Nov 22, 2011

Taking Stock Of Our Locks


It's a bit funny that our mom is in curlers in this photo. She has always had very naturally curly hair. But for most of her teens she sported sixties-type bobs that I supposed required this sort of silly but now almost iconic beauty prep.


And it's probably why she rebelled in her twenties and wore her hair all Yoko style. Long and psuedo-straightened, like a frizzy blanket. But don't let her fool you like she did us when we were little kids, asking ourselves "why can't we have long straight hair like Mom?"

Me with my awkward mop of strangely layered bangs (thanks Mom for the home cuts too) and curls that I would brush out with a plastic bristly brush that was guaranteed to turn any curl into static poof. Kathleen with practically no hair until she was three, just cotton candy puffs of blonde, who would drape our mom's long dark tresses over her own head, and pretend it was hers. If Mom's hair wasn't handy she'd also be known to rubberband pieces of fabric like a headdress on her head to feel like she had long straight hair. Um, strangely fooling no one.


But as we got older, we realized that our Mom's hair was very curly. Especially once she put down the hair dryer in about her mid-thirties and never picked it up again til this day. And guess what? Our hair was curly, too. Especially once we moved out of the house and all stopped using that same bristly plastic brush.


Of course, even though Mom pretty much settled on her curly style and stuck with it, Kathleen and have gone through all sorts of hair evolutions, many disguising the curls. Like Kathleen's "bear buns" phase. Cute little pigtail-style buns on either side of her head that she wore in her late teens. I picked up the style in my twenties for a while, a messier-bun version with bangs. Very art director.

And even though I always influenced Kathleen's hair when she was a kid (sessions in the bathroom with a curling iron, a can of hairspray and a scrunchy and Kathleen comes out looking just like a sister on Full House) we've begun to reverse rolls. Kathleen picks up a style and I can't help but start to adapt it to my own hair.

I honestly think it's because I look at her all the time. But I always go for a less high-maintenance version (granted with less stunning results) but also more getting-kids-ready-in-the-morning friendly. Plus, I think I got some of my Mom's "eh" attitude about just not spending too much energy on it.

Mom always thinks Kathleen looks like Julia Roberts in this picture, by the way. Fitting, since she's a famous "curly-girl" herself who has also gone through phases of curl acceptance and curl denial.


Then we both went darker and more retro. Short bobs and flips. Not a curl in sight.


But over the past few years we've both just decided to go with it.

I actually read a book once called Curly Girl. It was written by a hairdresser who was sort of bucking the system and the snobbery in her industry about curly hair. So even thoug it was a little bit about cultivating your curls and how to cut and style them, etc... what always stuck with me was these little stories and testimonials from other curly girls, and the point the book makes about how society makes us feel about curly hair, and how we make ourselves feel about it. Basically, curly hair equals emotional, messy or out of control. Straight hair equals put together and sharp.

One of my favorite stories was from a straight-haired mom with a curly headed little girl. This mom was so stressed about this mess of hair she was responsible for, and just didn't know what to do, and once she figured it out thanks to Curly Girl (i.e. stop brushing her hair) it was this huge relief.
I don't think our mom ever really stressed about our hair, because she's a beauty is skin deep kind of a person, and a just "go with what you've got" kind of person on top of that. I think Kathleen and I are figuring that out, too. Of course Kathleen is always going to take it to the next level, whether posting an anatomy of an outfit on her blog, or posing as a hopelessly hip designer-turned-model for one day.

Sometimes I pose with her. Not in a model way, like in a personal branding sort of way. You know, now that we're respectable business-types (and yes, curly hair can be professional too.) As you can see the blonde made it's way over to older sister here, as well. What can I say? Kathleen's personal brand is catching.

So in the spirit of thankfulness, thanks for keeping me current, Kathleen. It's maybe not your typical "what-I'm-thankful-for" Thanksgiving dinnertable sentiment. But I think I owe thanks to someone else even more (since I gave her a hard time about the bangs and the brush). Even though it took us a while to figure out what to do with them, curls and frizz and out-of-control and all...

thanks for the locks, Mom.

Now, Donny's hair is a whole other story in itself. From long hair to no hair to the most memorable handlebar (talk about personal branding) mustache. You can read about it here.


  1. I always have and always will love curly hair more than any other type. It's so beautiful & free-spirited. I love your blog, by the way. You have a gift for telling stories.



  2. Well, it's a journey getting there... no little girl ever loves having curly hair (I blame Orphan Annie) but it's nice when you realize you do love it. Thanks for the blog love, too.

  3. When I allow my hair to grow very long, it's wavy. So I can't really do straight OR curly styles very well. The next hair revolution needs to be a "wavy" hair revolution. Cuz I'm clueless and need instruction. And am currently enjoying mine super short, because if it gets to my chin the wave grows in... Meanwhile I am enjoying watching my curly friends rock the curly/natural revolution!

  4. I think about cutting mine super short too sometimes, too. I think wavy hair is cool! You, know, I honestly think everyone thinks other people's hair type is cooler than their own, ha.

  5. I love to read about fellow curly girls embracing their hair. It frustrates me how beauty is often equated with pin-straight, shiny hair. In college I was once told by a female professor to "straighten that mess" before I went to a job interview. Thanks for setting things straight (no pun intended). =)

  6. Molly, Kathleen and I also had a professor who advised students to straighten their hair before interviews. Not the guys, of course, ha! Although, if their hair was long enough to curl, they'd probably to be told to "cut that mess" too!

  7. I have loved Kathleen's hair since the first moment I met her a few years ago. I too am a curly girl who has fought it for years. My husband still isn't fond of it, but I've learned to not care. I have read the Curly Girl book but have struggled with her hair care system. I'd love to know what you girls use and how.

  8. Hey Karla. Yes, the Curly Girl method is a bit extreme (hardly washing your hair at all!). But, I just took away a few tidbits from it.

    My number one thing is I NEVER brush my hair. I finger comb it with conditioner when I wash it only. Also, no one cutting your hair should be using a razor. I always let it naturally dry (except my long bangs that I blow dry with a tiny travel hairdryer) and then go back and use hairspray allover to help give it texture. I used to do the Curly Girl tip of clipping your hair at the roots like with little claw-clips all over just to let it get some vertical height (curly hair tends to expand horizontal but stays flat at top) but I am just too busy in mornings with my kids to do that. My secret is car windows down and just crazy hair by the time I drop them off at school / get to work. You have to embrace the crazy and then you get the most compliments.

    My hair is fine and long so I only wash my hair about once every three or four days. I tend to only wear it really curly the first day and then wear it partially up second day, then braid or side bun third and fourth days. I have a system, ha.

    But Kathleen's hair is thick and short so she goes like whole week without washing. Your hair just gets used to it, it seriously just stops producing so much oil after doing this a couple weeks. But she will get it wet, scrunch it, use a diffuser to dry and then touch-up with small curling iron. I was never big into fancy shampoo before, but now that I lighten my hair I am. I use Kevin Murhpy. I can't recall what Kathleen uses, but I know it's kind of fancy.