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A Curly Girl’s Tale: How I Grew to Love My Hair
Things were all kittens and ice cream until I turned 12. To quote my sixth grade diary, 12 was “a year of devastating change.”
The first event occurred that fall, when my best friend, who happened to be my next door neighbor and partner in crime since I was four, moved away to a mysterious place called “The Valley.”
The second event struck that winter, when the unthinkable happened: puberty. I’ll never forget the traumatic trip with Mom to J.C. Penney to buy my first bra.
Then, that summer, puberty took away my sleek, straight hair and replaced it with a big, frizzy mess.
And so began my rocky relationship with curly hair…
I guess technically my hair is more wavy than curly, but back then all I saw was a head of hair that on its best days resembled a lion’s mane.
As luck would have it, that look was in at the time. It was the ’80s, when curls and the spiral perm reigned supreme. Curly girls roamed the hallways at school. They moved in dense packs of frizzy hair, acid-washed denim jackets and Liz Claiborne purses.
It was just sheer dumb luck that my naturally curly hair happened to be “in” because I was shy and self-conscious at the time. Fitting in mattered above all else.
Truth be told, I had no idea how to handle my unruly waves. This was well before I discovered wide-tooth combs and conditioner washing, yet my hair and I eventually reached a sort of detente that would last for several years. I hadn’t grown to love it yet, but I didn’t hate it anymore either. Nope, I saved that for the ’90s.
By the time I’d gone to college, straight hair was all the rage again. I was back to hating my waves and envying the girls with their lovely linear locks.
The several bad haircuts that followed didn’t help. There was the poufy triangle cut that left me looking like a Bichon Frise, or the cut in which the left side of my hair was a full inch shorter than the right, or the razor-cut from hell (a frizzy nightmare!).
During those dark years, I spent hours in bathrooms with blow dryers and brushes, hopping from one straightening serum to the next to fry my hair into stick-straight submission.
It wasn’t until my late 20s that I started to feel different about my hair. I can’t pinpoint exactly when or why it happened, but I think it had to do with where I was in my life. I’d finally begun to understand who I was, and eventually, I think that started to translate into how I felt about my hair.
As my curly confidence grew, so did my bag of hair tricks. Before long, I was asking curly-haired friends for product recommendations and making appointments to different salons. Soon I’d learned about dry shampoo, conditioner washing and diffusers (oh, my!). Like a hair jedi, I started working WITH my hair’s nature, and not against it.
Sure, I still bust out the flat iron from time to time, but now I love my curls. I love how they look different from one day to the next, and how when I go out with the girls, I have the distinction of being “the chick with the curly hair.”
It took decades for me and my hair to get here, but I’m so glad we did.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,