Big Hair

I have a thing for big hair.

Glam rockers from 80s hair bands, less glammy musicians from metal bands, hair product (shout out to root lifter), hair color – you name it, I probably dig it. It’s been a running joke for years that I have Texas hair and – whenever I travel there – it does, in fact, feel right at home. It is voluminous, layered, multi-colored and festive year-round.

A few months back, I went plant shopping at Lowe’s. One of the garden center dudes cruised over to me as I was inspecting a shrub called the Rainbow Surprise Mirror Plant. He started telling me that its leaves change color during the year, transitioning from pale green and gold during the spring and summer to hot pink and dark green in the fall and winter.

“Works for me – I’ll take it,” I said.

“Of course you will,” he replied.

I gave him a confused look. He explained further.

“Because of your hair,” he said.

“My hair?”

“Yeah. It’s all sorts of colors. It’s fun. It’s like a rainbow,” he said.

Interesting. Apparently my hair wasn’t as boring as I thought it was at the time – which is a good segue into to the fact that I suffer from what I like to call hair dysmorphia (no disrespect meant to anyone suffering from the more commonly-covered and legit topic of body dysmorphia). It seems that whenever I feel like my hair is at its flattest, it’s actually at its biggest. Whenever I feel like it’s time to funkify it with some new or crazy color, people will comment and say how colorful it already is.

Hair dysmorphia.

There’s been a picture stuck in my head for years – it’s seared into my memory like a badly charred piece of steak that fell through the grates on a grill and met a hellish demise; it’s not pretty. In the photo, my best friend and I are standing by my car during the summer of ’95; we were getting ready to head up to Solvang for a day trip before I left a few days later for college in Michigan. At the time, my hair felt normal; it was during my strawberry-blonde phase, probably with a little more emphasis on the strawberry. The color was from a box, but back then, I was down with box-color.

In reality, my hair was anything but normal. It was helmet-like and stiff, but fluffy from afar – I believe I went through 2 cans of Aqua Net that day to get it to be the size that it was, and to hold the fluffdom in place. But did I realize it at the time? Nooo. It took more than a decade to come to that realization, and I only came to it after I found said picture. I was shocked anyone let me leave the house, let alone parade my helmet in public.

What’s that saying? “The bigger the hair, the closer you are to God?” If so, then I was incredibly, amazingly holy back then.

A lot of time has passed since that photo was taken, and while I’ve graduated from box-color to the salon, my coif still tends to skew towards the large end of the spectrum.

The passing of time, as well as lingering photographic evidence, can be a good thing. Both allow you to grow, but not without reminding you of little lessons here and there. Mine? Helmets are for protection, not something hair should be fashioned into. I traded the curling iron for the round brush long ago and have ditched the hairspray for gentler, softer products, but lifeless, flat hair will never be for me – nor will my ‘do from 1995 return. And for that I am thankful.

You should be, too.

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