Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Forever Frizzy, Or How I Learned to Accept What I Cannot Change

When I first arrived in New York City three-and-a-half years ago, I underwent huge adjustments from my prior life in suburban/rural Utah. Fortunately, I found that I adapted pretty easily, and I didn't mind things like carrying groceries home on the subway or paying an exorbitant amount for rent.

However, there was one thing that I never ever thought I'd get used to.


I had lived my entire life in arid Utah, and up until August 2012, I didn't know what it was like to sweat. And sweat. And sweat. In dry climates, heat is often described as "comfortable," and I definitely felt uncomfortable, sticky, and all around disgusting for pretty much the rest of that summer. Add to that a tiny apartment with three other roommates, a window A/C unit that would short out if I tried to use my blow dryer at the same time, and my cowlick-y bangs. It was a definite low point for Emily.

I can distinctly recall googling "do people ever get used to humidity?" because I was certain that the Internet knew and understood my pain. How could I survive in New York City with such frizzy, nasty hair? I struggled long and hard, fighting with my previously pin-straight locks, and realizing that such a thing would never be in a place like NYC.

The next year, I broke down and bought an expensive keratin treatment at the beginning of July, and I spent the subsequent months loving my smooth hair and the beauty and freedom of a frizz-free summer.

But then, slowly, things started to change. Maybe it was age, maybe it was my increased status as a "true" New Yorker, and maybe it was the fact that I started noticing all the other frizzy hair around me:

I embraced my curls. I stopped trying to force my hair to behave how I thought it should. And I was happier. 

I've realized that the thing I once hated most about New York City is now something that I don't mind for the most part. In fact, I love not having to put on gallons of lotion every day to keep my skin from cracking off. I love freak rainstorms. And, I love my curly hair. More than that, though, I love seeing the diverse frizzy, curly, wavy, straight, and everything-in-between hair that comes with the 8 million people around me.

Before I moved here, I wanted to fit the mold designed for pretty much every white girl in Utah. If this meant hours of flat irons and styling cream, failed attempts at up-dos and messy buns, and frustration beyond belief, I was going to try it. I have never been particularly talented or successful at doing hair (and I refused to take part in the "Utah Poof"), but I wanted straight hair like all my other friends, and I did everything necessary to ensure that a stray curl or un-managed frizz didn't give me away.

Now, I acknowledge that every bad hair day I have comes with at least 7 other people who have it as bad or worse than I do. That may sound harsh, but it was so liberating for me to glance around a subway car and see the way that other people embraced their frizz and went on with the more important aspects of their day. By accepting the fact that I have naturally curly hair, I am free to walk through Manhattan's wind-tunnel streets focusing on the more pressing matters at hand--like trying not to step in poop.

Let the frizz out, and open yourself to a world of possibilities. 

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