Let’s start with a poem, shall we?
There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~
If you are a curly girl (or guy) then chances are at some point, you’ve heard this children’s rhyme. My mother used to read it to me and I always assumed it was because I had an unruly nest of naturally curly hair. Later, because I was always getting into things, I suspected she may have been aiming that last line at me.
Let me tell you, growing up with curly hair in a straight-haired world wasn’t easy. And it was even worse being a curly kid during the Farah Fawcett craze in the late 1970s. Junior high and high school were just as challenging. At one point, while my friends were sporting their fashionable 80′s hairdos, my hair was just a mess.
The college years weren’t any better. By my freshman year, I’d had enough and I went short. Like boy short. Senior year brought a change of heart and I let it grow and grow until I got married and, later, pregnant with my first child.
Then I went for a bobbed look or as one of my co-workers called it “helmet” hair. Don’t judge him too harshly, he didn’t hurt my feelings!
I’ve had an uneasy truce with my curly hair for the last twenty-three years or so. I finally stopped trying to control it but I never really have embraced it. I dutifully had it cut every 8 – 10 weeks, styled it and blew it dry. I never actually tried to straighten it – that is way too much work and I’ve never liked the “straight” haired me.
My curls and I cruised along looking basically the same for ages and ages. I’d follow a familiar pattern: attempt to let my hair grow out and be curly. Months would go by and it would get heavy and look like a frizzy mess. Giving in, I’d go for a haircut and hate the outcome – always too short and all my ringlets would disappear. I’d vow never to have it cut again. Alas, time would pass and I ‘d cave. Get a cut. Loathing begins again.
Curly Girl: The Handbook. It was 85% off and it had enhanced content – video demonstrations! I got a sample and was hooked. The authors understood my struggle and the best part - essays from other ladies (and some men) who’d dealt with the same curly hair trauma. And there was even someone who’d had the same Farah hair tragedy (only her’s was Dorothy Hamill).
Right then and there, I was a convert. I would become a true curly girl and embrace my hair. I threw out all my current hair products, stopped using harsh shampoos and conditioners. Blow drying is out and towel drying is in (I use a cotton t-shirt and squeeze-crunch it dry). Guess what? No more frizz either!
It’s been close to two months now and I love it. At first it was an adjustment, especially breaking the habit of running my hand through my hair, but so far I’ve managed. And no more hair cuts that are meant for straight-haired folks.
So finally after 40 plus years, I’ve embraced my curls. Finally.