A SPONGE NOT BRILLO PAD

I just had a childhood flashback while washing the dishes. Growing up my Dad was a Boy Scout leader of a local troop and all of my brothers participated in scouting.  As the only girl I often was forced to tag along on camping trips since my mom assisted with the troop.  I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 and I remember being on a scout trip and one of the boys said my hair looked like a Brillo pad. He along with other teased me the whole weekend and threatened to use my head to wash the dishes. 

It’s funny how things stick with you from childhood – especially any name you are called. However, children remember good things too.  Like I always knew that being adopted and looking different than everyone else meant I was special. How did I know that?  Because my mom and dad told me all the time. But being special didn’t seem fun if it meant someone was going to use my hair to wash dirty pots and pans.

A couple decades and a million ounces of conditioner later, I know full well my hair is NOTHING like a Brillo pad, however my hair is a total sponge.  I laugh anytime I read directions on hair products. “Use a dime size” “pour a capful” “add a bit” Ha!  I usually triple or quadruple the amount suggested and then add more later.  Of course the longer my hair the more product I use.  My hairdresser from home, Cynthia (you’ll hear her name a lot), was the first to call my hair a sponge.  Notice different than my childhood tormentors she called my hair and not me the sponge.  She said my hair soaked up everthing. Water – she had wring out my hair several time before styling.  Relaxers (yes had a few back in the day), heat (try sitting under a dryer for 2 hours and still having damp ends), color, shampoo, conditioner, mousse, gel, curl cream, oil, you name it my hair absorbed it like it was a plant in the desert.

Because of the amount of hair products I use I am always stocking up when my go-to stores (CVS, Sally’s or Ulta) have sales. I love that all of them allow me to return products if I find they don’t work for my hair or I just don’t like them. As long as they are 3/4 full any of those stores give me my money back.  I can’t afford to throw away money with the amount I buy.  Since I typically wash my hair twice a week I always buy 2 conditioners for 1 shampoo.  When I find a styling product that works like Tigi Curlsesque (formerly Curls Rock) curl cream in the turquoise and black pump bottle I buy a bunch. 

So if you take anything from this post know that compliments and positive reinforcement go a long way with anyone but especially children.  When you are growing up and you have any feature that’s different and/or draws attention other kids can be pretty cruel and we need the love and support of our family and friends.

 

head full of hair – total sponge

And if you or yours have a ton of hair like me don’t ever follow the label when it comes to directions or if you do…double, no triple it. 🙌

Taking the plunge

After decades of being asked about my hair I have finally decided to find a forum to share what I have experienced.  So no matter what your curl story is you will hopefully find a way to connect with my curl chronicles or in the least enjoy a good story or two.

First, let me introduce myself, my name is Courtney Marie.  I was adopted when I was only 7 weeks old by two amazing people and grew up with my brothers in a small town in central Pennsylvania.  When I was about 9 I found my birth certificate and discovered I was mixed (according to my paperwork I was “mulatto” – more about that in a future post).  I know very little about my birth parents beyond their age and race.  What I do know is that I grew up in a house and a community where the faces and hair did not match mine.

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t struggle in some way shape or form with my hair.  Only the innocent baby you see in this post lived a life free of hair problems.  I know if you asked my mother she would say she also bore the pain of the early years.  I can remember sitting between her legs while she brushed my hair out.  She didn’t have Google or YouTube to assist her in the challenges of raising a daughter whose hair was nothing like her own.  She also couldn’t ask a neighbor or find a hairdresser in town that had hair like mine.  We were on her own.  My mom’s solution?  Cut it short when it gets too long to deal with.  Short curly hair combined with my brothers’ hand-me-downs resulted in being mistaken for a little boy more often than not.

Thinking back I only recall wishing I had wavy red hair like my mom or straight dirty blond hair like my cousin.  In fact, I am pretty sure I spent about the first 20 years of my life wishing I had hair that wasn’t mine.  Little did I know that women out there do it all the time and it is just called weave (again a subject for a future post).  There are a number of reasons why I didn’t love my hair but they all come down to a common denominator – I didn’t have someone to help me or to identify with.  I don’t blame anyone – it was my reality at the time.  Luckily, any little girl in a situation similar to mine now has access to so many resources to help them learn to love their curls early.   Maybe I was nudged by Dove’s new #loveyourcurls campaign  http://www.dove.us/loveyourcurls 

My family - circa 1982.  Can you spot me?

My family – circa 1982. Can you spot me?

Regardless, here I am taking the plunge and sharing my journey with my curls.  It is an ongoing roller coaster ride that I have learned to love.  I do love my curls and I am so glad God blessed me with them.  That does not mean I always know what to do with them or how to take care of them so you can join me as I continue to learn what works and what doesn’t.  Welcome to my #curlchronicles and thank you for reading my first post.  Please subscribe or come back for more.