Monday, September 29, 2008

The Nylon Mullet

Recently, I was in the shower washing my hair and I got a surprise: My hair has grown to the length where it reaches about mid-biscuits when it's wet. This means that when my hair gets wet in the shower, it slaps me between the cheeks. The first time it happened, it startled the heck out of me. It's just not something you're expecting in the shower during a routine hair washing.

At the same time, it was a huge moment in my hair saga. That soggy smack was like an announcement that my hair was finally long. My hair is now long enough to give me a friendly slap on the cheeks as if to say a cheerful "hello".

This made me think of one of my many misguided hair attempts from long ago. When I was wearing my hair texturized in my mid-twenties, as always, it never grew past my shoulders because of the chemicals. And I really wanted that long hair to swing over my shoulders dramatically. In my weave days I discovered I wasn't coordinated enough to pull off a whole head full of weave: I tended to put weaves in wrong, so my head was Elephant man lumpy. And when I put all my hair in extensions, it tended to mat up by the time I got a chance to redo them. So my big idea at this time was that if I added hair that matched my color and curl patten—but just in the back of my hair only—that would give me realistic-looking length. I reasoned that the extensions would give the back of my hair time to grow long itself, and when I took out the extensions, my own hair would be the same length. That was the theory, anyway.

I spent hours, days, and many trips going to various wig shops and reading hair magazines looking for hair to match mine. Real hair that was curly and sold in bulk generally wasn't available in a long enough length for me. So I ended up checking out the bags of nylon hair. I tried to be clever. I'd buy two differently colored packs and textures of nylon hair to try to make them seem more realistic. Then I'd braid them in the back, and sort of comb the nylon hair to try to get it to lose the fake doll-hair shine. The plastic hair hated that. It matted together into odd, multi-colored puffs, giving me a tortoiseshell-cat fur appearance. I had to replace the extensions frequently because they snarled so badly.

Still, for it to look realistic, I couldn't venture very much longer with the extension hair than my own broken hair's length. For the most part I kept the fake length just long enough to peek out from beneath my texturized waves. But one time I became frustrated and hair hungry. I wanted me some long hair darnit. So I bought some new, tightly s-waved nylon hair. And in the very back, I put in about five of those long extensions, just in my kitchen area. These few strands were long enough to brush my lower back.

The thing is, as I remember it, this couldn't have been a good look for anyone. Hadn't I basically given myself a terrible, terrible mullet made of scraggly nylon pieces? From the back view, my head must have appeared shaped like a bell of texturized fuzz with about five octopus tendrils of fake hair hanging down from out of it. I must have looked like either a crazy hair person, or a person who had forgotten to remove the last few pieces of her extensions. At the time I was giddy with hair and it impaired my judgment.

I remember taking it out for a test drive. I walked around in downtown Louisville during a summer visit with my mom. I remember having two opposing feelings as I walked around: As I moved, I could feel the nylon hair gently swaying against my back. I had never felt that before, and I was exhilarated. It was the nicest feeling I could imagine at that moment. What I wouldn't do for real hair like that! Yet, on the other hand, I knew those extensions were too long. I knew there was no way anyone was buying it. I kept waiting to be called out. I almost wished someone would say something to yank me back to reality.

No one said anything to me, but I took them out that night anyway. I consoled myself with the bittersweet memories of feeling the soft swish of hair against my back; the stuff of dreams.

So when I felt that cold wet smack of hair in a very personal area the other day, I realized my real hair is now much longer than that fake hair I couldn't pull off wearing years ago ever was.

And now, things are so different. In a tank top I can feel my real curls gently swish against the exposed skin on my back between the top and the bottom of my pyjamas. And though it's now been several years that I've been able to enjoy the swoosh of my hair against my back, I still get that rush. Like having been hungry for so long, and now I'm eating my favorite food and I'm still grateful for it. Like I still can't get over that I don't have to go home and take out all that phony hair in shame. That I don't have to walk around obsessed with whether my fake hair could be detected or not (that one was easy—it could be). And that I actually get to keep this hair, and it didn't come home with me in a crinkly plastic bag.

24 comments:

rae1234 said...

wow your hair is soo long. its beautiful. i love your blog! very inspiring ! keep writing!

joy said...

Your hair is very beautiful. Your blog was also very well written. For long hair I found some good info on www.longhaircuts.org

Former Mushroom-Haired Child said...

Hi rae1234 and joy,

Shucks, I appreciate so much your kind words about my hair and blog! Thank you so much for reading.

Anonymous said...

Your hair is truly an inspiration and you are a talented writer. I look forward to your book. Thanks to your insights, I think I may finally have my hair figured out, so I can't wait to read the full details.

Ariel said...

(laughs) You're awesome. I've never been as adventurous as you when it comes to doing stuff to my hair. I've only ever permed it and that's it. I kept it up (and still do) a lot of the time plus the guy who did my hair was really good at what he did.

Anyway, your hair is gorgeous but I don't know if I could handle mine being that long. It's just too thick and there's too much of it. We'll see though.

Also, I'm working on my email to you, I haven't finished it yet but I have a couple ideas about a future site that I'd like to run by you.

Take care!

Muze said...

lol @ a bell of texturized fuzz with about five octopus tendrils of fake hair hanging down from out of it.

hahahaha.

your hair is BEAUTIFUL. and extremely long. i'd go crazy with mine that long. lol.

i'm currently aiming for bra-strap length.. and no longer. but it's definitely a very good look on you.

that banner is ADORABLE. lol.

lovely blog. i shall return!

carrie said...

I soooo love your hair!!!! I swear, I've spent years perming my hair for that look (of course to no avail with my mousy hair). :o)

So I was browsing Amazon.com and came across your profile. Are you really in WA? I just moved from Portland back to CA a couple weeks ago (in between jobs)... we were in visiting distance!! Ash still has his job in Monterey so I'm back in this area. I would love to get back in touch and catch up....
-Carrie :o)
BTW, your blog is amazing...

Anonymous said...

I don't know what i would have done without your site. Your story inspired me to cut off the relaxed hair, transition with ease, and now my hair is past my shoulders and healthier than ever. You are a goddess! Thanks! Please keep us posted on new products, accessories, and techniques.

Former Mushroom-Haired Child said...

Anonymous, thank you so much for all the wonderful things you said! It makes me so happy to know I have helped in any way.

Ariel, I really enjoyed your email, and it's fun writing to you.

Muze! Hi! I love your blog! I love the way you talk about your magnificent, beautiful natural hair. Thank you so much for visiting me!

SG! Where are you? My email is the same. If you have a chance, please give me your number so we can talk (or I can give you my new one). So good to hear from you. I hope things are well.

Anonymous, I appreciate so much all your kind and encouraging words. Congratulations on cutting off the chemicals! That takes courage, but it is so worth it! Having natural hair is a huge gift you give to yourself. And it sounds like your hair is happy and growing fast.

Yvonne said...

Very cool. Your hair is just gorgeous and more important healthy. I'll be stalking your blog and waiting for your fab book to come out soon.

Felicity said...

Your hair is very beautiful and very long. Congratulations on keeping it so lovely and your book will help at lot of women.

Former Mushroom-Haired Child said...

Yvonne, garsh, thank you for the compliments! I know I've done plenty of my own stalking of blogs that I like, I'm really happy you are stalking mine!

Felicity, I appreciate you writing all those nice things to me about my hair and book, and for your support.

ReBirth said...

Very inspirational- indeed you are. I enjoy reading your blog and will continue too. Keep Writting or else!!! hahaha

Anonymous said...

Your hair is great. It is difficult to believe that is the same hair, what a transformation!!! Congratulations!!!

Anonymous said...

I love your hair, it is amazing! I've been natural for almost two years. I guess you would say I have a 4a texture. I dont know if you subscribe to the hair typing system, but type would you say your hair is 3b, 3c, etc. I am just wondering if my hair my look like yours when mine grows out.

Former Mushroom-Haired Child said...

rebirth and anonymous (3): thank you so much for all your kind words! And thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

anonymous (4): thank you for what you said about my hair. If I had to classify it, I'd say it ranges from 3a-4a, depending where on my head it is. I show a few more photos on Hair Shots to give a better idea of the type of curl I have.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there!

Wow....your hair looks fabulous!!

I am black and Puerto Rican...hair issues for ALL of my life...probably not to the extent that you have had them...but still...

When a girl has hair issues, that is a major focus in adolescence...

Now...my hair is cut short and I love the short length because long hair just seemed so fragile and hard to care for and condition well...

I am soooo happy that your blog will help white women who have biracial children because I can always look at a biracial child and TELL which parent is white.... if the mother is white, the little girl's hair looks like it is a "problem" for the mom to deal with.

It's not in cute styles like the biracial little girls whose moms are black.

Your site is helping sooo many little biracial girls overcome their insecurities due to having "mixed" hair.

I have seen sooo many biracial girls with their white moms and it is so obvious that their moms have not taken the time to investigate what to do with biracial hair and it usually does look like a nest...

You are saving SOOO many girls from the shame of their "nest" and helping them to enjoy their beauty in all of its dimensions!!

ShanSoPink said...

WOW! You have my DREAM hair!!

babesran said...

With that type of hair i would be swinging it left and right showing it off as much as possible!!It is so beautiful and healthy looking.I can't wait for my hair to grow that long.

prettysunshyne said...

LOL! I love that blog! Mid-Biscuits..that's too funny. I'm so happy for u though..you're hair is so gorgeous. Thank u so much for sharing ur story w/all of us :o)

Prettysunshyne

Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog and your information site. I love, love your hair.

I am on my quest to now use the right products and to correctly brush and comb my curls. I cut my hair off back in 6 of 2001. My last relaxer was that Jan or Feb. Between 2001 until now, I have been trying all kinds of products and not realizing until now that I was damaging my hair. It did grow...but it should be much longer by now.

2 strand twist for a good year or two off and on, and putting my hair in a bun, helped me grow my hair alot.

I then wanted a change, couldn't afford the biweekly press and curls and I was working out and getting frustrated with my hair. So I wanted to try my first sew in's. I had about 2 different ones in 2006. I enjoyed them while they were in, but my scalp didn't take well to them.

I also started pressing my hair often in 2006 and noticed a tremendous growth in my hair. I then got the brillant idea to try color. so....

Early 2007, I went to a salon for color (highlights at the top only) and a trim; as it always happens she didn't just trim, I left with a cut. Straightened my hair was still touching my shoulders and the top of my back, and it was also layered. I wish I had not went in for the color or "trim".

I slowly started trying to wear my natural hair out, but again would get frustrated with the frizz. Summer/Fall of 2007 I tried another weave. Loved it again, but it killed my scalp and my hair was horrific when I took it out. Matted so badly. I vowed to not get a weave ever again.

From then on until now, I have tried to love my curls and some products worked great (Pantene Relaxed and Natural) and others didn't. Or they wouldn't work the same the third or fourth time. I continued to slick my back in a bun (brushing and brushing with a bristle hair brush...now I know its a NO NO), straightening my hair with a blow dryer and flat iron, combing while my hair is dry. Here I am thinking my hair is healthy but could use a little help, because it should be much longer and healthier. I've also experienced dry scalp. Within the last few months, I have found several hair care sites which have helped me learn about shampoos stripping the hair, pre-poos...oh thats another thing. I wasnt conditioning my hair like I should have before summer of 2008. Sometimes I wouldn't!!!
Now I condition all the time, give myself hot oil treatments with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and I am on my quest to fine some pure shea butter for my skin and hair.

Alot of people love my hair, but I now realize why my hair has not reached its potential. And I am so happy and excited for the future. To see the possibilites and the lengths I will reach. Thank you for your kind advice and information. And letting us all in on the proper care.

I apologize for this being soooo long. I just wanted to let you know my story, so when I come back to update you, you might remember me. ;)

ShandaR

Curls rule said...

Thank you for all the tips. I have been using a brush with balls on the ends that's been tangling and breaking my hair. My hair grows fast and I usually find some way to sabotage it by using a texturizer to lengthen the curls. Recently, my hair grew to my lower back but it only hung a few inches below my neck because of my tight curls. So I used a texturizer and I end up cutting alot of my hair because my curls were too stringy. The texturizer worked ok when I left it on for less than 5 minutes. Then I did it again a month later for about 10 minutes. That ruined it. I will send some pictures after using a new brush and conditioner.

LongHairDontCare said...

your story is so inspirational! thank you for sharing your journey and being so honest about the trials and tribulations that you've gone through!

xBiracialxBeautyx said...

i love reading your blog entries, i recently found your blog and i am so into what you have to say.