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I Hated My Curly Hair Growing Up — Here’s How I Learned to Love It

This piece has been syndicated from Her Campus at Pittsburg. You can join a chapter at your school (or start your own!).

Growing up, I never knew how to manage my curly hair. Like any other little kid, I hated brushing my hair because it always got tangled in crazy knots from how naturally curly it was. My grandmother always wanted to brush my hair whenever I went over so it would look more manageable than how wild my curls are. I remember being almost envious of the other girls in elementary school because of how perfect and tamed their straight, beautiful hair was, unlike my curls.

My grandmother and parents tried telling me, “Oh, you have such pretty curls from eating the crust of your bread, just like your mother.” I never really believed them when I was eight years old.

I swam throughout most of my childhood, so I never felt embarrassed of anyone seeing my curls or letting my hair down. It all had to go into a ponytail or bun to fit underneath my swim cap, and even if it was wet, I wore a beanie or something to keep my head warm after practice or meets; however, I had to have straight hair for the annual team photos.

Every morning, I would either brush my hair repeatedly until I brushed it straight, or I would put it in a small bun so nobody could really see my curls. Anytime I went to the hairdresser, I would have them straighten my hair and try to keep it straight days after getting it cut because that was when I felt like the best version of myself. Everyone took notice when I had my hair straightened and would always compliment me, which only fueled my drive to keep straightening it. I mean, if other people thought it was beautiful, why shouldn’t I?

I never learned the proper way to take care of curly hair. Sure, I had shampoo and conditioner that was specifically formulated for curly hair. I also eventually learned to never actually brush my hair, but to use a wide toothed comb but that was it.

It took up until I got into high school to try styling my curly hair. Every time I went to Giant Eagle, I would go down the aisle where they kept all the hair care to find new products. My bathroom countertop was flooded with different products that promised to “enhance my curls” and leave them “glamorous like the celebrities.” However, all these products did more damage than good. They left my hair feeling dry and heavy. It looked healthy, but it wasn’t. It gave the appearance of wonderful, dreamlike curls but they were damaged from the different chemicals used in the products.

Flash forward to my sophomore year of college, and everything changes. As a Christmas present this past year, my mom made me an appointment at a place called Kindred Curls in Penn Hills. They had me complete an online survey, where I told the details of my curly hair and what I hoped to get out of the appointment.

When I got to my appointment, they spent an hour and a half talking about my curls, how I currently style them, and what problems I face with them. They did this cool way of cutting my hair when it was dry rather than when it was wet and freshly washed. When they did wash my hair, they taught me exactly how to wash it. Taking care of your hair is really a science I was just beginning to discover. There are certain ways of using the shampoo and conditioner to help not only wash your hair, but help the curls form better. I left my first appointment with all-natural products and a personalized hair care routine I would adopt quickly.

The whole experience honestly was just lifechanging. To be surrounded by women who have such a wide variety of curly hair between them really helped lift my confidence when it came to embracing my curls. Sure, I might not have straight hair, but I think my curls are perfect just the way they are.

Eva is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Political Science and Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies. Outside of Her Campus, she is a part of Phi Alpha Delta and a tour guide on campus. In her free time, either at Starbucks "studying" or at apartment binge-watching Queer Eye.
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