- 24 Nov
I have a “thing” with my hair. My “thing” is this: It made me miserable. From about the time I hit middle school on, (hello, puberty) I struggled with my hair, what it looked like, why it looked differently from everyone else’s and why I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted. It was a daily struggle for me, and any time I did something remotely embarrassing – which happened a lot between the ages of 12 and 18 – I thought for sure people were not only noticing whatever social failing I had, but also, my hair.
Friends knew about the hair. If we would all go out in a group, people would compliment one another on a new Benetton sweater or a great bag found at a flea market. With me, it was “Your hair looks good!” in a not-too-convincing way.
My hair was curly. Not nice in a “Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman” way; rather I more resembled Eraserhead (google it). No matter how many Long Island hair dressers my mother took me too, they all seemed perplexed as to why my hair grew out and not down.
The stress of my hair really hit me each summer when I went off to sleepaway camp (4 years in Stockbridge and Cheshire, MA!). During the school year I could talk my mom in to a blow out or even try and do something with it each night to keep it down, but the summer was a different story altogether.
The reasons were plentiful but can be boiled down to these three things:
- No, or limited use, of a hair dryer. Air drying made me look worse, if possible, because I couldn’t use my mother’s brush dryer with comb attachment to try and mat it down.
- Humidity was my mortal enemy, as one could imagine.
- I was a camper during the years of the curling iron, further ostracizing me.
Remember at sleep away camp when the other girls in your bunk made a line and did each other’s hair? Like, you’d do the person in front of you and the person behind you did your hair? Well I was always at the back because no one could even attempt to make something passable out of my frizz-lid. You couldn’t even get a brush through that thing after Memorial Day.
I remember clearly being in the Rec Hall watching a movie with my friends and my Kit Kat bar from the canteen, and suddenly I felt something in my hair. My friend Laura Samstein looked over at me and screamed – a bat got stuck in the nest of my hair. I could cry now just thinking about it.
However, my hair was a great teacher. What I actually learned from all this hair business is that I was more than just a bad version of “Annie” (and yes, I’ve heard the jokes). I was actually pretty popular at camp. I had a group of friends who weren’t embarrassed to be seen with me, or my hair. No one seemed ashamed to sneak out and meet boys by the archery area at night with me. And I had a few boyfriends – thank you Richie Goldberg! – who liked me despite the fact I looked like a rejected member of LMFAO. For some reason it never occurred to me to try and pull my hair back in a ponytail, so I joined the camp softball team (for the hat) and was pretty good. I helped my team win color war one year with my mad ball skills. So despite the fact that my hair was horrible, [full disclosure: it is now relaxed by a professional twice a year] I was able to rise above it and learn, very early on, that it’s what’s on the inside that counts (as long as I have a hat and don’t ever get caught in a downpour).
Katy Krassner is a social media strategist and entertainment writer who has worked with Duran Duran, Robert Plant, KISS, Morrissey and many others. Learn more at katykrassner.com.