The scary harm in that is the lesson we're teaching our daughters (and son, actually). A friend recently shared her daughter wondered why her super tight curly hair was different from her own, which is worn straight though just as curly. Having to explain that to a 5 or even 12 year old is tricky. What are we teaching our daughters about our natural beauty? What message are we sending by not setting an example of self-worth in our uniqueness? If we consider the issues a young girl innately faces, especially in school, where they inevitably start asking about all the varying looking girls, we have to plant seeds of confidence and acceptance.
My Sister, Karen
My hair has been a source of disappointment and delight for as long as I could remember. My hair has gone through every possible stage. It's been long and short. I've been with and without bangs. It's been dyed red, brown, blond and blue black. I've had highlights - auburn and gold. It's been wavy, curly, crimped and ironed straight. I didn't always love my curls and I wished for straight hair. Now I'm ready to embrace my hair and I love the stage it's in now: natural and curly. I love when it's styled and I love when it's wild. My hair suits me and my personality.
Marty DarbyI truly feel like it's okay to be myself. Embracing my curls means embracing an integral part of myself. Loving my curls is loving myself. Here's my story.
Being a mom changes the way you see things, and it made me reexamine my relationship with my curls. Last year I realized how my own habit of straightening my hair for special occasions such as weddings or TV appearances (to look more "professional") affected the way my daughter perceived her natural curls and waves. I wasn’t the only one and a national morning TV featured us with my little girl. I stopped straightening my hair and my showing my daughter that I love my curls, I hope to inspire her to love her own hair. Jeannette talks about her feelings in this post.
I now embrace my curls even more than before so I can show my daughter that curly hair is beautiful. I want her to grow up loving her curls despite what our culture and society depicts.
Even though I still feel self-conscious about my curls look, I've never felt more unique than now. And I realized that is not what the people say it´s how I feel what matters and, oh, surprise! If I wear my hair confidently, people actually admire me.
Like most women with naturally curly hair, as a young girl I wanted the fine, straight locks of my friends. The flipped layers, the straight bangs, the easy-to-manage, brushable hair. As I grew older and hair products, treatments and stylists grew more sophisticated, I got a grip on my curls, though I will not lie - we are in a constant evolution together.
Accepting and loving your curls means you are OK with not being perfect. Or, what I call "glossy." You can never guarantee a good hair day. You cannot convince your hair to behave because you’ve got a big meeting or important job interview. Curly hair is wild, it is unpredictable and it also disappoints at inopportune times.
But it also provides wonderful surprises. An extra-bouncy curl here, an adorable twist there. The sincere compliments I receive outweigh the negative comments or “suggestions” that I should join the straighteners' brigade. The last time I checked, it was my head and my life and I don’t choose to spend hours forcing my hair to do what is against its very nature. This is how God (and my unique genetic composition) created me and I embrace it in all it's unpredictable, untamed glory.
Curly hair products were not available when I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s in Miami, so I struggled embracing what I naturally had. But once I learned how to manage my hair with a great diffuser and products, the love/hate relationship stopped. I embrace my curls and love them every single day!
A rare day I wore my hair down and loose, I always wear it in a braid, a bun or ponytail slicked back. Growing up I hated my curls, the other girls had lovely long straight hair & I was jealous.
Vianessa Syed Castaños
I've straightened it a lot for auditions to fit the description of the stereotypical, narrow view of what latinas look like on TV. But I've moved away from that and wear my hair curly almost all the time time now because I prefer it that way and I'll make them prefer it too
My curly hair is part of my identity that I haven't always appreciated. When I was a kid, it made me stand out when I wanted to blend in. As a young adult, my curls became a chore when I wanted to be on trend. But now, as the mother of a biracial daughter, I value the curls that connect us and see them as a tool in my parenting. I hope that my girls grows up to know that blending in, or being on trend, should never overpower who you really are. Curls and all.
Read about my journey with my natural hair here and here. And here. This is something I've been discussing with my girlfriends and sister over the years and more recently in the last 2 years because of the dramatic changes I've gone through with my hair. But, I've also struggled with my curls on varying levels. My goal is to invite a conversation I feel we need to have more openly and more confidently. I love my hair. I've said plenty on this blog, but I have stopped to wonder why I straighten it, moreso now that it's super short. But more on that in this series.
Next: A Look at the African-American Curl Stigma
Next: A Look at the African-American Curl Stigma