After hating my curly hair all my life, I finally reached a point where I actually began loving it. And while it’s not always easy to begin accepting parts of ourselves that we’ve always disliked, it’s one of the most liberating things we can ever experience.
As many of you know, I’ve been on a “curly hair journey” for about 7 months now. Why am I writing an entire blog post dedicated to this? Because all my life I have loathed my natural locks.
For as long as I can remember my curly hair has been the bane of my existence. I grew up with more hatred for my curls than literally anything else, ever. I envied all the girls at school who had soft waves or a silky straight mane. I wanted so badly for my curls to go away and I spent much of my childhood and early adolescence feeling ugly because of it. I couldn’t tell you how or why I grew to feel this way, but to me straight hair was beautiful and curly hair was absolutely not.
I remember standing in my mom’s small bathroom braiding my wet hair in hopes that it would lessen the frizz and make it less “puffy”. I revelled in the few times a hairdresser would blow dry my hair straight, swaying my head to-and-fro afterwards in great amusement at my silky smooth hair.
At the age of 12 I discovered that a towel, my bathroom counter, and an iron (the kind for clothes) worked quite well for straightening out my curls. I started 8th grade as a whole new girl: I for once felt pretty and it seemed like all those years of frizzy, horrible (and I mean horrible) hairstyles were behind me.
Then finally to my rescue, at the age of 13 or so I was introduced to what felt like the absolute best tool that was ever invented: the flat iron. Oh how this changed my life. From this moment on I flat ironed my hair religiously and couldn’t believe I spent all of my 13 years of life without it. I then went on to live my teenage and young adult days happily ever after with pin-straight hair. The end.
But not actually.
My straightened hair became my beauty and self-worth crutch. Without it, I felt ugly and unkempt. The deep-seated belief that straight hair made me beautiful and curly hair did not was tightly woven through every ounce of my being. God forbid it was humid outside because that meant my entire life was over. If my frizzy curls were to show through after all my efforts eliminating them, it would completely ruin whatever it was I was doing that day.
How sad is that, to live my life entirely dictated by the state of my hair strands?
I went through a short period of time in my early twenties, back when I was in my most hippie of phases, where I decided to let my hair be curly. I wanted to embrace it. I wanted to love it. And I kinda did for a few weeks but ultimately decided I liked straight hair way better. It seemed that no matter what I did with my curly hair it was doomed to be a feature about myself that I would never like. So I reverted back to straightening it regularly up until, well, literally this year. 2019. At age 28.
Back in January I shared a photo on Instagram displaying me and my curly hair and my triumphant decision to try and begin embracing it more often. I didn’t touch any heat styling tools for a couple months after that, and haven’t as much overall since then.
I don’t know exactly what prompted this very abrupt decision to stop straightening my hair, but I think it was a combination of noticing an absurd amount of hair breakage and feeling so fed up with this uncontrollable requirement within myself to have perfect-looking hair. I started to feel like there was a part of myself that I was suppressing for no other reason than I’d conditioned myself to believe I was unattractive because of it. But the reality is that I have curly hair. This is part of who I am and I no longer want to keep walking around with hair that isn’t even mine. As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve just wanted to be myself and learn to love what makes me… me.
The biggest part of my curly hair journey was discovering The Curly Girl Method. This is a method of embracing, styling, and caring for curly hair by avoiding certain drying agents in products like sulfates and silicones and eliminating high-heat tools, among a few other things.
While I don’t follow this method exclusively anymore (although I did for several weeks), I learned a lot about my hair because of it. Such as holy crap, not using sulfates really does eliminate frizz! I now know how to create silky, defined ringlets and at the very least, I’ve learned what works for my hair and what doesn’t, something I never knew even the slightest about.
I should also point out here that behind-the-scenes (meaning, I never shared this on social media) I went through a bizarre, highly anxiety-inducing identity crisis after I decided to stop straightening my hair for a couple months. It was super unexpected and a little ridiculous, but because I was so used to my smooth, flat-ironed waves, I had to get used to not only a completely different style of hair, but a part of me that I’d hated for my entire life. On top of that, I was shedding what I identified myself with for so long: soft, straightened hair (that I loved, might I add). Without trying to sound too dramatic, it was almost like a grieving process.
To be honest, I continued to really dislike my curls for the first little while. I couldn’t help but wonder, will I ever really like my curly hair more than I like it straight? All my previous insecurities I felt growing up came flooding back in. But I forced myself to get used to my curls and figure out how to make it work.
And now, 7 months in, I can genuinely say that I really like my curly hair (shocking!) and the uniqueness that it brings. I’ve for once in my life found the beauty in my texture of hair so often rejected by society’s standards and those who possess it; those of us who have been made to believe there’s something wrong with it. I no longer want to sear my curls with 400 degree ceramic plates every day and instead, caring for them and watching them bounce to life when I get out of the shower is fun for me.
While I have straightened my curls here and there and will from time to time (no rules!), I’ve become accustomed to the way my natural hair looks and I’ve found styling techniques that work really well for me (probably the most helpful part of my journey considering I never even knew there was an option besides Birds Nest status). If you’re curious, I filmed a whole video on how I style my curly hair, although I’m continually learning!
So what has my curly hair taught me? It’s taught me not only about the importance of accepting myself, but letting go of perfectionism, something I’ve made a mission to work on in many areas of my life (not an easy feat). Curls are unpredictable by nature and my flat iron gave me all the power, but I’ve had to learn to embrace the inherent messiness that it is. And that’s what I’ve come to like about it: it’s just hair doing what hair does best. Being hair. Who cares?
Embracing my curly hair has taught me so much about seeing the beauty in what we already have. You see, while my curly hair can still be frustrating at times, when I think about it, my straightened hair had its own set of bothers. It was either too flat, too greasy, too thin, or I had too many flyaways (breakage)! We’re so quick to be unsatisfied by everything in our lives. We either want what someone else has or we want what we can’t have and my curly hair has reminded me that there’s no point in chasing after the perfect “thing”, because it doesn’t exist.
It’s liberating to start to love certain parts of ourselves that we’ve previously always disliked. It’s not easy — I mean, I had an identity crisis for crying out loud — but the point is that changing our perception of anything can be hard. I’ve learned though that the more we do something the more we adapt and the easier it all becomes. We may even start to like it. Even something as trivial as wearing our hair curly.
Tell me: what’s something you’ve always struggled with or want to start loving about yourself? I encourage you to dig deep and take a look at what’s been shaping the beliefs you may harbour about yourself.