky to have hair that is fine but thick, straight and malleable, with a very slight, slip of a curve. When I look or feel crappy, my hair has the ability to be flamboyant and seductive, charming and witty. Swooping like a fancy cape around my face, my hair can easily disguise any bad day. But that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to futz with it. As a kid, …

Gray #2: Embracing My Roots

All the women in my office dye their hair. Nay, all the women in my profession (university development, aka fundraising) dye their hair. We aren’t investment bankers, but we are not terribly different culturally. Being a professional means fading into the background enough to highlight the seriousness of our purpose. Standing out with grey hair, though biologically normal for my age (46) is not culturally normal anymore. Everyone dyes. Sometimes it seems like we’re not allowed to go gray anymore. I’m seized with the fear that I’m the equivalent of John Travolta at the Oscars — befuddled by names, clinging to my fading youth, dyeing my hair too dark and becoming the butt of office jokes. I’d rather go willingly than try to pretend. I’m not sure what “aging gracefully” means exactly but it seems like the opposite of John Travolta. For years, I’ve been beating around the bush with my hair stylist, Vanessa, tentatively questioning her about what it would be like to go gray. “As I get older, will I look silly if I keep dyeing my hair this dark brown …

Gray #3: Going Gray, All The Way

At the age of 47, after coloring my hair consistently for more than a dozen years (and by then needing to do it every three weeks), I decided to stop. This was in some ways precipitated by a move to live full-time at my weekend home in the Catskills. I still make weekly trips into the city to meet with clients and see friends, but my life was evolving and the amount of time I had to sit in a colorists’ chair was limited. Here are a few things that made it hard to go through with this change: 1. Not knowing a single person my age with gray hair. 2. Fearing that it would have an impact on my work. (I’m a creative consultant to brands, many of them in the world of fashion and beauty.) 3. Extreme vanity. And here are a couple of things that made it easier: 1. My incredibly supportive husband, who insists I am always beautiful to him. 2. My colorist, who urged me to stick to the plan …

5 Really Wacky Hair Don’ts

I’ve made a lot of poor choices with my hair. Sun-In? Yep. Turned my hair orange. But didn’t it turn everyone’s hair orange? Perms? Check. Even though I had (and have) naturally curly hair. Banana clips? Of course. I wore one my entire junior year of high school. Mainly, the yellow one, which of course, was the coolest. But that was back in the day, during the crazy, ill-fated hair era of the 1980s. Think we’ve moved past that nonsense? Think again. Behold some current hair trends and contraptions that are just as ridiculous as banana clips and self-inflicted sun-streaks.   1. The Dryer Bonnet Touted as a remedy for tired arms, The Dryer Bonnet is nothing shy of galactic. And by that I mean spacey and weird looking, a la Star Trek. Manufacturers claim the device easily attaches to your current hair dryer, prevents overheating of the scalp, and replicates your “salon hood experience.” ($20, Whitesandsproducts.com) If you act now, the bonnet comes with a cigarette, a glass of whisky, cat-eye glasses and a wood-paneled station …

Four Well-Coiffed Films and One Smooth Shaven Sci-Fi Flick

In which we explore the filmic concerns of a given theme, and find new and novel ways of putting together yet another Internet-based list of movies. The wrinkle here, is our fifth pick will actually serve to prove as the counter argument, the best representation of the direct opposite of our theme. 1. Amélie (2001) Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet Gist: A sweetly innocent young woman (Audrey Tautou) moves to central Paris and takes on a life of selflessness and generosity in order to find love. The Hair: A ’20s-style bob, with fringe bangs. The Entanglement (Conflict): All her giving ends up taking away from Amélie’s ability to give to herself. Only when she learns to actively want things for herself does the possibility of love become reality. The Conditioner (Legacy): A timeless ‘do that still evokes the roaring, carefree spirit of the era that made it famous, it suggests a woman who enjoys a good time on the dance floor and doesn’t mind knocking a hair or two out of place in the process of throwing down …

Margit’s Note: A Hairy Week

My nine-year-old nephew asked me, “You have 52 weeks in a year, why would you waste one on hair?” Oh honey. For better or worse, we are obsessed with our hair. It speaks before we do. It’s our way to hide a little, or scream from across the parking lot. And as we age it shifts into something new.  We adjust or we let it be.  Most of us maintain it with obsessive regularity — those salon visits, hairbrushings, and conversations  foster connections to our friends, our mothers, ourselves. If you’re a fan of the follicle, this week’s edition is just for you — it’s one of our most jam-packed “themes” yet.  From pink to gray, curly to big, natural to chemically saturated — it’s a hairy week. GRAY: We have three takes on Gray: My White Stripe, Julie Parr’s Gray-in-the-Making, Laura Silverman’s All-The-Way Gray THE WEAVE: Suzanne Rust adds a weave — to mixed results. NATURAL:  Cherisse Gardner recalls the time she chopped it off — and what she lost in the process. PINK: Cecily Kellogg …

Women Who Inspire: Jamyla Bennu

                  NAME: Jamyla Bennu AGE: 38 OCCUPATION: Mixtress, creator and CEO of Oyin Handmade WHO SHE IS: Jamyla Bennu is like Wonder Woman, if Wonder Woman also ran a successful personal care business and was an incredible wife and mother in addition to being a superhero. She’s the kind of woman that the media insists doesn’t exist – the woman who truly has it all. Jamyla and her husband Pierre are the creators of Oyin Handmade, a beloved line of hair and body care products for men and women, primarily people blessed with naturally curly and highly-textured hair. Oyin is the Yoruba word for honey, and legions of natural-haired women have been sweet on their products for the past decade. Now Target has gotten hip to the honey and Oyin products will be found on store shelves at everyone’s favorite retail store, nationwide. In addition to running Oyin, Jamyla is a mother of two adorable boys. Ebony Magazine recently named the Bennu’s one of the Coolest Black …