By Renée Sylvestre-Williams
This isn’t an article about race and hair. In my entire life I’ve had exactly one conversation about good hair. I was eight, maybe nine, and was spending the weekend by Granny. I had long hair then and Granny was brushing it in preparation to braid it.
“You’re lucky to have good hair,” she told me. That conversation ended immediately because after she said that, she found lice.
No, this isn’t about good hair, this is about how ridiculously hard it is to find a hairdresser who can cut curly hair so it looks good and professional. I know I’m not the only one who had or has this issue.
Yes, I’m a freelancer, so I can rock a certain amount of bedhead. But there’s bedhead and then there’s rat’s nest. Curly hair needs moisturizing, tender loving care and a damn good hairdresser. I’ve always worn my hair curly except for the six months when I fell in love with my straightening iron and fried my hair.
People say, “You’re lucky you have curly hair. The curls can hide a bad haircut.” No, actually they don’t. If your hair is thinned, there’s nothing for your hair to grab onto and your hair just looks stringy. If you get a blunt cut, it looks bushy. Layers can make you look like a hair metal groupie from the eighties with a deep abiding love for Cinderella (the band, not the princess). There was a period of time when I had lots of blonde in my hair and wore it straight. Mom said I looked like a cocoa panyol.
Why am I going on about this? It’s because hair has connotations. Curly hair is not seen as professional hair. My friend Liz is currently in law school. Turns out there are certain hair expectations: Straight, shoulder-length and a blunt bob. I can never do that. I don’t want to change my hair, I just… want it not to look like it spent the night at a kegger and then crawled back to rest on my head while I was asleep.
My quest for a good hairdresser has led me to stop women in the streets, once in a Burger King, to ask about their hair. I found a brilliant hairdresser that way. We were very happy together – him, me, my hair – until he fell in love and moved to England. “That’s so romantic!” I told him. Internally I was wailing, “No! Don’t go! My hair!”
Yet off he went and I was again looking for a hairdresser who knew how to cut curly hair. A few failures later – including the time I let a stylist thin my hair and ended up with JLo-worthy curls – I found Michael from Earth Salon. I stopped a woman on the street and asked about her hair (again) and she told me his name. A quick google later and a check of my favourite curly-hair site, NaturallyCurly.com, and I booked an appointment to talk hair. Michael looked at my hair, got his hands into it and then, we committed to the cut.
It’s been love ever since.