The Messy Me

My hair, from femullet to fabulously fret-free 

Mattel’s Malibu Barbie

Like many little girls of my era, I grew up playing with Barbie dolls. While I didn’t have all of the fancy accoutrements or outfits for my dolls, I did have a creative imagination and found items around the house to dress my Barbie and furnish her modest abode. My closest cousin and I took our Barbie bonding time very seriously and took pride in keeping our dolls and their accessories in near pristine condition.

There have been many criticisms about Barbie’s unrealistic proportions and potentially harmful effects on the self-esteem of young ladies struggling with body image issues.

For me, Malibu Barbie and her entourage were simply toys. I don’t recall paying too much attention to Barbie’s physique other than seeing how far her limbs would move around and wondering why her head was removable.

The one physical attribute of Barbie that I did admire was her thick, shiny, long blond hair. Oh, how as brunette with thin, short, curly locks living in Southern California I wanted that beach-y blond look!

As I grew older my hair became progressively more curly, frizzy and unruly. That combined with a series of unflattering haircuts (including a femullet or two) was challenging and made for some extremely un-photogenic memories of my formative years.

I tried many wildly outrageous techniques to tame my wild mane. There were harsh straightening chemicals, expensive (but ineffective) products and gadgets, sleeping in a beanie, ironing with a clothes iron, a bit too much sun-plus-peroxide and assorted other trial and error experiments.

Even if I was able to temporarily force my hair to behave differently, the results were short lived. A slight ocean mist, high humidity, fog or drizzle brought me a disastrous do.

The most humiliating hair experience was the semester of 2nd period PE swimming class during my sophomore year of high school. Fixing my kinky mop drenched in chlorinated water in a gym locker room was about as mind-boggling and unsolvable as the algebraic word problems that followed in the next class.

Eventually, I reached a point of acceptance and stopped fighting my hair’s natural tendency. I allowed it to recover from years of toxic treatment, heating tools and other torture. The low maintenance routine and learning to work with what worked product-wise was refreshing.

Don’t get me wrong, compared to Barbie hair, I still consider every day to be a “bad” hair day. Though, rather than suffer follicle fret and envy what I will never have I choose to embrace not quash my hair’s quirks.

Never needing to primp to perfection is the best perq. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s rockin’ that fluffy fro for y’all!

In a way, my curly hair is a metaphor for my life, my personality and my refusal to conform. Full of unexpected twists, turns, unpredictability and above all distinctly recognizable natural uniqueness, my messy strands are ME and the roots of my identity.

Article contributed by Kelly Blokdijk (block-dyke) an avid learner with a voracious appetite for artistic expressions including the written word. Along with consuming inordinate amounts of content, she thrives on “creating a voice for talent” as a bold, unconventional and wildly enthusiastic human resources, recruiting, organization development and business communications professional.