Well. I did it! I successfully fasted my flat iron for Lent. In case you missed it, my reasoning behind this fast was to attempt to fall in love with the wavy hair God gave me and finally be rid of the compulsion to flatten it out with a burning hot iron before being seen in public.
So. What did I learn?
1. Curly hair garners rave reviews from pretty much everyone. Straight hair doesn’t.
No one has ever complimented my hair when it has been straightened. But when I wore it curly throughout Lent, even complete strangers raved about my hair. This completely baffled me! My hair is naturally so wild and crazy, I assumed people would think I looked a hot mess 24/7. Rather than people saying, “Wow, do you not own a hairbrush or do you just refuse to use one?” people would say things like, “Wow, your hair is so pretty! The curls are incredible!” I even polled my friends about it. 100% of people I surveyed preferred my naturally curly hair over my straightened hair.
2. Flat-ironing my hair is NOT easier than wearing it curly.
Even though I started straightening my hair because I absolutely hated the way it was naturally, I usually lied when people would ask me why I spent the time to do it. “It’s just easier,” I’d shrug off. This wasn’t a total lie, though. I honestly thought it was easier to flat-iron my hair than it is to wear it curly. Since my hair tends to dry out easily, I only wash it about every three days. So, every three days I go through the following ritual: I wash my hair, blow dry it, and then straighten it. That whole process takes me about an hour. Then, each morning in the following three-day cycle, I need to run my straightener over the parts I slept on funny before I head out the door. The re-straightening process takes about 10 minutes. I thought that wasn’t so bad in the scheme of a woman getting ready in the morning. An hour one day, then ten minutes for three subsequent days. An hour and a half. However, this ordeal is so much more complicated than wearing my hair curly. (Shocking, I know.) Throughout Lent, my ritual looked like this: I would wash my hair the first day, then work some product through it, scrunch it for about a minute, and let it air dry. That would last about 20 minutes. The following three days I would just re-wet my hair and re-scrunch it. Total run time for that: about 4 minutes and thirty seconds. I saved so much time! How did I not see this before?
2a. Sleep is way more fun than doing my hair.
I guess this goes without saying. If I wear my hair curly, I don’t need to get out of bed until about 30 minutes before I need to be at work. It’s incredible.
3. Straight hair shrinks heads.
After straightening my hair on Easter my head looked incredibly strange to me. After 40 days of curls I wasn’t used to seeing my hair down so flat and, in my opinion, it made me look like I had a shrunken head. Who knew that my Chi doubled as a witch doctor? (My husband disagrees with this idea but I’m pretty sure that’s just because he doesn’t want to admit that he’s slept with a woman with a shrunken head. I wouldn’t want to either.)
4. Curly hair is perpetually shoulder length.
This was super frustrating for me. When I was 18, I had a really bad short hair cut that has traumatized me. So now, I must have long hair. MUST. And, thanks to my bad haircut, I now suffer from hair length dysmorphia (self-diagnosed) which makes me feel like my hair is only as long as its shortest layer. At the time of writing, my shortest layer falls right at my chin. That means that right now, in my mind, all of my hair only comes down to about my chin. EEEK. (Anyone know of any hair length dysmorphia support groups?) So, I straighten my hair to remember that my hair is actually pretty long. When straight, my hair falls to the middle of my back. But when it’s curly, like it was all throughout Lent, it’s shoulder-length. (Or, in my distorted mind, a buzz cut. Ugh. Whatever.)
5. Curly hair disguises grease really well.
Remember how I said that I wash my hair every three days? Well. I only need to do that when my hair is straight because on the third day I look like a grease ball. But when my hair is curly, you can’t even tell! I could have gone a whole week without washing my hair if I wanted to! (I didn’t, though, because I didn’t want to tempt the hair gods.)
So did I get there? Did I come out of these 40 days completely in love with my curly hair?
Not exactly. But! I’m not afraid or ashamed of my natural hair anymore.
I washed my hair last night and this morning I woke up and ran my straightener over it just to tame some of the crazy spots. I didn’t iron my entire head and I went out into civilization and wasn’t self-conscious about it. Because I didn’t flat iron all of my hair, I still maintained most of my hair’s body and volume (and, therefore, avoided the shrunken head phenomenon.) And, even if I wouldn’t have run a flat iron over my hair this morning, everything would have been okay. I wouldn’t have been freaking out all day, feeling ugly and unkempt, because I don’t hate my natural hair anymore. I don’t love it, but I certainly don’t hate it. That counts for something, right?
What natural part of your body are you slowly but surely learning to love?