For more than half of my life, long, luscious hair was my white whale.
My mom says I was bald until I was 2. There’s also photo documentation of this. When my hair did start to grow, it was baby-fine with loose curls, and I could never get it to grow past my chin. When I went to school, I was so jealous of the other girls with shiny, thick, pretty hair gathered into long ponytails. I remember watching one of the little girls in my class have to pull her hair out from under her coat after putting it on. I realized I didn’t know what that felt like because my hair had never been long enough to get stuck in my coat in the first place.
Over the years, I did everything I could to embrace (i.e. change) my hair, from scrunching it with sour grape-scented (original) Aussie Sprunch Spray to pump up its volume or flat-ironing the living crap out of it to make it seem longer. I took vitamins and supplements. I did deep conditioning masks and got regular trims. I stopped getting trims altogether. Nothing would make my hair grow past my shoulders, and nothing was going to take it from Tom Petty baby hair to Ariana Grande ponytail.
During high school, a new cheerleading coach took over and required we wear ponytails to each game.
That was the final straw.
I was certainly NOT about to pull whatever hair I had up into a skinny little ponytail that would look even more puny next to the comically large bow I was required to wear.
In the mid-2000s, hair extensions were starting to become available to normal people. You didn’t have to be on a Disney Channel show to rock long, luscious waves. I purchased my first set of clip-in hair extensions with money I got for my 16th birthday. They came from Sally Beauty Supply in a line that’s since been discontinued. The minute I secured the wefts and watched the silky, dark brown strands cascade way below my shoulders, I instantly felt powerful and have been hooked on the feeling ever since.
For almost 12 years, extensions have been the only truly constant piece of my beauty routine. Even through the months-long process of taking my naturally nearly black hair to a honey blonde, I bought a new set of extensions for every shade in between. I can pop them in while sitting just about anywhere — from my home vanity to the car at a red light — and can do it in under five minutes. I’ve tried tons of brands of extensions over the years and spent entirely too much money on someone else’s hair.
My hair transformations through the years
I’m not shy about them and regularly provide a show-and-tell to anyone who inquires about them. Many a frenemy has tried to put me on the spot about my fake hair, only for their futile attempts at embarrassment to be dampened when the majority of the women present gather around me to learn everything they can about clipping faux hair onto their heads.
It’s weird to write about beauty in an age of “wokeness.” Body positivity, loving thyself and being comfortable with the image in the mirror is something we embrace more than ever before. There are days I feel icky about hair extensions because I should just embrace what I’ve got. Then, I clip them in and feel their power. I’m a superhero. I can do anything. I can tackle whatever’s in my way.
There are lots of things to be upset about in this world, and plenty of people have bigger problems than their hair. But this is a beauty column, and it’s also about taking care of ourselves. Doing things that make us feel our best is good for our souls. That’s the power of beauty. It can transform your entire world. I’m not hiding behind my hair — I’m celebrating who I am and putting my best self forward.
Do you have a beauty product that makes you feel powerful? LET ME KNOW AT GMAZUR@TIMESSHAMROCK.COM, @GMAZURTT ON TWITTER OR @MISS.GIA.M ON INSTAGRAM.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT