Tangled Hair Does Care

When I first started middle school, I decided to grow my hair out. According to my sister, all of the best-looking girls had long, pretty hair, and she was a sophomore in high school, so she would know, right?  

My hair is, to put it kindly, very, very curly. It is prone to tangles, and its propensity to frizz is so strong that you can hear it on a humid day. I don’t know if you know this, but eleven year-old girls are not the most skilled when it comes to hair care. My mission to grow out my hair ultimately led to what can only be described as a rat’s nest.  A rat’s nest that did not go unnoticed by my peers. 

It started with the notes. My hair was so tangled that anything you put into it would stay there. As a result, a group of boys took to ripping up small pieces of paper to put into the nest, often holding an insult or a derogatory name. They didn’t stop there. On one particular occasion, I was digging through my locker to get my history textbook when a boy called Johnathan slammed my locker door into my head. The pain shot from my forehead through my brain, and my ears started ringing. Johnathan snickered and ran off to class. I moved to chase him, but I was yanked backwards, colliding with my locker; my hair was stuck. 

The bell rang, and I was left by myself in the hallway. I had a middle locker, so I couldn’t even sit down. I’d estimate that about fifteen minutes passed before I was rescued. My teacher, Mr. Berry, stepped out of the classroom to take a bathroom break. He spotted me immediately and asked about what was going on. I didn’t tell on Johnathan. Instead, I claimed that I did it myself. Mr. Berry called the janitor who unlocked my locker. We quietly made our way back to the classroom, and I felt the weight of Mr. Berry looking at me. I knew that he didn’t believe it was an accident, but I’m no tattle-tale. 

My mom did not know what was going on at school. If she had, she probably wouldn’t have complained about my hair as much. I didn’t tell her. How do you tell your mother that at age twelve, you’d rather kill yourself than hear one more word about your hair? You don’t. You stay quiet until bedtime when you can cry yourself to sleep, never mind that your sister can hear you through your shared bedroom wall. 

This went on through the end of the school year. The day after school let out, my family went to Disney World. The trip was so much fun, but my hair was hot and heavy and the opposite of photogenic in the Orlando weather. My mom finally had enough. She was going to brush that hair, whether I wanted her to or not. The brush yanked and pulled at my hair, and with each pull, I couldn’t help but scream. My sister was worried that someone next door would think my mom was abusing me, so I tried to quiet down. When my mom saw some of the small insults and notes that I couldn’t remove from my hair, she understood me in a way that she didn’t before. Protecting my newly twelve year-old self-esteem, she promised not to tell my sister about the bullies. Not long after, my hair was cut, and its weight was literally off of my shoulders. 

It was a long time before I let my hair grow far past my shoulders. In fact, it was not until my senior year of high school that I felt comfortable with even the idea of having long hair. Since then, I have let it grow out, and I am happy to report that it makes me look just as much like a certain Harry Potter character as it did back then. The only difference is that I now know how to properly use a hair brush.