Chapter 3 – Hair



About My Hair. 

Now that I have confronted and conquered my lack of ability to draw, it became obvious that it was time to confront my biggest problem in life. 
I had this stuff on the top of my head. Now I was a young girl, about age four. No I wouldn’t call it hair, I guess it would be called a bush. Fuzz, fuzz and more fuzz.
My mother would try to brush it and I would spend the next ½ hour crying. The brush would pull and be so painful. She’d eventually get the hair into long finger curls and by the next morning it was fuzz again. And the pain would start all over.
Now it was time to go to school. No time for that kind of ritual, so she’d take me to the beauty parlor where I would definitely leave without beauty. The lady would basically shave me head and leave me with what looked like a boys haircut. Until high school I just lived with the pain of how I appeared.
But then I started high school which was a mixed race school. I also had very dark skin, and after a summer in the sun, I was extremely suntan with black fuzz on top. I was now in charge of my hair, so I let it get a little longer. My problem was that it would not stay in any style for any period of time. And in those days there were no hair products. But in a mixed race school, I actually felt like I belonged. There were plenty of girls who had my same problem. And I was accepted because I didn’t really look out of place. 
In the last half of my senior year we moved about 40 miles to the Northside of Chicago. New school, all white and me and my hair. But I was welcomed into the class, met Norma who is my dearest friend to this day, she introduced me to Bobbie, and we were 3 buddies. Norma had and still has the most beautiful perfectly thick, straight light brown hair. Oh how I envied her hair. We graduated, went on to the University of Illinois, Chicago Branch. But that was short lived. I met Al who accepted me, with that very dark skin and very difficult hair. He never saw me that way. In his eyes I was beautiful.
My obsession became the beauty salon, where I would have hair washed one day a week, and go back two more days a week for what was called comb-outs. Oh the money I spent on my hair. I even considered going into partnership with my hair stylist. We were now living in St Louis Missouri. I was told my hair would relax after childbirth. I gave birth to two my two daughters in St.Louis Relaxed hair was a myth. After our move back to Chicago my hair got totally unmanageable. Many a night I cancelled on our dinner dates and would retreat to bed, where I would hide from myself.
I was doing my ritual 3 day a week beauty salon, when Robert my hairstylist asked me the very best question. How can you as an artist, devote so much time on your appearance? Why don’t you just let it be really natural?
And so here’s the  photo of my acceptance of my wonderful hair. That was the last salon visit. I trimmed my own hair when it needed it and do that to this day.
Another problem confronted and resolved. It only took 30 years. As part of my art life, I would model for other artists. Here’s a painting done by Chicago artist, Tom Dudas. Everyone loved painting my hair. And I loved their paintings.

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