Me, myself and my hair

Feb. 14, 2002, midnight | By Neela Pal | 18 years, 11 months ago

Blair Blazers say bye-bye to basic bowl-cuts and bobs and hello to intricate hair design

Junior Rodrigo Guevera has a busy lunch planned. In the 45-minute period, he has to complete not his math homework, not his English essay, but worse—a full head of braids.

No stranger to the task of taming his wild mane, Guevera spots his friend and occasional hairdresser, senior Wendy Garcia, on Blair Boulevard. There, Garcia expertly uses a tub of beeswax and a comb—although she has settled for pens and pencils in the past—to braid Guevera's long black locks.

Fifteen minutes later, Guevera emerges from underneath Garcia's skilled hands with the look he loves. "Every time you get your hair freshly done, you feel good, neat; you know you look good," he says touching the braids on his head almost reverently.

Garcia and Guevera are no anomalies on Blair Boulevard, which on any given day abounds with capable student hairdressers and their subjects. They, like many other Blazers, dedicate time, energy and money towards their hair in efforts of self-expression and style.

Pain is beauty

For senior Zack Palmer, passion for hair began in the eighth grade, when he started to grow out his hair. "As time passed, I had a little mini bush, a half-fro," he says. Palmer soon realized that he had found his ideal look. "I started growing [my hair], and girls started liking it. The long-haired thing is in," he says.

Long past the half-fro stage now, Palmer regularly dedicates almost a full day every three weeks to his hair maintenance. Every routine visit to Delta Hair Lines means a new style, $60 out of his pocket and six hours of his time.
Palmer is used to the tedious routine and combats boredom by watching movies, listening to gossip and doing his homework. He has even made some new friends through his countless visits to the salon. "They have all my money," Palmer says half-jokingly. "They better be nice to me."

Salvadoran senior Jesse Rivas is another connoisseur on unique hair styling. Typically sporting plaits, cornrows or a mix of the two, Rivas has over time formed a network of hairdressers for his hair, and he currently turns to about six different friends for hair braiding.

For his hair, Rivas demands nothing less than perfection. His high standards entail using "the best conditioner" from Sally's Beauty Supply and trimming his tips monthly. Rivas feels his hair care is well justified. "I've always had the belief that I have better hair than everybody—better than most girls. So I feel like I should take care of it," he explains.

Like both Palmer and Rivas, senior Joe Ray has also discovered the power of individuality through his braids. "I wanted to be different," he says simply. "I get a lot of attention because I'm white with braids."

But Ray's strict bi-weekly braiding schedule sometimes means making sacrifices, as his hair styling is at the mercy of the school bell schedule. His last braiding session left him with only four cornrows down the middle of his head and two pigtails on either side—all his friend had time to braid during one lunch period. Although this was not the unique hair design he had in mind, Ray was forced to wait out the rest of the day in hairstyle limbo.

"Your hair is your glory"

Senior Della Cox is accustomed to the sacrifices that need to be made for the sake of hair, but she speaks from a different perspective. Cox is a hairdresser. Known by many in Blair for her natural knack with hair, Cox has found her talent to be in great demand. "When I was young I used to get my hair cornrowed every week. When I moved here [from the Caribbean] I had to learn to do hair on my own," Cox explains. "When people asked me to do their hair I did it, and I realized I loved it."

Cox interns at Reflective Results, a hair salon on Colesville Road in Silver Spring that currently showcases a mannequin adorned with one of her unique hairstyles in its display window. Cox aspires to build a reliable line of people who want her hairstyles and are willing to pay for them at the salon. Until that time comes, she has her hands full—literally—with the hair of Blair students. "I have enough people calling my house asking, ‘Della when can you do my hair?'" she exclaims.

But Cox does not mind the work; the hours she spends in hair braiding are precious hours of reflection for her. "When I'm doing hair my mind is clear, and I can think about things," she explains. "I don't know what I want to do so I just do one cornrow and let my hands flow from there. It's like I'm decorating a person's head. It's fun."

Senior Gabrielle Rene, who has had dreadlocks for over a year now, also recognizes the peace and immense satisfaction that can be found through one's hair. "What you do with your hair is another expression of yourself. Your hair is your glory," she says passionately.

After wishing for dreadlocks for many years, Rene decided to dedicate her hair to them, explaining the move as a reflection of her own inner growth. "My hair is a reminder to myself of what kind of a person I am," she says. "It represents a solid me."

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Neela Pal. Neela Pal spent a year in journalism her sophomore year, under the assumption that she would be saying goodbye to her dream of being on the newspaper at Blair. Despite these worries, she was pleasantly surprised at being accepted as a page editor. An avid … More »

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