Hair and Fashion


One year in middle school, I challenged myself to invent a new hairstyle for every day of the school year. A huge feat, I know. Sure conquering quadratic equations or really committing to rolling my r’s in Mr. Barrios’ class should’ve come to mind, but I needed new goals. Plus, I figured my r’s would ring of authenticity if I went to school feeling awesome about myself and my hairstyling accomplishments. Now, for my friends who grew up in these good old United States,  we understand that the school year is approximately 180 days, give or take a snow day in the frost-kissed North or the torrential weather systems of the sunshine South. This means 180 days of literal hair-raising ingenuity never before seen by the likes of my middle school peers, or me for that matter. I don’t believe I fully understood the weight of the task I had dared myself to take on, especially since I had probably only been doing my own hair, sans Mom, for about two to three years. My repertoire was limited, but I was going to set it free. Poor girl.  

Hey, look! It’s Mr. Barrios!… Or en Español, Señor Barrios!

Needless to say, most of my creations were Picassos, wherein their fame may have proven posthumous if only I had kept visual record. Thank God phones didn’t have cameras back then, though I’m sure somewhere there’s a Melissa Haircasso original lurking around in a neglected pile of photos developed from an unsuspecting disposable camera. God bless it. 

Ode to the 1990’s Box Braid, compliments of Mama Dukes, while my brother rocked a faithful fade. Fortunately for me, I haven’t recovered the ashes of any of my hair creations photos I might have burned. 

Dabbling in middle school cosmetology has given me insight into taking risks, creating options where there once seemed to be none. This lesson could serve us all well in life, but it has helped me most when fending off bad hair days. Up-dos, ponytails and even a complete withdrawal from the need for any haircare regiment at all, a period defined as my “Big Chop” phase, have lead me to where my hair and I are today; still creative and a bit eccentric, but facilitating convenience more than anything. 

Natural in New York. Me just after my “Big Chop” with my fellow creative and naturalista, Dreama Davidson, circa 2011.
Me being island regal in a photo shoot in St. Thomas, USVI. Back when water and a nap were all it took to do my hair.
Me and my dear friend Andy during my visit to Australia. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!

Quick-changing during live performances, juggling a busy schedule and most recently being a mom to 9-month-old twin boys, leave only a small pool of minutes for me to put myself together. So, achieving simple elegance at a drop of a pacifier has become imperative – With twins, phrases like “the drop of a dime “ seem wasteful; we need those dimes for college tuition. 

Here are a few helpful hints to creating your own seamless, quick and maybe a little eccentric hairstyles:

  1. Check the weather… No need to do anything elaborate for it just to be made into a frizzy, wet mess in the rain or on really humid days. My fellow Floridans should understand this best. 
    Forecast: 1000% Humidity… Embrace the frizz!
  2. Work with what you’ve got… If time is limited, there’s no better way to waste it than trying to turn curly hair straight and straight hair curly. My hair is naturally textured and very coily. When I’m in a rush, coils are all I’ve got and I find that they make for some of my best up-dos. 
    Me and the Hubby, featuring my conquering coils.
  3. Track down the five remaining bobby pins from the pack of 300 you bought a week ago. (I’m never  sure of where they all go in such a hurry, but the answer could be gnomes). Bobby pins are life-changing. Made for ingenuity, bobbies transform ponytails into evening refinement, and rainy-day ruin into slicked-back hey-how’d-you-do-that’s.
    Updo Mama and my twin boys! Just keep pinning until a little magic happens.
  4. Create until it looks great… Your first creative impulses might not be groundbreaking, or even tolerable, but keep evolving. What may seem like a mistake is often just the beginnings of genius, or at least something tolerable. 
    An updo… It doesn’t work, until it does!
  5. Beginners are very rarely experts… Take it easy on yourself. Your first experiments may never walk out of the house, much less on the runway. Attempt new styles when you’re not in such a rush, so you’ll have time to make the changes you want. 
    Just experiment… And always have at least two handsoap options as depicted in this photo. Haha!!
  6. Have you heard of a headscarf?Whether worn for religious or cultural purposes, used as embellishment or for decorative convenience, I find headscarves to be a beautiful and reliable go-to. They might not be for everyone, but don’t count them out until you’ve tried a few. They always make me feel regal and tall, even if my hair is a savage mess underneath. 
Headscarves are AWESOME! Especially when a hair-do turns into a hair-don’t and there’s little time to make a difference. 
Headscarves can even be worn on your face if you wake up with a pimple big enough to tell a short story.

From hair-art enthusiast to busy mom of twins, seeking her own sense of everyday regality, I have never lacked imagination and I don’t suppose I, or my hair, ever will. So, my advice to you- Try something, anything new. You never know, you might just be the next Haircasso, or make nice with the gnome stealing all of our bobby pins. 

Hair, or no hair, enjoy what you’ve got!

4 thoughts on “Haircasso ”

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