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Shira Hirschman Weiss Headshot

Mutiny of the Mane

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Growing up, it seemed the source of my stresses involved the taming my tresses. No mountain was too high and no valley was too low, but my "Jewfro" had to go. My hair was naturally curly and unruly and an inordinate amount of products was expended to slick, de-frizz, scrunch and curl my recalcitrant ringlets. I was constantly fearful my hair would misbehave. When it was long, I would twirl pieces, instead of paying attention in class. I would assure that it focused while I could not. When it was short, it was at its most seditious, growing out instead of down, fuller each morning than it had been the night before. While friends were buying shampoos to give hair body, I was the "anti-body." I began thinning my hair while my male friends experimented with Rogaine and Minoxidil.

At the end of college, I began straightening my hair and soon thereafter, no one remembered that it used to be curly. In fact, I straightened it so often that I didn't remember it used to be curly -- that is, until I went to the hair salon and saw the exorbitant bill and calculated the accompanying tip. And then one day, in my 30s after having worn my hair straight for so long, I discovered that it was no longer curly but part wavy and even part straight. The inconsistency was apparent to all when I showcased what I thought would be my "curly look."

"How come it's wavy in some parts and straight in others?" I was asked by more than a few who locked on to my locks.

"Hormones?" I shrugged, conveniently placing blame on the petite perils of pregnancy. But I didn't really know. However, I decided the obsession had to end; I would cry after a bad hair cut and hide for a week, I would spend an hour trying to get my hair to curl and de-frizz just the right way, hours on end in salons, not to mention the costs! No one could rightly claim this was all normal adult behavior.

So, I invested in a piece of material, similar to a rubber band. I threw my hair up into what the Americans call a "ponytail" and interestingly, what the Israelis call a "cuckoo." Cuckoo no more, I began throwing my hair up every day, high above my head and even adorning this look with jeweled headbands fitting of a princess (the Jewish American variety).

I still get my hair blown out straight, spending more time than I'd care to admit to in a chair, but it is much less often than it used to be. After wasting a full day in a Manhattan salon ten years ago for the "Japanese Straightener" (only to have curly roots grow in faster than you could say "Ouidad"), I will not be attempting the "Brazilian Keratin Treatment" any time soon. Don't think my hairdressers aren't mentioning the modern marvel to me every time I see them.

I would rather give my hair the option to duke it out. Curl, spring forward, wave or relax and take a chill... albeit for a brief period.

People who know me know that I am bold, will sometimes second-guess my own bravado, but always persevere and feel vindicated for having taken that approach.

I guess you could say that my hair reflects my nature.

Who am I to put an end to the mutiny of the mane?