I had so many things happen to me after having kids that did not feel normal. But I was told they were normal. By people who had never had kids. Or by people who did not have those things happen to them.
For example. Stretch marks. I gained 35 pounds even before I got pregnant the first time. I was on an unavoidable medication and that weight gain was what I knew would happen. My body did not appreciate that extra weight and I got horrible stretch marks. Has anyone checked the Instagram accounts of any public person you know who has been pregnant? They don’t have stretch marks.
Another example: I made very big babies with my milk. And they wanted to be carried a lot and they did not walk until quite late. I ended up with 3 hernias. I had several surgeries. Complications from surgeries. More surgeries. No one I know has had hernias from heavy babies. And you can’t swing a cat in this town without hitting a woman who has had stomach surgery, and complications from stomach surgery are so rare. Except for me.
When my first son was 6 months old, my hair fell out in a shocking “male pattern baldness” way. It never fully grew back. I have 2 patches of hair less than 2 inches long which hides under the hair that lays over it.
The hair example is one of the more difficult of the things I am told are “normal,” since I used to have hair that reached my lower back and it was thick and complicated.I even grew a ratty dreadlock I loved on the underside of my hair in college, because my hair curled and kinked underneath the top layer which was just dreamy and hippy chick awesome.
When I was on What Not To Wear after my second son was born, they chopped off—with my reluctant permission—6 inches of that hair. It’s not their fault, but it really has never grown back. It grows a few inches but those inches are dry and brittle and ratty. They don’t curl or wave like the rest of my hair.
And it’s not because of damage from chemicals because I don’t color my hair. At all. I was a redhead once in college. What Not To Wear dyed me a raven color but it grew out and I have never dyed it since. I don’t ever blow dry my hair. It gets straightened twice a week for eight months of the year for the past eight years of The Big Bang Theory, and I’m told it’s “normal” for hair to be damaged because of that straightening.
And then I have friends who blow dry their hair every day for 35 years and it’s thick and gorgeous and strong and healthy. I even know two women whose hair is so thick they have to have it THINNED because the thickness is unmanageable! These women act put out because of it—“Ugh, my hair is so annoyingly thick!” but that to me is a little bit like saying, “Ugh, my breasts are so perky, it’s so annoying!” No one really hates having thick hair. Or perky breasts.
And it’s not because I am vegan, although hair professionals have tried to get me to eat meat. I know plenty of vegans with gorgeous hair.
And I’ve tried the supplements, Biotin and also trace minerals and expensive hair products that well-meaning hair people kept shoving my way. They made my sideburn hair grow 3 inches and then it stopped. So now I have peyos like Orthodox Jewish men do. And they won’t grow longer. It has been about 3 years like this. I keep tucking them behind my ears like my Modern Orthodox friends do.
I don’t ever go to a salon or hair stylist. The wonderful women of the hair department at The Big Bang Theory have given me trims over the years but I have refused trims for a good year, hoping it would grow.
It grew a little, but it was depressing me every time I tried to do my own hair and I started fixating on it. Like I do.
And so my dear friend Chanel—who is a fantastic make up artist but had never cut a woman’s hair before—trimmed the dead ends. Several inches of them. Dead. Brittle. Gone.
My hair felt too short after she cut it, and it kind of still does. But I also know that this may just be me. I may not get to be the sexy fortysomething with long sexy hair, unless I am walking a red carpet wearing extensions which remind me what my hair actually used to be like.
This is my hair. Because the dead ends which wouldn’t curl are gone, it holds its wave better. I’ve been told my “virgin” color is beautiful by many hair stylists trying to find something good to say about my hair. No one else in my industry has this length of hair. Long hair is in. This cut? Not so much.
But I know there are women out there like me. Women with stretch marks. Women with hernias. Women with Samson-like complexes about their lost youth, their lost sexiness, and their lost potential which our culture indeed ties up in our hair.
I’m trying to find the best in me right now. And the best in my hair right now is its honesty. Its lack of denial. No more wishful thinking. No more hiding. This is me and this is my hair.
We are doing the best that we can.