You can tell the exact year I discovered Frizz-Ease by looking at my school portraits. One year there was a mop of curls atop my head; the next there was a shellacked helmet. I'm smiling, bigger than I ever have before, thanks to John Frieda’s famous product. Looking back at that proud moment now, I'm ashamed. Somehow, through the magic of commercials, Tiger Beat, and the cruelty of teenage girls, I had become convinced that my hair was something that needed to be “tamed.” I didn't have curly hair, I had frizz.
Frizz-Ease was launched in 1989, only a few years before I hit puberty, and according to some estimates, one bottle is sold every 30 seconds around the world. The product, a silicone-based potion, promises to turn anyone's tresses into glossy, stick-straight strands or perfectly-formed ramen noodles. The reality, of course, is more complicated.
I came of age during the height of the Rachel, an impossibly sleek and angled hairdo that was the essential bat-mitzvah look among my peers. Every time I went to the hair salon with my mother, I would dutifully flip through magazines searching desperately for an alternative, something on the Meg Ryan-Minnie Driver spectrum. But the truth is, I didn’t have the volume of either. Legend has it that I used to have tight spirals like them, but one day, around the age of five, I refused to brush my hair. A bowl was put on my head and my locks were chopped off, never to grow back the same way. According to my mother, that was when my baby curls loosened into waves. She still speaks of that day with regret.