I have curly hair. It frizzes. It spirals. It is heavy. It’s voluminous. It is wild. It has a mind of its own. I love it. I hate it. It is a complicated relationship.
These curt, definitive sentences say a lot about my hair, but not everything. What they do not capture are the years I have spent trying to understand my hair and where it fits in with the world. They don’t capture the amount of money I have spent on hair products and conditioners, the hours I have spent in the CVS aisle, trying to find “just the right” hair product. They do not capture my middle school years, where I battled and agonized and fought with my curly hair, so desirous of that stick-straight, smooth, blonde hair that characterized “beautiful” in my mind, and still does too often in our society. No, those short sentences do not and cannot capture that ridiculous urge I feel to hug every curly-headed woman and girl I see on the street close to my heart and cry out in pride at being a part of this beautiful tribe.
Okay. So clearly my relationship with my curls is a bit complicated. But if you have curly hair, you know what I am talking about, and if you don’t, chances are you probably have someone close to you in your life who knows what I’m talking about. The truth is that my hair is as much a part of my identity as the fact that I am a reader or a sister or a person who loves to cook. My hair reflects my personality in so many ways, and it is a huge part of the way that I present myself outwardly to the world. I have a sense of humor about my hair too, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit how big it is in my life (both metaphorically and literally, har har). So when I caught wind of Elizabeth Benedict’s curated collection of short stories on women and their relationships with their hair titled: Me, My Hair, and I: Twenty-seven Women Untangle an Obsession, I was over the moon.
Here is a book whose central focus is unpacking women and their relationships to their hair — hair and its complexities, hair as identity, and hair as connected to race, culture, and ethnicity. I am only a few stories in, but so far I have only good things to say. Here is a book that is giving due time and words to a subject that is on more peoples’ minds than just this one curly-headed weirdo. Pick it up. Read it. And for all of you out there that have had at one point or another some kind of insecurity or question about those locks on your head (which I imagine is all of us), they are awesome, and they are you. Embrace them.