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Magic Hair

Amber Adrian

Sometimes the thing we judge the hardest is the thing we want the most.

(Obviously, not everything we judge is some deep desire. As hard as I've worked on my own judgey tendencies, I hardcore judge mean people. Hard. Core. If you are mean, I will judge you, end of story. Or at least end of story until I float away on some ascended cloud which I estimate will happen approximately never.)

Here's what I'm talking about:

When I was in my early 20s, I lived in the Presidio of San Francisco. It's a national park near the Golden Gate Bridge and people could live in it and I did and it's still one of the best choices I've ever made. One of the nearest neighborhoods was the Marina, a land of women who look like golden Thoroughbreds in pricey yoga pants.

One of my favorite past-times was to sit outside in the Marina and try to guess how much each woman spent on grooming per month - whatever I estimated it took to get skin that glowing, hair that shiny, and nails that perfect. I would cast my predictions in an admittedly judgmental tone of voice.

I hope none of them ever heard me because, wow, rude.

It took me something in the range of two decades (two actual decades) to realize that I wanted to feel safe looking that polished and pretty. That I wanted to be able to spend that kind of money on myself.

My highest standard of self-care was to spend twenty minutes getting ready for senior prom, wearing a dress I bought in a Venice Beach stall. Being Not High Maintenance was a point of pride. Spending the smallest amount of money possible on my appearance was an ingrained frugality, experienced by many of us who were raised by parents who were raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression.

But then, some nineteen years later, I learned the magic of the blowout. I learned that getting manicures elevated my mood - and, weirdly, my productivity - by a startling percentage. I learned that facials are awesome and massages are even better.

I want to be one of those people who does that kind of thing regularly. I want to be one of those shiny Thoroughbred women. I was kind of ashamed of that for awhile. I'm still a little uncomfortable writing about it. For all the reasons that may or may not be running through your head as you read this.

Taking good care of myself still feels downright revolutionary. It still feels like a splurge I'm still not quite worthy of. And that is straight nonsense.

If I want it, I want to have it.

If you want it, I want you to have it.

If we judge it, but secretly want it, I want us to have it - even if it takes decades to get there.

We are worth it. And we are goddamn allowed to have it.

So here's a picture of my first official blow-out. My afternoon post-blow-out was like a movie montage. I'm convinced my hair was magic that day, and has been every other day since that I've had it professionally wrangled or done my best with the mousse and curling iron.

Hooray for magic hair and significantly less judgment!