*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
On my second date with my ex-boyfriend, he took me home and straightened my naturally curly hair with his mother's straightening iron. It looked awful.
"See? That's much better. You should wear your hair like this all the time," he said.
So I did. I rushed out and bought a cheap straightening iron. When it didn't work on damp hair, I rushed back out and bought a more expensive one with vents that allowed the moisture from my freshly washed hair to turn into hot scalding steam as I straightened it.
My boyfriend was right. That was much better. Now, I got to get up an hour earlier every day to straighten a mountain of curls after washing them and then rush to get to work on time.
We worked together. In fact, that's how we met. Working together five days a week and seeing each other on our days off meant I got to straighten my hair seven days a week. I hated it; he never even mentioned it after our second date.
I always thought he must be pleased with the change I'd made just for him. Surely he understood the sacrifice I made when I showed up every day wearing my curly hair straight. Right?
A full year and a half after I began straightening my hair, I finally mentioned it to my boyfriend.
"Oh," he replied. "I didn't know you straightened your hair."
That's right. I had been straightening my hair for eighteen months to please him, and he hadn't even noticed.
When I pressed him about it, he said he didn't even remember straightening my hair with his mother's straightening iron on our second date or telling me I should wear my hair straightened all the time. He just... forgot all about it.
I'd spend roughly 550 hours of my life ironing my hair into I style I hated just to please him, and he didn't even care.
Straightening my hair himself completely escaped his memory. He told me he just thought I had naturally straight hair.
"What are you talking about?" I demanded. "You're the one who told me to straighten it."
He just shrugged his shoulders.
I wasn't pleased. I immediately resumed wearing my hair the way nature intended: curly or in waves depending on the weather. The higher the humidity, the curlier the curls. At no time is my hair ever "naturally" straight.
I threw away my curling iron, both of them in fact. I even tossed out my hair dryer. I prefer to let my hair air dry into whatever shape it decides to take. From now on, I'm wearing my hair just for me.
We didn't break up until seven years later. So that was eighteen months of straight hair followed by seven months of curls for a total of eight-plus years.
At no time did I ever presume to tell him how to wear his hair.
What do you think? Comments are welcome.