five things i learned from not straightening my hair for 40 days.

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.

Courtesy: Ashley Poole Photography | http://apoolephoto.com

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.

Courtesy: Ashley Poole Photography | http://apoolephoto.com

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.Β  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?

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18 thoughts on “five things i learned from not straightening my hair for 40 days.

  1. My freckles/extreme ginger skin! After hating my skin my whole life, I’ve finally accepted there is nothing I can do to change it so I might as well learn to love it. If only we lived in the Victorian era when pale skin was a virtue. But alas, we live in the era of tanning beds, tan-in-a-can, and spray tans (which I had a disastrous experience with for prom). But trying to fight my pale skin will only get me burnt, and if I’m lucky, skin cancer. So, I accept my Irish roots and repeat my Nana’s mantra, “A girl without freckles is like a night without stars.”

    P.S. I also do the sometimes curly/sometimes straight hair dance, so I found this whole blog very encouraging. Well done, Lindsay.

    • OH MY GOODNESS! i’m naturally pale too, though i try to lie to myself and burn myself to a crisp at each beach trip because “i tan really well, i swear.” ha. no. i’m pink and pale forever and that’s just life.

      but you know what? i’ve noticed that porcelain and pale is coming back as sexy lately! i mean, look at christina hendricks! she’s as white as snow and DAYUM! AND fake tanning is FINALLY getting a bad rap lately. more and more people are speaking out about the dangers of sun exposure and how unattractive overtanning is. thank you, snooki, for the ONE good thing you’ve contributed to society.

      i think your freckles are GORGEOUS. i’ve got some on my shoulders (they’ll undoubtedly become cancerous since they’re the product of years of trying to force my body to be “tan”) and i wish they were everywhere. i love them! work it, girl. freckles are so rad!

      • I guess you could say we’re bringin’ pale skin back. I mean, mostly Christina Hendricks is, but whatever. And you’re definitely right about the trend moving away from fake tanning. Turns out, cancer-not so hott. Thanks for your kind words about my freckles. I’ll keep rockin’ them (like I have a choice) and you do the same. And I agree with the consensus: your curly hair looks lovely. πŸ™‚

  2. Your curly hair looks for fun and playful in these pictures! And I love this post.

    I also would like to mention that you should feel blessed for even having hair that you don’t HAVE to dry. Mine is so incredibly thick that if I do not blow dry it, it gets tacky feeling and retains a weird smell. My need to blow dry isn’t rooted in vanity (though it does look better), it comes from a general desire to not feel like the under parts of my hair are growing moldy. Wish I could easily rock some four minute curls instead!

    • ha! grass is always greener! in the summer, i can have that damp-all-day thing go on, too, if i’m not careful. but the curls help create ventilation! ha! ❀

  3. I am learning (or trying to) learn to love my eyes. I have always hated how deep set they look. I feel like I should write them an appology sometimes

    • you totally should! it’s really therapeutic. thank your eyes for helping you see all the colors and wonders of the world. thank your eyes for helping you not run into things. thank your eyes for helping your smile out when you need to be just a tad more expressive. eyes are so helpful and fascinating! πŸ™‚

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  7. Old post I know…but this is everything I now think about my own super curly hair that I obsessively straightened for years. Now when I leave it curly I always get complimented, I save soo much time, and I’m not deathly afraid of rain or humidity!

  8. Wow, my hair is like curly. like better than a curling iron could do. but its also thick, so its like curls and thickness and its just past the bustline. ive been wearing it in a messy bun. and putting it in braids. i want it below my rib cage.

  9. I have naturally curly hair that I love to straighten. You should use the shielo smoothing conditioner, since it has amazon oil in it. It’s a perfect balance of clean and leaves my hair soft and moisturized. I’ve even worn it curly around the house without putting mouse in my hair to keep it tame.

  10. Pingback: are you there, blog? it’s me, lindsay. | fueled by diet coke

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