I got sick in mid-March. By the time I regained any semblance of mental focus or lung capacity it was near the end of May. I Marie Kondo-ed every cabinet and surface of the house. In the interim, the world was on lockdown, my roots were growing in, I hadn’t had my monthly haircut since February, hadn’t had one of the blowouts I had slavishly scheduled for so long, and frankly, nobody—least of all myself—could give a shit! My daughters, son and husband had stylists come to the driveway to cut their hair before Passover and the omer. I decided to abstain.
Pesach, the omer, Shavuot, each came and went. My hair grew longer. My megawatt blow-dryer and flat iron remained in the bathroom cabinet. Hair salons reopened. My hair grew. I started to read about care for curly hair. Black Lives Matter pierced the national consciousness and my own. As with every Martin Luther King Day, Jews of Color came to the foreground of my consciousness as a Persian Jew and president of a Mizrahi nonprofit. I started to embrace my curls as part and parcel of my core identities. Maybe my curls mean Persian Mizrahi Jew. Maybe they mean I finally break from the conformity of all the years I tried to “pass,” whatever that even means. Maybe my curls and waves mean I am tired of spending so much time guarding my hair from the elements and worrying about frizz.
I know that my bucking hair conformity is not earthshattering. And, yeah, I know well just how it sounds to write about hair in the middle of a pandemic and at the onset the new year. I’m self-aware, I promise. In the meantime, I am grateful to have myself back, my hair flowing loosely, God-willing, into my sixth decade and beyond.
REBECCA SASSOUNI, “I Had Planned a Midlife Hair Makeover — Then Covid Showed Up,” Lilith Blog, October, 2020.