“Moving along, I reached toward the back and grabbed the hair-styling containers. It had been over a year now since I needed hair products; my collection sat unloved beneath a layer of dust. Mousse for scrunching. Gel for sleeking. Conditioners bought under buy-one, get-one-half-off deals. Expensive pomade for sculpting flippy-dos that only flopped. How much had I saved this past year without hair? I turned toward the mirror and ran my fingers through my ultra-short layers. Feeling a little bad ass and channeling my inner Joan Jett, I squirted a dollop of gel into my hand and spiked my boy cut. Tilting my head, I smiled at the fuzzy undergrowth of hair filling in along my scalp. The excitement of this hair growth was offset by the fact that my scalp had filled in starting at the back. However, the bangs, for whatever reason, were torturously taking their time. Just like a newborn. This cruel order of growth bitterly required haircuts; otherwise, a Billy Ray mullet would replace my Joan Jett spikes in no time.
I pushed aside the hair products and endeavored to untangle another box containing a mess of black electrical cords. Over the years, I had accumulated quite the collection of curling irons: black and silver, fat barreled, skinny barreled, and the stupid, spiral curling iron that never worked. I even found my old crimper; although looking back, I am not sure why I felt the need to go with a hairstyle reminiscent of being electrocuted. Completing my hair appliance collection was a set of hot rollers, you know, for those big, bouncy, natural looking curls.”
~Excerpt from Little Changes.
It’s amazing how much time we spend doting and loving on our hair. I’ve done just about everything with my hair. In high school, my long hair was a walking advertisement for the spiral perm, a look clearly inspired by Top Ramen. I’ve dyed it various shades of red, auburn, and burgundy. (Burgundy was not a good look for me.) I’ve even cropped it above my ears, channeling my inner Winona Ryder (her pre-shoplifting years of course). And just like Rene is embracing her natural hair, I too am in the natural hair phase of my life. I haven’t colored it in a couple years and now sport rather straight, limp locks. But I’m happy to report they are healthy straight, limp locks.
The story of Little Changes isn’t one of extremes. We don’t talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water, but focus instead on what Everyday Me’s (busy working women & busy stay at home moms) can do to choose wiser products that will ultimately lead to a healthier body, family, and world.
This topic has never been more relevant as the sweeping subject of formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowout continues to rock the headlines and news shows. ABC, NBC, NPR, and the Washintgon Post have all reported the facts of this topic, and bloggers and hair stylists like Jennifer Arce are speaking out about working with the toxic product in their salons. The question for me, and one we continually ask in Little Changes, “Is running with and maintaining the status quo more important than our health?” Sure, everyone loves the look of long straight hair, especially if you don’t have to straighten it everyday. But is that look worth exposing yourself (and salon workers and the kids you bring with you to the salon…c’mon, you know you’ve done that at least once) to toxic formaldehyde fumes that are a known carcinogen? For me, I’m trying to choose wiser where I can so I can continue being a mediocre mom to my three children even longer. They are so lucky.
There are groups and organizations standing up for you and working to protect you from the harmful effects of formaldehyde, but are you standing up for yourself? And what are the options? Well, embracing your natural look and curls is certainly one way to go. Rene found her authentic self through her hair. But you can also choose safer ways to straighten (if you must) and safer ways do exist. Are they perfect? No. Will they require more time? Perhaps. But making little changes in what we smother on our body (or our hair) can go a long way towards respecting our bodies and health, and embracing our own authentic self.
Have you or do you use hair straighteners? How do you feel about the known risks? Has any of the news about Brazilian Blowout made you rethink your choices? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your hair stories!
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Rachel Vidoni is a professional writer and blogger and former classroom teacher. She is a mediocre mother to three pretty neat kids. You can follow her humor and family blog at www.eastcoastmusings.blogspot.com. You might not be a better parent after reading her blog, but you will feel like one.