Hair: A Mother's Day Reflection

I’m a white woman who loves her hair. It’s thick and wavy and dark brown; now it’s a little grayer than brown, but I’m okay with that. I don’t dye it and I don’t straighten it and I don’t curl it. It can be a little frizzy, but that’s fine. It is what it is. I get it cut in a bob once a year and during the hot weather I put it up in an octopus clip. I just don’t think about it all that much because I don’t want to and because I don’t have to. I .know that that is privilege

I’ve been thinking about my mother’s hair, though. She hated her hair. She called her original color “mousy brown;” I don’t think that I ever saw that color. I only ever saw the dyes. I do know that her hair was thinner than mine and my sister’s (our father had thick, wavy hair).

And then, in the 1970s, she went blond. First by “frosting,” then full-on bleaching, and then, after her hair had been damaged beyond repair, wigs. I remember the wig store. She used to send me in to buy her wig shampoo. I remember exactly the smell of that store.

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Slowly, after the death of my father, she stopped caring about her hair. She stopped wearing the wigs; she stopped dyeing it. And her hair came back—white, to be sure, but we buried her with a reasonably full head of hair.’

She’s been gone for 12 years now. That’s my remembrance for this year’s Mother’s Day.

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