My Curly Hair Journey: The Road to Accepting My Natural Hair Texture

I’ve always been known for my long hair. It was the way people would describe me all throughout school when someone didn’t know who I was: the girl with the really long hair. When I was in elementary school, my hair was so curly that it took hours to wash, dry and press. Because of this, my mom would only straighten it on special occasions like Christmas. By the next day, I would have curly hair again and wouldn’t touch a hot tool until another special occasion rolled around. This was when my hair was well past my waist and I never thought twice about what my curls might look like to others. I loved my hair when I was younger. As crazy and curly as it was, I would have never believed anyone if they told me I would have to end up cutting more than half of it off one day. 

I started middle school and suddenly, it mattered what everyone thought was cute or not, and curly hair wasn’t really that. Even on Disney Channel, all the women of color would have straight hair, so I thought I needed to as well. Straightening my hair once every few weeks turned into once a week, which turned into every time I would wash it. This process continued into high school, and then college.

It’s ironic that in high school I won the senior superlative for Best Hair, yet my “best hair” was not even my authentic hair.

Suddenly, I looked in a mirror one day and didn’t even have curls anymore, I had strands that were straight and wavy from heat damage. It didn't look terrible in pictures, but trust me when I say my hair was not the same. I realized that if I continued to do the same routine of straightening my hair at 300 degrees every few days, it would only be a matter of time before my ends started to break off again. There was nothing else I could do to repair the damage but the unthinkable: cut my hair to get it an even length and have a fresh start. It was at this moment that I decided to commit to the "Curly Girl Method." This is basically an approach used to taking care of curly textured hair without the use of harsh chemicals, heat or damaging hairstyles.

One week without putting heat in my hair turned into several months, and while my curls were slowly starting to look better, I got impatient and gave in at about the three-month mark. I only made it one day with straight hair before I felt the need to get in the shower and wet my head, anxious to have my spirals back. After just three months, I didn’t feel like my true self with straight hair anymore, even if I had been wearing my hair straight for years. It has now been almost 8 months since that day, and my curls are flourishing.

I am more than just my hair and it isn’t my defining quality anymore. Today, I’d rather be known as the girl with the beautiful curly hair than the girl with the long and damaged hair. Every wash day is like a new discovery as I see my strands make curls I never realized they could before. Learning to take care of my curly hair after it was damaged by heat, chemicals and dye took patience.

A lot of it is trial and error, but if I’ve learned anything from this experience it’s to accept the frizzy days just as much as the super defined days. Hair is just hair and it's meant to be a little crazy, which is something I wish someone told me when I was younger.

Curly haired girls are walking goddesses. We can make waves with our hair just like mermaids can in the ocean and that is magical.

Images: All images provided by the author.