What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
"Are you stressed out?"
I was sitting in a salon back home in Jersey, getting my locks did. The question seemed to come out of nowhere.
"I mean, no more than usual," I told the stylist.
"Oh," the stylist said in her South Jersey accent, a look of concern crossing her face. "Because you're a shedder. Oh my God, are you a shedder."
She was combing out my wet curly hair in preparation for the most popular of all de-ethnicizing beauty treatments: the garden-variety blowout. And she was clearly worried.
"I guess my hair breaks a lot," I said, unnerved by her expression. "Curly hair does that, right?"
"Yeah," she said. "But yours isn't breaking. You're shedding. People shed naturally, some more than others. But I've never seen a shedder like you."
I have never felt more like an actual dog.
"Don't worry," she said, apparently realizing that I was a bit uncomfortable. "As long as it doesn't come out in clumps, you're fine."
Well, it doesn't come out in clumps. But it does come out. As long as I can remember, I've been picking long, curly hairs off sweaters, coats, blankets, and especially shower floors. When I comb my hair, I do it over a sink so that I can easily collect the giant fuzzball that assembles by the time I'm done.
"You're going to want to go over these pillows and make sure my hair isn't on them," I once said quite matter-of-factly to an adult sleepover buddy. "I'm sorry in advance. It's just what happens with my hair."
Two months after I broke up with a college boyfriend, he found one of my hairs in his sleeping bag on a mountain vacation. He told me he shook his fist at the sky and shouted, "When will it ever end?" (He may have been exaggerating.)
It happens when my hair is shorter (as it is now, in the above photograph). It happens when my hair is longer (as when I dated Mister Mountain Man). It happens all the freaking time, and I have no idea why.
Even before my fine (but abundant) curly hair was color-treated, I was a shedder. Even before I took a bucket of daily medication for depression and anxiety, I was a shedder. Even before I moved to California (where, a new stylist recently assured me, "the water is just different"), I was a shedder.
I have developed the following theories about why I'm constantly dropping follicular remnants all over the place:
1.My body is a wonderland. New hair is just so stoked to grow out of my head that it pushes old hair out of the way. It's a Darwinian struggle for the ultimate prize: the right to be gathered into a scrunchie and displayed atop my head.
2.I require regular deep-conditioning treatments. These would make my hair softer and more manageable and more luxuriant and less prone to leap out of their rightful homeland every time I stand within sixteen feet of a brush.
3.I am actually a goat. I am inordinately, extraordinarily, strangely fond of goats. Perhaps they are my kin!
4.God just doesn't want me to become a serial killer on TV. I have learned by watching "Law & Order," as well as the new and delightful television program "Hannibal," that killers on TV shows are often found because they leave hairs or other bits of DNA lying about. Clearly this is not to be my path in life.
I have shed all over my homes in New Jersey, Boston, North Carolina, the fine Southwestern United States, and now sunny Los Angeles. I fear that I gross people out, especially those forced to live with me or clean up after me. It comes to this: I need a solution!
That is where you come in, dearest reader. What is the deal with my tresses? Am I supposed to take some sort of vitamin supplement? Should I bathe my locks in organic grapeseed oil for forty-five minutes once every other full moon?
Will there come a day when the hair just keeps falling out and doesn't grow back in? Should I invest in wig futures? Should I buy stock in weaves? What about extensions? Am I freaking out for no reason? Is God real? Why isn't Julieanne on Vine? These are the most important questions of our day, and they must be answered by you, because you are a pack of genius people. I thank you.