Sharon Randall: Bad-hair day lasts a lifetime

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2012

By Sharon Randall

Despite what my husband and children may tell you, I am not what you’d call hard to please.
But I do have a love-hate relationship with one thing: My hair. I wish you could see it.
What do I love about it? It grows fast. What do I hate about it? Everything else.
Recently, for reasons I don’t understand, I decided to have it cut. Again. As if the last time I did so were not enough to teach me to leave bad enough alone.
For the record, I do not blame the hairdresser. It was not her intention to make me look like a pineapple. No one is to blame but me and my hair.
A bit of history. One of my earliest memories recalls red, tangled curls that kinked and snarled as my mother tried her best to brush them out.
“I’ve seen briar patches,” she would mutter, “that weren’t as hard to rake as your head.”
When I was 7, she decided it might help to give me a Tonette — a home permanent that was supposed to make little girls look like Shirley Temple. Suffice it to say, it did not have the Shirley Temple effect on me.
Instead, it screwed my hair so tightly into my skull I couldn’t close my eyes. Luckily, it grew out fast. In a few years, it was halfway down my back.
One Sunday, my granddad, an occasional Baptist preacher, had me stand in church to illustrate his sermon on how a woman’s hair is her crowning glory.
I didn’t know what “glory” meant, so I asked my mother. “It means your granddaddy’s crazy about long hair,” she said, “but he doesn’t have to comb it.”
The next day she got her friend Kitty to cut my hair in a “pixie.” When she finished, Kitty handed me a mirror and said, “You look like a TV star!”
She was right. I looked just like Howdy Doody.
“Well,” said my mother, “it’ll be easier to comb.”
My sister offered to make me a sign saying, “I am a girl.”
“Don’t worry, honey,” Kitty said. “It’ll grow out.”
When my granddad saw it, he bawled like a branded calf. But at least he didn’t make me stand up in church anymore.
Just as Kitty predicted, my hair grew out. I’d wear it long until I grew tired of it, then I’d cut it short and let it grow long again. Long or short, I’ve never been content with how it looked.
Years ago, for Mother’s Day, my daughter gave me a collage of photos showing me with her and her brothers over the years.
In every photo, my hair was a different length, a different style and a different color. It looked like an ad for cheap wigs.
Family and friends have gotten used to the frequent changes. But it can be a bit disconcerting to readers who are accustomed to how I look in whichever column mug appears in their paper.
When I show up to speak, they want to know who I am, and what did I do with that woman whose photo they see in their papers. It’s a hard question to answer. I often ask the same thing myself.
Some women make peace with their hair, let it go gray, give up blow-drying and hot-rolling and flat-ironing, and find far better things to do with their time. I admire those women a lot.
I’ve had friends who’ve lost their hair due to cancer treatment or other health-related reasons. They wear a hat and a big smile and look great.
When I think of them, my heart swells with pride and I tell myself to quit complaining and be thankful for what I’ve got.
I would love to do that. Maybe when the pineapple grows out.
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Contact Sharon Randall at