Isabella and Alicia are twin sisters currently living in New York City (by way of Toronto, Canada). Alicia is the COO of NewHive, a "a multimedia cultural hub for millions with the freshest and most creative work on the web," while Isabella is a fashion writer and stylist, as well as a communications associate at Misha Nonoo. Earlier this year, these lovely ladies shared some deeply personal stories about their hair and got real about the ways in which their hair has affected their identities.
As Alicia told me, "I love my hair," while Isabella asserted, "I have a complicated relationship with my hair."
Read their stories below:
ON HAIR AND IDENTITY
Isabella: It was funny -- when we were growing up, Alicia always had jet straight hair, and I always had very curly hair. My mom used to get stopped on the streets and people would say, "What a terrible mother you are, that you curl one daughter's hair and not the other." When my mother would try to curl Alicia's hair, it looked absolutely terrible -- like baby Mozart.
Alicia: I love my hair, because I now realize that it's all about confidence. Hair was not something I cared about or ever thought about, and I would always give Isabella shit for caring so much. I never had to fuss, it was so natural and easy. So much of it was that I fit a standard of beauty, having long straight hair, and now I actively try different hairstyles, I like looking differently.
I: She was always the twin with straight hair, I was always the twin with curly hair.
A: It was a means of defining us, distinguishing us from each other.
ALICIA, ON WAKING UP WITH HER HEAD SHAVED
A: All throughout my life, I had the most beautiful waist-length blonde hair. Mermaid hair. I never brushed it, I never did anything to it. It just always looked amazing. And I was very cocky about that. Then, about three years ago, I was hit by a car and had brain surgery and they shaved my head. Two weeks before, someone asked me, "Hey Alicia! What's your favorite feature about yourself?" I said, "My hair, far and away is my favorite feature of myself."
I woke up from surgery with a shaved head and staples. I have a massive scar. And it wasn't fully shaved. It was like a Skrillex-type cut, but extra Skrillex -- too much was shaved. I was really miserable. Up until that point, I had been so low maintenance that I thought, Whatever, this won't matter. But I had just graduated college and gotten a job in finance. So now I had a reverse Skrillex with stapes in my head and I had to go to work, and I was trying to figure out what to do. Do I shave it all off? Do I wear a wig?
I decided not to wear a wig or shave off the rest of it, because my hair dresser, Greg Ruggeri, who I trust implicitly, said I would look like a tennis ball, because I had this huge scar. I wore it long and up in a ponytail -- from the front it looked like I just had my hair up, but if you looked closer you realized I had a buzzcut and long hair.
I: She was holding onto that piece of hair for dear life.
A: Then I had to decide what I was going to do. I had to cut it short -- there was really no option. So Greg, who is a fucking genius -- I call him my spiritual guide -- cut my hair into a bleach blonde pixie cut. Of course, I had sent my parents pictures of what I looked like, but for Christmas, we went on vacation and I showed up at the airport and my parents didn't recognize me. My dad looked at me like I was a stranger. He smiled at me, and then he was like, "Holy shit!" It was unbelievable. It was a real punk rock look -- I looked a bit like Sid Vicious.
I: It was like Sid Vicious/Annie Lennox.
A: I loved it. It looked really great, but it meant I had to change my makeup. I had to dress more femininely. Basically, I went from having never changed my hair my entire life to having had every haircut from Billy Idol to Madeline.
On top of all that, my hair became a huge topic of conversation at my workplace. I work at an investment bank, where everyday you're representing yourself to mostly men in a business context. And I realized people treated me differently when I had short hair versus long hair, and I didn't feel as attractive with the short hair at first, because it wasn't something I chose.
ISABELLA, ON LOVING AND LOSING HER NATURAL CURLS
I: I wash my hair once a week. I can go up to 10 days. It's fantastic. It's super dry, but it's super curly -- the most beautiful curls, and I've always had them. When I was in the seventh grade, I discovered the hair straightener and I think I straightened it almost every day.
A: The longest fight we've ever had -- and we're twins, and we're 25 -- is me bothering her about keeping her hair curly, because she really does have the most gorgeous curly hair ever.
I: But, it is no longer, because about four or five years ago, I was like, "I want bangs!" When Taylor Swift was having her bang moment, I wanted to be there with her. Whoever at Vogue did that cover shoot with her did an amazing job on her hair and I was like, I want to look just like that. I went to Greg, and I was just like, "Greg, give me bangs." He was like, "Are you sure? This is a horrible idea, do not do these bangs." Essentially what happened was I chemically straightened my hair and as opposed to taking out the frizz and making it perfectly curly, it literally stripped my hair of the curl and changed my hair texture. It was a nightmare.
Then, six months ago I was finishing my thesis and half my hair fell out from stress. Luckily my hair is curly and when I wear it curly, it looks really thick. But having curly hair, you always have to fuss with it. You become a chemical scientist to find the perfect formula so it looks curly, but lasts. If you're only washing your hair once a week, you need to get creative with the hot tools. I have like, seven curling irons and straighteners and wands and hair dryers. I've tried every product under the sun. There is not a product I won't know about.
ALICIA, ON HER CHANGING PERCEPTION OF HAIR AND BEAUTY
A: I was so unaware of how much of an assumption my easy-going, carefree beauty look was, and when I had to start exerting effort -- because having short hair takes a lot of maintenance. I had to go to the salon all the time, I had to spend a lot of money on getting my hair done, I had to wet it and put product in it in the morning because I'd wake up looking like a chicken. That's just the way it shakes out.
I would say that my hair was always a way of defining myself as easy going, and as soon as my accident happened, I started realizing that all the assumptions I'd made about Isabella being high maintenance were really just my own ignorance for how it can be difficult to have hair that isn't just perfectly straight. It does affect your confidence. When I had short hair, I remember I would go out and felt so ugly. I thought, No one's going to look at me. I wasn't comfortable with it. But looking back at the photos, I'm like, Oh my god, I look amazing. Even my dad -- he's very traditional and into a traditional beauty look that's very feminine -- when he saw my short hair, he said, "This is my favorite haircut you've ever had. You look like David Bowie."
I: It suited your personality. Yeah, you looked like David Bowie. It was so badass.
ISABELLA, ON TRYING NEW THINGS
I: I've always been creative. When they came out with those hair chalks, I tried those. I've had bangs, I've had brown, I've had red. It was cool. It turned copper, loved it. But she didn't dye it the right shade of red, so I was not too happy with it initially. I wanted a carrot-y orange and she dyed it brown-red. It was so dark. I'll try anything, but ultimately I've realized, it's just best to be natural and go with your natural hair, despite the fact that I'm not doing that right now.
ON GOOD HAIR
A: I think it's any hair that makes you feel comfortable. Any hair that sees you through the day. Even no hair. If you want to be bald, which I kind of was, or if you want to wear wigs, and that's what you feel good hair is to you, wear a wig!
I: Healthy. But no. You know what? Anything goes. I just think experimentation is the most important. There's so many things you can do with hair now and there are so many talented people doing things and you're constantly looking at photos on Instagram and Snapchat and all the social media platforms. They're constantly changing and inventing new things, whether it's rainbow hair or putting glitter in your part. The history of hair is the most fascinating thing of all. I don't think there is a definition for good hair.
-- As told to Untangled in New York City. Photos by Julia Brucculieri.