My Jewish Hair & I: A Complicated Love Story

All my life my hair has attracted attention. People touch it, people ask if I’ve had a perm (is that even a thing anymore?), and mostly people just try to guess my ethnicity (I’ll never tell). I was always “Hair Girl.”

curly hair

I was raised by a straight-haired mother who was never quite sure what to do with my insane Jewfro. She, of course, thought I was perfect and let my curls run wild. 

frizzy hair

She washed my hair every day, like straight-haired people do. Brushed it, like straight-haired people do. It was, to be frank, terrifying.

hair girl

My childhood was defined by frizz, bad hair cuts, and lots of hats.

curly hair hat

I just did not understand why I didn’t have shiny, swishy, blow in the wind locks like my friends. I didn’t have any curly role models and in the late 90s/early 2000s pin straight hair was all the rage.

awkward phase

When I was old enough to start worrying about my hair, I begged hairdressers to hack off my curls. I wanted to look like Winona Ryder in Girl Interrupted or like Audrey Tatou in Amelie… both styles completely impossible with my hair. That, however, did not stop me from trying.

short hair

I had a truly awkward, awkward phase.

hannah in hat

A pivotal change came when I first read Curly Girl: The Handbook, written by the ladies of Deva Salon. I learned not to brush, that conditioner is my friend, and most of all, to love the unpredictability of having curly hair. Since then I’ve learned to have fun with my hair. I’ve experimented with many styles and most importantly, I’ve stopped trying to look like everyone else.

hannah now

Here are my curly hair golden rules:

Shampoo infrequently.

Condition constantly.

NEVER brush curly hair.

Try not to touch curly hair until it’s completely dry.

Use a diffuser if you must blow-dry and don’t towel dry. Curly hair dries best when it is left soaking wet with a lot of product.

I use SheaMoisture Curl & Style Milk as a leave in conditioner and Deva Curl’s Set it Free spray.

curls and i

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