Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Curious Case of Lauren's Locks

So... how do I deal with my hair while overseas?

It helps that I have been doing my own hair since I was 17 years-old. I haven't stepped into a hair salon in years. 

My hair's not usually like this, but it's fun when it is!

However, some folks with hair like mine aren't as lucky and need a professional's help. Those can be particularly hard to find, especially when you're in a country where few look like you. The good news is that girls and women can usually find a way to solve their problems. They either learn to do their own hair, or find at least one person willing to take them on ... although that usually involves paying a premium.

As for me, what has my experience been?

The majority of my issues have to do with how people react to my hair, believe it or not.

  • In just about every country, including Argentina, Korea, Colombia and China, I had people simply stare at me. This is especially so whenever I wore my hair out in an afro. Even though there are lots of people of African decent in Colombia, all of them straightened their hair.
  • Sometimes I have to deal with comments. Some of these are positive and some are negative. These can be something nice, like, "Oh, your hair is so pretty!" However, in Korea I have had kids tell me that my hair was bad and ugly. Korean youngsters and old people love to ask me whether I wash my hair. Yes, not "How often do you wash your hair?" but "Do you wash your hair??" 
  • Then, there's the touching. If I'm lucky, someone would ask first. Unfortunately, folks usually just reach out and put their dirty fingers in my hair. Older women and men in Korea are sneaky, they'll inspect my locks and most of the time I won't even notice. The worst experience was when a woman in Bogota, Colombia, grabbed my arm, pulled me toward her and exclaimed that she just needed to touch my hair. I can't stand it when people touch me when it's not appropriate!
There are other challenges I face. While I usually bring enough product to last my stay, sometimes other people are a bit careless. At my home stay in Argentina, someone used up all my shampoo. Today, I have to warn folks who sleep over to not use my hair products. That's because it's not easy for me to get more of them. I've also had to work with bureaucratic types who don't have equipment designed for curly hair. I once went to a swimming pool where everyone was required to wear a swimming cap, and none of them fit on my head. Another time I had to wear a helmet, but all of them were too small.

But that is all. In the grand scheme of things, I adore my hair and just try to make the best of the situation.

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