The Price of Good Hair

This morning Jane was in tears. She couldn’t get her hair into a high ponytail. My eleven year old daughter was crying because she is having a bad hair day.

I get it.

Finally! Something about parenting that I can understand and that I can fix. Jane has hair like mine. If you see me taping Momversation you’ll see that my hair does not grow longer, it somehow manages to grow wider. I realize that you are going to try and interject logic and reason to this discussion, however you are not a Jewish woman. Trust me, we’ve got hair. We’ve got big, fluffy, thick, coarse, ethnic hair. Girls like me who grew up in lily white suburbs spent our childhoods looking longingly as the blondes who complained that their hair was too straight.

My daughter’s hair is much straighter than mine, but it’s thick. It’s too thick for a single pony holder from Goody, so she uses two at a time.

Survey.com asked 2,000 women on behalf of Pantene if they would give up 10 IQ points for a lifetime of great hair, 57% said yes. Holy crap. I asked Jane if she would give up one IQ point for great hair, she and I both smiled, because we’re smart enough to feel conflicted about our answers either way. I couldn’t bring myself to ask if she’d be willing to give up 10, that’s not an answer I want to hear.

I’m mostly happy with my hair, but I’m 39 and I know my way around a blow dryer. I also know that great products give you great hair. I’m also giving up my hair color and shampoos as both are L’oreal. Since L’oreal is owned by Nestle, I can’t buy their products any longer. My friend Lisa calls it my “Joan of Arc moment”.

Everyone should have a friend like Lisa. Someone who understands that giving up your hair color is much more difficult than giving up Pellegrino or Perrier (which will also hurt).

I feel bad about some of my parenting, we all do. I’m not sure I’m sending my daughter the right message, but I’m going to take her for a Keratin treatment. I’ve had it done twice, it’s not affordable and I don’t care. I know that I can buy Jane some good mornings, and that’s what I’m setting out to do.

As for me? I’m back to my Ole Henriksen products, and I’m experimenting with hair colors. Let’s hope no one notices.

Would you take your eleven year old daughter for a chemical process on her hair?

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25 Comments

  1. I started processing my hair when I was in the 5th grade… Bad perm. Started coloring in 8th. Been a blonde ever since.

    I use the Keratin products… Just started actually. I was interested in the Keratin relaxing treatment, but my hairdresser said I wasn’t a candidate. I’ve heard amazing things about them, though.

    Good luck!!!

  2. I got highlights at 12. I don’t think I could bear the thought of my baby’s beautiful virgin hair being processed. My 5 year old has curly crazy hair… but I just love it.

    But… I’m still stuck at missing Pellegrino and Perrier. Love me some sparkling water…

  3. i’ll be 29 in may and i have never colored my hair. it’s never even crossed my mind. i’ve been told that once you start, you won’t be able to stop until you’re 6 ft under.

  4. Jessica, you might have missed, but yesterday we had a lively discussion dying your toddlers hair pink…i saw some girls in this scholarship/modeling contest with pink hair that were 4 years old.

    To me, I think no way in hell.

    But at 11, you are starting to get that whole preteen/woman thing and i bet she wants to look nice. Maybe take her for a deep conditioning and let her feel special. I personally wouldnt do the dye thing so young only because its such a lifetime commitment.

    You get one chance to be naturally beautiful and its now. I bet she is gorgeous no matter what.

    trisha

  5. I can assure you my mother would not. She would not let us use conditioner (not until I screamed and cried, in high school, and she -swear to god- called the pediatrician), or any hair products. She was convinced anything but shampoo would cause our hair to fall out.

    When my friend’s 7 yr old is over and I wash her hair, I put a little conditioner in the bottom of her hair so it’ll be less knotty.

    Honestly, I think 11 is young for a chemical straightening, but it’s your kid. Post before and after pics? I’d love to see how it comes out.

  6. To clarify, the Keratin treatments smooth out your hair, they don’t change the color. It just becomes more manageable and much less “poofy”.

  7. chris

    Probably not. Not at eleven – maybe as a teenager. I have two step daughters and one moved in with us at age 14 and I didn’t let her get highlights in her hair until the age of 15. I think it’s a personal preference, there is no wrong answer. Just like the ear piercing debate as babies (I for one thought it was crazy to add another physical issue to the mix when just having a newborn was hard enough). Plus hair maintenance can be so expensive and to keep it up just for myself can be a burden. Just my two cents.

  8. Yep. You bet. As a tribe member myself with what is easily the most difficult hair in the world, I grew up getting my hair “relaxed” just like my african-american girlfriends. (Thank goodness there are better products now.) To this day I ask a new stylist how comfortable they are with coarse, curly “ethnic” hair as a judge as to use them or not – most don’t believe me on the phone when I say “white girl/black hair”, but eventually? They get it. Luckily my 8yr old got my curls but Daddy’s texture (AMEN AMEN) so her road is much, much easier hair-wise.

    You guys enjoy — and find a terrific conditioner for her. Too bad you can’t use Kerastase — it is The Savior for this kind of hair. Let me know what you find that is comparable!

  9. Love it! There is a lot of debate out there about chemically treating a child’s hair. I think the best thing to do is make sure the chemicals are not harmful to the child and to ensure the child isn’t going through the process because of some latent hatred of her hair. After all, she is the one stuck with it. (neither are situations you would ever put your child through, but wanted to make these points anyway).

  10. In a minute. 12 is a really important age and learning how to take care of your apperance and feeling good about yourself is something that will stick with you for a lifetime.

  11. In a total coincidence, my sister just sent my my sixth grade school photo. I was 11. I would do anything to help that girl who was me feel better about herself. Hair treatment? Sure. (Also, I looked ridiculous. But it was 1990 so it wasn’t my fault.)

  12. As a proud owner of a Jewfro I am pleased to be male so that I don’t have to worry about this. Spent years with a flat top which is one of the best and easiest ways to deal with our hair.

    Sadly, the lord or age has decided to take some of my hair so I have had to change it up a bit. Still, this is one of those times that being male is a huge advantage but I don’t suppose that it is going to help my daughter all that much.

    She has this striking black hair that is thick and beautiful. Wonder what will happens when she gets to be a bit older.

  13. My sister has really, really tight corkscrew curls that were impossible to manage when she was younger. My mom took her to get her hair relaxed when she was 11 or 12, but the hairdresser suggested a perm instead, which would maintain the curl, just make them bigger and looser. Her confidence skyrocketed as a result…suddenly, her bad hair didn’t make her stand out and look awkward, instead her gorgeous curls just made her prettier! I guarantee she’ll never look back and wish you’d held off on relaxing her hair, she’ll be grateful for it.

  14. I could see doing that or something similar if she wants it and you think it would have a good outcome. I think I was 13 or so when I got my first perm. BAD. But what you’re considering sounds much more sophisticated!

  15. Look anywhere that I have pictures. Anywhere. Isabelle has unmanageable hair. It’s a nightmare. A beautiful one, but a nightmare none the less. We bust Goodies right and left and inly use B&B or Gymboree bands and Lusters Pink Lotion. (you must try those both and tell me what you think) Keratin, Japanese straightening, organic relaxers-yes-yes we will. As soon as she asks. Because you’re right. Life can be tough enough, why not help her with this?

  16. My mother is a retired hairdresser, so as I grew up if I wanted a perm/highlights/color change I was in a chair before my request had finish leaving my lips. I don’t have an issue with changing a child’s hair as long as it’s their idea or they are on board. It’s another way for a young woman to express herself and an avenue for getting to know who she is.

  17. Ironically, the women who would forfeit 10 IQ points for great hair are the ones who could afford to spare them the least.

  18. I have been destroying my hair since I was 15. I’m trying to fix it now with very expensive conditioning treatments. I hope that my baby has better hair than me.

  19. meribon

    My hair is the total opposite of your daughter’s hair. Weak, limp, and super thin. To wear a ponytail I need to wrap the holder around 4 or 5 times or else it’ll fall out. I’d LOVE to have thick hair! But I guess as they say, the grass is always greener…

    As for the keratin treatment, if you’re talking the Brazilian kind there are so many different products out there. Some require you to wear a mask and use a fan to ventilate the fumes – pretty scary. But recently there’s been a BKT product created that’s formaldehyde- free. I’d try to find a salon that uses that one.

  20. Ashley

    I would let my daughter get the treatment. I was cursed with terrible hair! It has to be cut short, it just won’t grow long at all! When it does it’s a thin ratty mess! If my daughters turn out to have my hair I would certainly let them get an expensive hair treatment.
    I keep my 2 year old’s hair in a longer bob, and mostly keep it in pig tails :) If I don’t it’s thin and ratty lol.
    I am however looking into some more natural hair products and dyes..so if anyone knows of any…

  21. Jen

    I too am a member of the clan and have a jewfro of my own. Growing up with this hair in a state full of straight-haired Anglo Saxons was really difficult. I didn’t find a good stylist who knew how to handle my textured hair until I was 14. But as soon as that happened, my world completely changed. Maybe, like me, she just needs a different cut – one that allows her hair to lay properly, and therefore lends more manageability. I just think she would be better served to learn how to take care of and appreciate what she’s got. Our hair, while often unruly, is the most beautiful on Earth! And like others have mentioned, once you start processing, it’s just so hard to stop.

  22. I totally would. In a heartbeat! My daughter has amazing hair – the kind people would kill for – and she feels really good about her hair. She’s 10 and loves her bouncy, shiny ponytail. It’s easy to do for school, goes right up in a bun for dance classes, and looks good when she takes the pony holder out and it’s just down. It’s a lucky thing to have good hair. Something as simple as a keratin treatment once or twice a year for easy hair? DO IT! (and, don’t tell anyone this next part, I’ve been able to guide some of her clothes choices / purchases more toward “innocent” and away from “skank-in-training” with the simple phrase, “I don’t really think it goes with your hair.” Truth.)

  23. I had my first perm when I was 9 and had two more by the time I was 12. Yes, I was that blonde girl that complained about my straight hair. Who doesn’t complain about their looks at a young age?? Unfortunately for me (or my Mom because she was paying for them), perms never stuck in my hair for very long. My hairdresser said pre-puberty hair doesn’t hold perms well. It may just have been me because even now, I can’t get curls in my hair without a gallon of hairspray. Hopefully the Keratin treatment sticks! My vote is to go for it! :)

  24. I can so relate to this! I will often say that my hair could be a star in its own horror film. It’s thick, wiry, course and unruly. It’s not straight and it’s not curly. Anybody who has straight hair who wishes they didn’t is kidding themselves.

    I did permanently straighten my hair for a period of time (heaven!) and my hair was pretty nice after my duaghter was born and a good proportion of my hair fell out (sweet memories!) But as I started going grey when I was 17, if I wanted my hair in decent condition I had to choose between colouring and straightening. I picked colouring.

    I say go for it!

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