Living Between Curls

Have you ever ironed your hair?

Doesn't it suffocate you?

I've always wanted to have hair like you.

Doesn’t it get too tangled up?

When you live between curls, these are just some of the many questions and comments that people make on the daily. Sometimes, they even go so far as to touch my curls or buns because they’re "curious”.

You see, my curls have always been part of who I am. They define where I come from and mark the roots of my ancestors. My relationship with my hair is very healthy at the moment-- I love it, but it's not always as easy as it seems. There are moments of doubt and even worse moments when others try to decide or give their opinion about the curls, even without being asked,  which increases repressed insecurities. It’s not easy, but it is an adventure. If you're reading this, and you're a pelúa like me, maybe you can relate to what I have to say.

When I was little, in the silence of my room, sometimes with guilt in my heart, I would wish for hair like my mother’s: soft, straight and easily manageable. I wanted to not stand out. I had some friends with curly hair but their curl patterns were much different o mine. Their curls were loose and wavy and they didn’t quite have the texture or bulk that mine have. There were times when I even tried to imitate hairstyles that my straight-haired friends used, but it resulted in frizzy tangles and headaches. I felt different, like an outcast I was young; I didn't understand the depth of my desires which meant that I was ultimately rejecting myself. However, I never did anything about it, except for using texturizers that softened my curls for better handling, which I regret.

I recently reconnected with these feelings when I began to venture into the professional world and faced administrative etiquette, both in college and at work. In project presentations, professors always talk about dressing professionally and presentably. So far, I have not had problems with professors, except for their comments asking me to pull my hair in hairstyles where my face can be seen, but I do feel the looks I get from people in the hallways, not that it matters, but it does sometimes make me feel like I used to when I was a child: different.

 

I appreciate that the representation of curly heads has increased. This is one of the things that has helped me to embrace who I am, but I think there are still things that we could improve in the media to make us even more visible. There are too many little girls in this world who, when they go, for example, to the beauty salon to cut their hair, the people in charge of the place always offer to straighten it just as they used to ask me all the time when I was young. Girls hear phrases like "ugly hair" and "pelo grifo". If I could personally tell each one of those girls what I would like to tell my ten-year-old self, I would say to shake that hair as if there was no tomorrow, to look in the mirror and love the voluminous curls that accompany them on each of their little heads. I want them to feel proud of belonging to such a beautiful community, and that they are not alone.

 

Living between curls, as I mentioned, is an adventure. I still have a lot to learn and I am open to continuing cultivating a positive relationship with my curls. I think it is important to rely on pelúas like me, to relieve and help each other among ourselves through difficult processes like going back to natural hair or styling/maintenance advice; having gals pals in the same situation helps tons when in come to acceptance in general. Talking about these things is very enriching. The rejection is real, but I trust that self-acceptance is more powerful. I hope the world can learn to see with our eyes, because it's difficult to stand out from the rest, but at the same time it feels exciting and special. ¡Lúcete pelúa!