And why curly hair is like a truth serum ...
I had just exited from one of the dryest enclosures in the world - an airplane - to return to one of the dryest winter cities in the world - Winnipeg. My day started in San Diego, with a pitstop in Denver, and two plane rides later it was time to go through customs.
Needless to say, after such a long, dry day, my hair was jetlagged.
I walk towards the stern-faced Canada Customs and Immigration Officer.
Officer: Where are you coming from?
Me: San Diego via Denver.
Officer: What were you doing in San Diego?
Officer: What's the value of goods you're bringing back with you?
Me: $100 American, so about $1000 Canadian.
She's even more stern-faced now. My attempt at humour may not have been the smartest. I brace for what she says next.
Officer: And what is your secret to your perfect curls?
What? Yes. She seriously asked me that. I know, hard to believe she'd mention my curls, considering how jetlagged my hair was. It really wasn't looking its best.
Then the officer proceeded to have an extensive conversation with me about my haircare regime and she made sure to get my website information so she could learn more. Given the amount of time I spent talking to her, people in line must have thought I was hiding contraband in my 'fro or something.
But to me this wasn't that surprising. If I go a day without a stranger saying something about my hair, it's either because I've straightened it, or because I haven't left my house at all.
Hair may seem like a superficial thing, but it can actually go skin deep.
Growing up I wanted to fit in, so I'd brush my hair or even iron it. Anything to make my locks look like the other girls'. But the more I tried to look the same, the more different I became - different from others and different from who I was meant to be. Not until much later in life did I finally work with my hair, instead of against it. I didn't know these spirals and corkscrews existed in that frizzbomb. And it's incredible how my personality stirred and became more quirky and corkscrew as well. Since your hair is a part of who you are, to say it's superficial, is to say your personality is superficial. Look, it is superficial if all you care about is how your tresses look; it's not superficial if you care about expressing your true self. That's super-crucial to your self-awareness and development.
From all of the strangers' comments I've received, there's a common thread - or hair strand, as it were. An innocent "Wow, I love your hair," often leads to confessions of trying to fit it, feelings of inadequacy, self-worth and more - and those confessions come from both sides of the conversation.
In a world so preoccupied with beauty, it's interesting how we so often avoid talking about how it affects us, damages us, and how we can recover. And recovery comes from discovery. That's why we need to talk about these things. And that I do, because I regularly have these conversations with women - and men - and kids, because of something they say about my hair.
I've said it before: My hair is not so much as style, as it is a landmark. It's also become part of my brand - even though I talk for a living behind the invisible cloak of radio. No one but my guests see me while I host my afternoon talk show. But it's remarkable how I'm recognized when out in public - because of my hair. Interesting, considering a major news outlet once told me they wanted to give me an on-air TV position, but only if I straightened my hair. "People won't take you seriously if you have curly hair."
1. I think I've been taken seriously by my hundreds of in-studio guests, including: Nobel Peace Prize winners, Academy Award winners, prisoners-of-war, survivors of abuse, famous comedians, diplomats and many more.
2. Why does everything always have to be so boringly serious? It's possible to be fun and serious. Like fu'rious! Well, that came out wrong, but you know what I mean.
What I'm trying to say is people open up to me. No, not because they see I have curly hair. But they see I'm myself - curly hair, frizz and all. And when you are yourself people feel like they can be themselves around you.
But the biggest takeaway here should be clear: You never want to be behind me in line, because your wait will inevitably be longer.
MY TIPS FOR LUSCIOUS LOCKS IN DRY LOCATIONS