Like our African-American, African, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern sisters, curly-topped Latinas follow the humidity index like entry-level CIA analysts are monitoring the revolutions in the Middle East. Mami has light brown, fine, straight hair, and struggled with not one unruly set of locks, but two (Lil’ Sis always had “better hair”).
Mami’s solution? Short hair. Protestamos our Dorothy Hamil ‘do(n’t) that because of our frizz looked more like a Chia pet. She promptly mastered french braids, although most days it was the get-any-working-mother-out-of-an-AM-jam ponytail, finished with a brightly colored ribbon. Then there was the sheer humiliation, made more acute at age 12 when I was entering the beginning of a lifelong Mars in retrograde phase, at André’s Hairport in San Bruno. La estúpida estilista called over all her friends and exclaimed, “Like, she has so much hair! Have you, like, EVER (!!!) seen SO MUCH HAIR?”
The first phase of my kinky-haired agony ended the next summer in Colombia when Las Tías took charge: my revolutionary rulos were no match for La Toga–a combination of huge tuvos and remaining hair pinned clockwise around your head so tight, this Hispana hair wrap interfered with oxygen replenishing neurons and sleep. Then there was the hard hat dryer stationed in the kitchen–again in big curlers–where I was banished for hours. I was so self-conscious of my hair, I thought my graduating 8th grade class at St. Dunstan’s was ridiculing me when I was voted, “Girl with the Best Hair.” (They weren’t. Apparently, the boys loved my loca look.)
Now, I’ve ascended to the Chi iron, an ionic blow dryer, and spending all my discretionary income on Kérastase Bain Oléo-Relax, the only (and I’ve tried all) products that control this cabello.
Funny how memory works, no? This pic of a model’s hair being styled backstage at Carlos Miele’s Fall 2011 Collection during New York Fashion Week brought back flashbacks of my decades-long hair struggles. Forget madeleines, Marcel Proust! The smell of burning hair evokes remembrances that aren’t so past.
While I’m on topic, here are some Fall Collection 2011 looks designed by the ever-elegant Brazilian Carlos Miele, that you can pull together from bold-colored basics (including a pashmina, a wrap dress, a big belt, a one shoulder dress or top paired with skinny jeans, palazzo pants, or a pencil skirt. Not. All. At. Once!) that are likely in your closet.