Monday, January 10, 2005

Tired of the "boring urban white girl" look

Me circa 2004 with the same hairstyle I've had for about 10 years, give or take a few inches.

I realize I’m venturing into Leah McLaren territory by writing about my hair, but at least I’m not getting paid big bucks (or any bucks for that matter) to do so.

Anyway, about my hair. I have dark brown hair that is naturally bizarre. I am convinced it got that way because of a mutated gene. The gene that is supposed to determine whether one’s hair is straight or curly or wavy gave me all three types instead. I have a head of hair that is straight underneath, curly in the back and wavy everywhere else.

And because I’m female, I automatically want the kind of hair that is the exact opposite of the hair I was born with. So I have been trying to shampoo, condition, brush, blow-dry and straighten my hair into the look known as “boring urban white girl” since high school.

About two weeks ago, I decided to throw in the towel. I’m tired of fighting my hair. Screw it. I’m letting it do whatever it wants to do. Which is probably why everyone keeps asking me if I’ve gotten a perm (the answer, by the way, is “no”).

It all started with a mind-blowing article in Cosmo over Christmas. Honestly, I don’t normally read that crap. But I found my 17-year-old sister’s stash of back issues under her bed while hunting for something to wear. So I went on a little Cosmo binge when I was in Toronto. I couldn’t help it. It’s more addictive than crack.

It’s also wrong on so many levels that Hilary is reading a magazine plastered with headlines like, “Ten tips on how to give him the blow-job that will blow his mind” and “Quiz: Are you the office slut?”

Anyway, the Cosmo article that blew my mind was on how to style curly hair. It suggested washing your hair, patting it dry and then scrunching it with your fingers and letting it air dry. The key was to not brush it, wet or dry. So I tried it. To my amazement, it actually worked. I had a head of cascading waves for the first time in my life.

It turns out that brushing your hair is what unkinks the curl and causes the massive, frizzy puffball. Who knew? Obviously, I didn’t. Here’s another tip: expect share prices in the hairbrush industry to fall dramatically following this revelation – sell now!

Even though I like my new low-maintenance routine, I still think I look better with straight hair. But I’ll stop talking about it. I swear this is the first and last time I will write about my hair. From now on, I promise to leave the inane hair commentary to the pros in the Globe and Mail’s style section.


Anonymous said...

Nice! I can totally sympathize, though my mutated genes do just the opposite - hair that's curly underneath, dead straight at the top, prone to ringlets around my face...and now that it's going grey, crazy sproinging strands that stick straight out - like being silver white in a head of dark brown hair isn't obvious enough!

Anyhow, I'm also contemplating a change - maybe even getting bangs cut (if the stupid salon would quit rescheduling my appointment - really, only in Victoria could 5 cm of snow lead to such catastrophes as cancelled hair appointments!).

Can't wait to see a picture of the non-boring urban white girl.

OK, I've procrastinated long enough. Gotta go!


Anonymous said...

How did you come by that Tim's mug in the picture? I don't recall them ever selling them...


Carrie said...

Holy crap, I have the exact same hair! My 17 year old niece has it too, though more curly than just wavy which is what I got stuck with. The older I get the more normal it has become thank god.

Good for you for embracing your curls. Even if Cosmo was the source for your insight ;-)

And hey, I love Leah McLaren and Heather Mallick too! Come to think of it, your blog does remind me of them. So there ya go, that's good I think :-)

P.S. Apparently, ceramic plated straightening irons are best and newly available everywhere. And Pantene products help tons, for some reason.

Royal*T said...

Hey Sarah - if it's any consolation I too an suffering from hair angst. It's crazy how much time and energy we give something over which we have so little control. Sigh. How about growing it out for a year and a half and then deciding on a whim to chop it off...and then realizing...oh, I could have tried to layer it first. No one is wearing a bob these days (except me)!! I have helmet head. Someone help me.

Sarah said...

Oh no! I was worried about sounding like Leah, not proud of it!!! While I do think she's a great writer, I just don't really like her subject matter. She's a bit of a princess. I suppose it's the pot calling the kettle black. I'll be okay eventually.

As for the Tim Horton's mug...ha! What a story that is! I have no idea where it came from actually. Technically, it's from the kitchen at work. Anyway, it's my favourite mug and I use it all the time. So much so that any time I see someone else using the Tim's mug, I'm like, "Excuse me, that's my mug."

It showed up at the office about three years ago, which is strange because Vancouver is all about Starbucks. Anyone who knows me knows I'm all about Tim Horton's. I'm impressed that someone would spot that in the picture.

As for the hair, I'm happy to hear it has struck a cord amongst women who go through the same thing.

-- Sarah

Sarah said...

Just to clarify...I LOVE Heather Mallick. Her column (not the shopping one) in the Saturday Globe is one of the highlights of my weekend. She's always right on the mark.

And if anyone out there has any advice on good products for curly hair, please let me know. Looking for something to just keep the hair a little more tame.

-- Sarah

The Black Rose said...

When I get bored of my hair, I like to shave it off. Ahhh, the freedom...

P.S. Sarah, there's nothing boring about you!

Sarah said...

No, there is nothing boring about me, other than my hairstyle and the fact that I write about it :)

-- Sarah

Anonymous said...

Hey Sarah,
Sooner than you know it you'll be quoting about your "18-year-old sister." Maybe then will you finally consider me to be at a 'legal' age to read trashy magazines...
As for the hair issue, I have the same problem. Hmm, maybe I'll try that hairstyle out myself. So was that article in the "blow-job" or "office slut" issue? Well I'm off to search under my bed.

Carrie said...

So sorry to say you remind me of Leah Mc.... Seriously, I prefer Mallick too but I enjoy both of them. And I'm new here so you know, take what I say with a grain of salt. I may find over time that you're nothing like Leah after all!! ;-)

Hair...god the hours I used to spend making it normal like everyone elses. Aveda has a palmade thing in a little blue jar. Can't remember it's name - Illuminate or something? Anyway, it's AWESOME. And the only palmade I've ever found that really helps and works to keep my hair normal once I get it styled normal.

Also, the pantene products for some reason (conditioner more than anything else), straightening iron, hmmmm.... that's pretty much all I got :-) Oh wait, there's a natural line similar to Aveda but it's Canadian...starts with an A... their stuff helped tremendously. I'm sure you can get it a hair salon there somewhere since it is Canuck :-)

Sarah said...

Thanks for the tip Carrie. I love Aveda stuff. Mostly the way it smells. I will stop in and ask about the blue jar stuff.

As for Hilary Marchildon, who posted the comment above Carrie...I think the hair story was in the Cosmo with both the "blow job" and "office slut" articles. I still think that at age 18 you shouldn't be reading that stuff. I changed your diapers, for crying out loud! Don't you know that as the baby of the family, you are always a baby?

-- Sarah

Anonymous said...

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah,

I can't believe you didn't come straight to your fellow curly haired swimmer. I have whole heartedly embraced my curls and can tell you there is nothing better than Aveda products to tame the mane. I don't know how curly your hair really is because I've only ever seen your hair after nine or ten rounds under the hot air hand dryer. I too struggled for years with what I like to call the Farah Fawcett syndrome. The time I spent with a curling iron in one hand and a hair dryer in the other trying desperately to straighten and feather my hair, is time wasted that I will never get back. It has also taken me years to find a hairdresser who embraces my curls.(If you want her number let me know.) Everyone I saw before would always want to straighten my hair which at times left me feeling a little inferior about my curls. I was even told that if I swam less my hair would be better....who are these people??

Sarah said...

Hi "anonymous" (aka Annelle),

I would love your hairdresser's number since the last place I went to gave me too many weird layers that only look good when it's flat as a board.

You use the Sap Moss shampoo and conditioner right? I have that too but wanted something to make it more tame (I'm going to the Aveda store on Friday).

You're not the only person who hasn't seen me with curly hair, based on all the "is that a perm?" questions I've been getting.

-- Sarah

Sarah said...

One more thing...

I totally know what you mean when hairdressers tell you how much chlorine is destroying your hair and suggest NOT swimming! Huh?

The lady who did my first ever pedicure told me to tape my toes every time I went for a run so they wouldn't be as gross.

What kind of horrible lives do these women lead where they're too afraid to swim or run lest they wreck their hair or hurt their toes?

I'm proud of my dry, chlorine-damaged hair and black toenails! Who wants to live in a girly bubble anyway?

-- Sarah

Anonymous said...

OK, I can see that there's not much people can do about chlorine damaging their hair, but lots and lots of people, men and women, run a lot and don't end up with blackened toenails (which blue nailpolish really doesn't disguise ;)

Have you considered that your shoes are too small or the wrong fit for your foot? Just a thought...

Sarah said...

At first I thought it was the wrong size shoes, but actually the black toenails are from running downhill. Not much I can do about that. Some of the trails in North Van are really steep and the toes pound up against the toebox. But, so worth it!