Dear Curly Girl,
Where do I even start?
I, too, was made fun of because of my hair. I was called all the not-so-nice nicknames, and know that it sucks being ridiculed about something over which you have no control. It stinks and it’s frustrating because no matter how you try – they are what they are: curls. They can be unruly, wild, frizz-filled strands with what seems like minds of their own. (Often going in opposing directions!)
Being mocked at the bus stop daily isn’t a great way to endure middle school. High school was a rotation of baseball caps, hair ties and my good friend the banana clip. Like yours, my tresses have been coiled, straightened, blow-fried, brushed, braided, juice-can rolled, flat ironed, chemically ‘relaxed’, and dyed. I’ve cried after leaving the salon, too. (When the only person that thinks your hair is beautiful is your 65 year old hair dresser, it’s not a good sign.)
To be fair, growing up in the 80s/early 90’s puts a person at a disadvantage from the start. I mean, really!? Hammer pants? Yes, I did in fact have a pair. (Okay, I had 4, but who’s counting?!)
And let’s not forget our friend, the mullet. Oy. (Yes, I basically had one of those, too.)
It doesn’t help that the majority of media and advertising messages push the idea that attractive/sexy = sleek and straight. Between the people you know thinking you are a freak and the message of the media – what’s a curly girl to do?
Until my mid 20’s, I fought my curls every step of the way and even made the fatal mistake of asking a boyfriend, “What one thing would you change about me, if you could?” He, without hesitating, said, “Your hair.”
(Yes, it was dumb of me to ask.)
I straightened my hair for one of the first dates I had with my husband. He looked at it and said, “It’s not you. It looks fine, but it’s just not you.”
He was one of the first people to not suggest or encourage me to straighten my hair. (I knew then that he was a keeper!) It may sound silly to think about hair as such an issue, but you and I both know how deep this curly thing goes. You and I (and most other curly girls) have many stories of how this mane has shaped and defined us. In one way or another, we’ve had to come to terms with who we are as curlies. Do we go with the flow or continue to change into something we are not?
It is a big deal.
It gets better, Curly Girl. Product, knowledge, and a good stylist are priceless!
When you have curly daughters, teach them to love their hair and work with it, not against it. They are going to get enough of the opposite message as it is. Find good product. Throw away those brushes. Embrace your hair and embrace who you are, and teach her to do the same.