AN ADULT WHO GAMBLED ON A PERM
“I have naturally wavy hair, but it’s inconsistent. I was always trying to make it a bigger puffball on my head, but I couldn’t get enough body. My hair had reached this length—just above my shoulders—where it wasn’t quite doing what I wanted. A perm seemed like the ultimate change.
“My stylist [Susan Flaga at Sparrow] was apprehensive. When you chemically alter your hair, it doesn’t behave in the way you expect. It’s like a boob job—it’s semipermanent, it’s not a simple process, and it’s kind of intrusive. It changes the structure of your hair. She wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t cry. I have no regrets. I love it. I haven’t decided if I’d do it again—it’s kind of a fun one-off—but I’m addicted to the volume now.”
—Jessica Paulson, 26, sales
A WOMAN WHO DITCHED RELAXERS
“Growing up, I begged my mom for a perm because I wanted to fit in. On occasions like Easter, there was an unspoken rule that everyone would get their hair pressed. Whenever my hair started growing out kinky and curly, I felt like I needed to fix it to look my best. I stopped chemically treating my hair 13 years ago because I really wanted to love it in its natural state. Now I have three girls, and I want to pass that mentality on.
“My six-year-old already feels pressure. She’ll say, ‘I want my hair straight.’ It has to do with television—Hannah Montana—and different media. I say to her, ‘You don’t have to have your hair straight to feel beautiful—these curls that God gave you, that’s what makes you unique.’”
—Rachel Odem, 33, beauty blogger
A MAN WHO EMBRACED SILVER-FOX STATUS EARLY
“[The graying] started in my early 30s. Since then, it’s gotten worse—or better, depending on how you look at it. It just hasn’t stopped.
“After my hair turned rather silver, when I saw photos of myself, I thought, This makes me look old. But there were enough compliments that made me think, Maybe this is a good thing.
“I’m sort of lucky in where it grows and that I have plenty of hair.
It’s a combination of the silver, having a full head of hair, and having some wave to it. My dad had a very nice full head of totally white hair. I guess I inherited it from him, and he looked good all the way to the end.”
—Lee Allison, 51, men’s accessories designer
A 64-YEAR-OLD WHO DEFIES CONVENTION WITH LONG LOCKS
“I didn’t go long until I turned 60—and I’m 64 now. I actually went through breast cancer that year. I didn’t have to have chemo, and I didn’t have to lose my hair. I thought: I haven’t had long hair since I was in college. I decided to go back. It was a life-changing experience.
“When I was younger—maybe 10 or 15 years ago—I might have thought it not so appropriate to have long hair at this age. My grandmother did, but it was always up. We never saw her hair down, except in very unusual circumstances. I used to have that perception that older women don’t have long hair, but I guess I’ve gotten over it.
“It is more work than short hair—it’s probably more work than a lot of my friends are willing to go through—but it makes me feel good.”
—Susan Petrella, home loan officer