Project: Heidi Braids

Not many people who met me after about age 12 know this, but I once had long hair.  Like really really long.  Hair that hadn’t seen scissors until I got 10 inches chopped off in 5th grade and no one noticed.  This was hair that was a pain to wash and dry, hair that I hated to have played with by my mom, but would let my friends use to play May Pole with.   My mother loved to French braid it, but I always thought I looked like a jerk, and my dad wanted me to wear Heidi braids, but that only happened once.  I think I was in 4th grade, and I had such a headache by the end of the day that I vowed I’d never wear them again.

After a particularly bad snarl sometime around the spring of 6th grade, I had my older sister give me a chin-length bob; we had to cut my hair standing in the lawn in the back yard because it would have gone everywhere.  The next year I got a pixie crop which confused a substitute teacher enough to ask “who’s that fella sitting in Ginger’s seat” in my 7th grade math class.  I was known as Fella to the obnoxious boys in that class until high school, and occasionally after.

circa 2006

Throughout high school and college and grad school, my hair was always kept cropped – either Manic Pixie Dream Girl short or somewhere above my shoulders.  In middle school and high school, my friends and I would have henna parties, which made us smell like cows for a few days, and impart a little parent-friendly color.  In college, I played with dying my natural dirty blonde/mousy brown hair platinum, then my signature auburn (seasonally varying a few shades), which I’ve had for about 10 years.  I often toyed with the idea of buzzing it off, but I have an enormous head and it probably wouldn’t be flattering.

May 2009

The week before I met my fiancé in 2007, I went on a crazy solo vacation to Portland, had a fling with a stranger, caught up with old friends and long lost cousins, read the 7th Harry Potter book, and chopped off my hair for the last time.  When I met Matt, I had a dark chestnut Mia Farrow-esque ‘do, and I haven’t really cut my hair again since.   Mostly out of laziness, but also out of curiosity.   And wow does it grow.  I average about 8 inches of growth per year, as opposed to the normal 6″.

It’s been strange to me, as I’ve let go of the control I had over my hair, to see that its true nature is coming out: it’s thick and coarse and heavy, with large, irregular waves that turn into spiral curls when it rains.  It’s still naturally nondescriptly blondish brown, but I’ve embraced the color I should have been born with and rock the bottled red without shame.  Over the past couple of months, I’ve rediscovered playing with my hair – braids! ponytails! buns! twists! – mostly out of necessity.  I’m a wash n’ wear girl 99% of the time, so I had to do something with my mop of wet waves to keep it from dampening my shirts everyday.

August 2010

I got interested in Heidi braids again after seeing them pop up all ove the fashion blogs I read, and especially when Orchid Grey posted her tutorial.  I wore them a couple of times when we were in Vancouver BC for my birthday weekend in September, but didn’t have the right hair pins.  Bobby pins are useless on my 15 lb mane, and so are most other pins.  My hair is also not quite long enough and suffering from grown out layers to be totally effective.

Still, I kept my eyes open for anything I could find to help, and I think I’ve finally discovered the trifecta of Heidi braid perfection:

Scünci Magic Grip Hair Pins for Up-dos

3-pronged bendy barrettes


Clear polybands - size large

These are the only basic hair accessories that have worked with my hair so well.  It’s been 8 hours, and it’s still perfect.  It’s also still damp from my shower, but my hair dries SSSSSSLLLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWWLLLLYYYYY.

Here it is, in all its Viking Princess glory!

My hair is still heavy, and it still gives me a little headache (more of a neck ache today!) but it’s a part of me, and I’m finally starting to let it be.



One response to this post.

  1. […] or a simple braid.  I’m impressed that I finally taught myself to braid my own hair.  Those heidi braids I do occasionally are as fancy as I get on a daily basis.  I want to do something special and […]


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