Thoughts on embracing curly hair; or, stop blaming me and thank the damn pea vines

But first…

This will not be a post with any great amount of biological, genetic, or hereditary investment or research. I give a quick nod to Mendel and direct you to this page if you seek a basic refresher on genes, alleles, dominant versus recessive traits, and to this page if you feel the need to play around with some Punnett Squares.

This will be a post about inheritance of traits from a fairly unscientific standpoint. Actually, it’s more a post about my children, and what they physically must endure as they go through life with the gene combinations of myself and their father. While I try not to play favorites with my three children, due to the fact that only one is still living at home, and therefore captive and easily observable, daughter Alison may hold prominence today. Also, the spark for this post came from a revelation by daughter Alison just yesterday, thus another reason she is thrust into the spotlight.

Inheritance, as in the traits one acquires through the division of chromosomes, not the monetary kind -which will be another post entirely – have been (I believe) rather straightforward in our family. I have Nordic heritage behind me from my father. Danish to be precise. As I could never truly trust much of what my mother claimed to possess in the ancestral genetic department, she probably contributed mostly Northern to Mid European genes, and very improbably, some Native American DNA. My husband is easy: German and Italian. So we are fairly hardy stock, and not widely divergent, but it’s been interesting to see what has manifested among my children as predominant traits.

As a child I was blonder than blonde with fair skin and blue eyes. In my day my mother referred to this as being a “tow head.” My hair (the natural strands that is) became a medium brown during childhood. It is thin and fine and if encouraged, has a wavy quality that can verge on curly. I am of average build, average height, and come from a line of physically strong and capable women who live well into their 90’s. I think the proportions of my facial features are adequate, except I don’t care for my nose in profile. Pictures tell me that I looked a great deal like my father when I was young. He went bald at 22 years of age. Thankfully I didn’t inherit that trait.

My husband is dark, with olive tones and darker hair (again we have to overlook the current salt and pepper). His eyes are hazel, although they had a strange ability to change, when he was younger, to an aqua hue. He has largish, rather protruding ears. His hair is thick and full, and if allowed, somewhat wavy. His height is average, but his build is stocky in general – meaning short torso, stocky thick legs, wide shoulders. He has a very wide forehead, along with a very prominent brow ridge (supraorbital ridge, thank you Wiki) – sort of verging on Neanderthal. I don’t think that I really have to say this, but…no, this is not my husband but the brow looks very familiar.

Of course I happen to be biased, but this combination of genes caused us to produce gorgeous children. The first two were born with my childhood hair color, while daughter Alison was dark from the beginning. I hope that they will all forgive me, but I think that a picture is necessary for each of them.

Today Cara, who is the oldest, has most of my traits. Same hair, same face, same body type. I look at baby pictures of her and there are many that could have easily been mistaken for me. She has my younger me cheeks, until they began to sag a bit. She has my dimples, which also have dropped to the smile crease around my mouth. We share nearly the same eyes. Scary how much we resemble each other. Secretly, I ponder over what she must think as she watches me age. It has to be like watching herself age and I wonder how she feels about that.

from Facebook
from Facebook

I think Jeff is his dad’s child. Medium brown, moderately thick and wavy hair. He is tall though, over six feet and without any of the stockiness that I would associate with his German/Italian DNA. While is face is long and slim, he has the brow line of his dad and unfortunately he got his father’s lower jaw as well, which wanted to out-distance the maxilla. I think playing the saxophone was a godsend in keeping his mouth in check. His ears are a little ‘pronounced’ as well. (You get a bonus in this picture of Jeff’s wife Meredith)

from Facebook
from Facebook

Then Alison, who I think has a lot of the same features that Jeff does, but, maybe as child #3, is a mix of both her older siblings. Darker hair, longish face like Jeff, but thankfully not the protruding brow. Nicely rounded cheeks like her sister, but less emphasis on the dimples. She is a bit taller than her sister I think, but has the stocky legs of her dad… solid I would say. What you can’t see well in this picture (because it’s been straightened almost to death) is the curliness and thickness of her hair. (Double bonus today – Miss G as well)

from Facebook
from Facebook

In fact, trying to find a picture that would show you what inspired this post was almost impossible. The closest I could come was this picture (She is in the sun glasses) taken a few years back while in the Oregon desert. It gives you a sense of some of the outward proportions that her hair can take if left untamed.

from Facebook
from Facebook

Anyway, the entire point of this journey through our family gene pool is simply this: until yesterday Alison has done everything she can to vilify the existence of her hair. Intense curls, plus thick full hair equals something close to what you see below if she doesn’t keep it in check.

Yesterday however, something in her attitude changed. She managed to produce curls without the frizz and for the first time in probably forever, left the house with smooth shoulder length, very flattering curls. I do not have a picture so you must take my word for it. I have been trying, for years, to encourage curl acceptance. I am actually quite jealous of her curls and the thickness of her hair. My waves can be manufactured into curls with the help of hair product that also imparts a distinct crispy texture, but I would quite enjoy the hair she has, only a bit shorter.

I hope that she continues to embrace her curls. I don’t know if she saw this article at Huff Post Style. Most likely not, she is a minimalist when it comes to faces and bodies and such, and checking beauty related news isn’t something she’s likely to do. Personally, I think that her curls are the best thing that our genes expressed in her DNA. Someday she’ll thank me, I’m sure.





2 thoughts on “Thoughts on embracing curly hair; or, stop blaming me and thank the damn pea vines”

    1. The hair is always curlier on the other side of the fence, isn’t it? 😉 I remember arguments with my brother, as we each began to age into our adult hair, about which one of got to claim victory in our on-going “my hair is THE WORST POSSIBLE hair to have!” arguments.

      Liked by 1 person

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