Every issue of the newspaper I have been taking on more and more writing. I find news articles the easiest to write, probably because I’m so used to writing them. For the past few months, large news articles have been scant, so I’ve been writing smaller briefs and then a larger opinions piece. Being risky with the newspaper is kind of tricky because it’s not like a paper that just goes to one teacher. The newspaper is distributed to everyone in the school. Since my motto of the year seems to be step out of your comfort zone, I went ahead and wrote a personal narrative for features. Surprisingly, I was rather pleased with what I wrote. Shows what some good motivation, english breakfast tea, and a notepad can produce at 1:30 am.
I got a haircut during February break. What a relief it was to rid myself of my unmanageable hair. I usually don’t feel attachment to my hair—for all its worth, it is only years-old dead protein that always grows back—but my recent haircut had me wincing. I had neither the prince-attracting gold locks of Rapunzel nor the power source mane of Samson, yet I felt a strange attachment to my hair for the first time—maybe because I had to cut off the 150 dollar perm from only six months earlier.
I had gotten a perm last summer in Korea because I was tired of my long, limp black hair. I mean, quoting Tracy Turnblad, “Hair can’t just hang there like a dead thing on your cheeks!”
Evidently a neophyte when it came to hair treatments, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Growing up, my mom cut my hair until middle school and even when I started going to the salon I got normal haircuts, nothing fancy. I didn’t really understand the big deal about hair especially the potential America’s Next Top Models who cried over their hair when Tyra decided to chop it all off.
We all know by now that people want what they cannot have. I wanted beautiful, glossy, flowing waves as many people with curly hair seem to be envious of my “Asian” hair. I had contemplated getting a perm for a long time and by the time I did it, so many of my family members and friends had done it too that the damaging effects didn’t even make it on to the cons side of my pros and cons list. Falling for the adventure, I went ahead with the perm rationalizing that I had to experience the excitement of having a perm at least once in my life.
Fast forward six months and I realized I was chasing the unattainable, I was living that shampoo commercial fantasy, and I wanted a permanent recreation of those waves that celebrities have for one night. The combination of my negligence in taking care of my hair, my naturally thin and fragile hair, and the potent chemicals that I had kept in my hair for two hours in July turned my slick, straight hair into a tangled mess.
Unwilling to fall into the cycle of renewing the perm several times per year, I went into the hair salon in February and said “cut it all off.” The hairstylist combed as far as she could and then cut off the parts too tangled to be brushed through. At first, cutting off all that hair was empowering (I felt like Mulan cutting off all her hair to fight the Huns), but then I realized how much of a waste it was. Not only did the money go to waste, the perm caused so much of my hair to fall out, and the ends to split up to my roots. Now I wonder if my hair will ever be restored to its original condition.
Once again, it’s just hair, but maintaining a perm or straightening treatments requires repeated visits to the salon and hours upon hours of inhaling noxious gases. A trend of the past in the United States, my perm surprised people (You got a perm? That’s so retro!), but chemical hair treatments like relaxing and straightening are still popular and just as damaging. Only last year, the FDA found the popular salon-grade hair straightening product Brazilian Blowout to have significant amounts of formaldehyde, a carcinogen. They are still allowed to market the product as long as they provide a notice on the packaging warning users of associated risks and safety precautions, so are we going to start getting our hair done in gas masks now?
Even though I got more positive feedback when I cut my hair short than when I got quasi-wavy hair, naturally, I still think curly hair is more fun. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for me, I don’t have the time or energy to return to the salon multiple times per year and buy sulfate-free shampoos and treat my hair with essence and oils. I would say I’m content with my natural hair, although my hair is really the least of my worries right now.