R29ers On Hating, Hiding, Bleaching, Gelling & Learning To Love Their Hair

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The relationships we tend to build with our hair are complex. Some of us yearn for curlier, longer, straighter, blonder, darker — anything we're not blessed with innately. Some of us worship our hair as is. Others opt to buzz it all off. All the same, our hair sentiments are perpetually subject to change: We cultivate this relationship — like all others — over time. There are highs and lows and middle grounds.

To honor the arc of each of our hair narratives — complete with all of their particularities — we asked four R29ers to craft love letters to their own hair, armed with Dyson's latest hair care technology, all of which is designed to streamline (and elevate) the styling process without causing extreme heat damage.

Here, we asked for apologies, admissions, callouts, and, most importantly, statements of hair-centric love. Perhaps they'll make you reconsider the way you've been treating your hair lately.

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  • Rissa
  • Victor
  • Lucy
  • Seung

Listen, I’m sorry about the relaxers, okay? Things were different back then — I was different. For so many years, I desperately wanted you to be straight. I thought that the more scabs I had on my scalp, the prettier you — and thus I — would be. I know now that I was wrong — that your volume and versatility are gifts.

I love you for all the ways you’ve bounced back from my various experiments — literally and figuratively. After the migraine-inducing tension of box braids, or all that blonde bleach, you managed to revert back to yourself — coiled and voluminous and full of life. You are resilient, hair.

You have always been fickle — you change with the weather, the combs I use, the shampoo I choose. In college, without access to a salon — and without my mother nearby — I tried everything when it came to styling you. We spent hours together in my shared dormitory bathroom, where I practiced braiding, and blowing out, and flat-ironing. I wanted to master you, but I was flailing.

Now, I’m learning to reel you in and treat you right. I keep you tucked into a bonnet while I sleep. I opt for a silk pillowcase (only the best for you). I style my hair in the mornings with the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer because I know you’ll look flawless, without enduring the damage that comes from dyes, hot tools, and tight braids — because it loves your curls as much as I do.

You, hair, are central to my identity. I’ve always been quiet — introverted in the most classic sense. You were the maker of statements, so I didn’t have to be. You made me more outspoken.

We make a good team.

Remember when I used to comb you into tall gelled spikes — a little like the men who hang out along the Jersey Shore year-round? For a little while, I loved that. I’m sure you never did.

That was when I was new to the U.S. — when I wasn’t sure what, exactly, I wanted my hair to look like. In the 10th grade, I suppose I was just starting to get a sense of who I was, and how I wanted to present myself. That’s when I began to grow you out. You were kind — healthy. You grew quickly. Of course, that was not before I made you suffer through that awkward phase, when you were neither short nor long. Just an uncomfortable in-between.

All the while, I was a little unsure about you. I loved you, but I didn’t know if you were right for me. I was so tempted to make regular appointments at the barber, just as I had growing up — fades and crew cuts and clean lines. But you were never the clean-line type. Neither was I.

When I moved to New York, rather than feeling othered for that version of independence, I was praised for it. I was surrounded by artists and designers and creatives of all kinds who celebrated me for my unique, overstated sense of self. You became the first thing people saw when they looked at me. I loved that.

Now that I’m fully comfortable with you, in all your curly erratic length, I’m working on the next step: reigning you in. I want you to be versatile. I want to wear you big and vivacious, I want to shape you into perfect buns, and I want you smooth, shiny, blown-out, and tucked into a ponytail. Now that I’ve discovered the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, with all its attachments, all of our limits have faded to nothingness. There’s no hair feat we can’t accomplish — you and me, together — be it sculpted, bouncy curls, or sleek, blown-out locks. We’ve got a long journey ahead of us.

I’m sorry I spent so much time wishing you were different — wanting you to be brown, or red, or curly, or thick. I’m sorry for coating you in harsh bleach and dyes that made you dry and brittle (and why did I think red highlights were a good idea?). I promise, I’m working to make it up to you.

It’s taken me a number of years — numerous jobs, relationships, apartments — to gain the sort of self-confidence I’ve always admired in other women. But right now, I can say, self-assuredly, that I feel truly at home in my own body. And you, hair, are a part of that.

I’m finally learning to appreciate you — for making me feel connected to my parents and my siblings in all our hair uniformity, for somehow surviving the chemical hell I put you through, and, most importantly, for making me feel proud and happy to be myself, rather than wanting to look like someone else.

I’m learning to love you — even on the mornings when I wake up to find that you resemble several toupees of different lengths, all piled on top of one another. I’m also learning to implement daily routines that nourish you and make you shine, without harming you in the process, including styling you with the Dyson Airwrap™ styler as a way of making up for the damage I inflicted upon you. Now, you’re rife with effortless waves, none of which require extreme heat or a debt-inducing Mediterranean vacation to make a reality.

I’m sorry it took me so long to want to put you on display. To make you the very best version of yourself, rather than wishing you were different. To introduce you to products that keep you healthy and strong. I’m so grateful that you’re mine.

I know we haven’t spent so much time together lately. I know I haven’t given you my full attention. But I assure you: It’s not you, it’s me. I have truly never known how best to approach you.

Other women have always admired how straight, how low-maintenance, how easy you are. I’m sorry for mistaking that for boring — and for looking to cover you up in bleaches and neon dyes. I didn’t know how else to play with you — I didn’t understand you. I was angry about your baby hairs, your streamlined texture, your simplicity.

I have always seen hair as an extension of fashion — a way of making a sense of style come to life. But for whatever reason, I applied that rule to OTHER women — not to you. I am only now learning to style you with the same devotion I apply to my outfits. I’m turning to products like my Dyson Airwrap styler to give you a healthy, bouncy volume, highlighting all the personality you’ve had all along.

I’m choosing to be fearless — to hack you into bobs, to try bangs, to grow you out in nuanced, off-kilter ways. I’m keeping you healthy — using products that won’t scald you or dry you out. And most importantly, I’m loving you, even in your purest, most unadulterated form.

Sure, it’s late in the game. But I’m here now — let’s start over.

Written by Eliza Dumais, Art Directed by Elsa Jenna & Andreina Carillo, Illustrated by Twisha Patni, Typography by Ionut Radulescu, Photo by Isabella Alesci.

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