The Babe Mane

by bonnie azoulay

My hair and I weren’t always this close. We were once estranged sadly, due to years of neglect on my part. To be fair, this thing atop my head came into this world with me—a circumference of black curly chaos I could imagine took up the whole hospital room—and for better or worse it was my responsibility to take care of it. I just didn’t know how. I remember my mom spraying my little Jew fro as a kid with L’oreal and brushing out the satan-like knots, letting me roam free smelling like one big citrus fruit. As I got older I chemical-ed the shit out of my mane with keratin treatments, wearing a mask over my face during every application because the toxic fumes made me gag. The price of beauty right? Then I got smarter, because breathing>hair and tried more ‘au natural’ keratin solutions. Even then, I would sit there for hours all in the hopes of some day living frizz-free.

  In high school I took biotin (sworn by health aficionados) because classmates made me vehemently aware of how short my hair was in comparison to theirs. I even tried  Mane n' Tail shampoo meant for HORSES that promised me a full grown ponytail. Short hairdos weren't the *in* thing like they are now. Back then librarian’s were the ones sporting bobs, not celebrities. I went so far as to mix margarita-like concoctions of different hair products I found over the years to see what would tame my unruly beast. Nothing worked. 

    And then a funny thing happened once I hit 20. Almost like a second wave of puberty, (Surprise!) my hair started to grow. But, plot twist: This year I wanted to cut the whole thing off. With the suggestion of a friend (shoutout to Rachel Erani who made all my curly haired dreams come true), I went to her really phenomenal salon called Seagull on West 4th street and got the BEST haircut of my life. At first it felt like a silent fuck you to all the people who made my babe mane and I feel inadequate but then it became my own form of liberation. For years I was trying to transform my hair into something other than my very own, instead of embracing what my mama rightfully gave me. Even though my ringlets still weighed me down, I suddenly felt lighter. Like any other mother to their rebel child I gave my crazy locks the right tools (in my case, products) it needed and finally set it free.