Earlier this week, a friend and I tweeted briefly about the mutual envy straight-haired and curly-haired women have for each other. Since the majority of American women have straight hair, I thought I’d share my perspective on having naturally curly hair.
- People assume you have a perm. Apparently white women so rarely have curly hair that people assume it isn’t natural. I’m sure this assumption is aided and abetted by the fact that we see so few curly haired white characters on television and in the movies. A curly-haired actress once told me that US productions straighten her hair, so she loves it when she works in the UK because she gets to keep it curly.
- Expect compliments – and lots of them. But it’s not all fun & games. Having curly hair can be downright miserable at times. When I was younger, I desperately wanted straight hair, for two reasons. First, I was constantly teased and given cruel nicknames at school because I had curly hair. This happened primarily because of reason number two: I had no idea how to style it, and no one around me knew how to teach me. That all changed when, as an adult, I discovered some amazing product lines designed for curly hair. It was revolutionary, and I started to really enjoy having curly hair.
- You’ll get tired of explaining things to the non-curly brigade. Even by college, I was tired of stupid comments such as “how does curly hair get tangled?” My smart-ass reply: “How does it NOT get tangled?”
- In addition to teasing when things to wrong, expect envy when things go right. This came primarily from the mothers of my classmates.
- In ballet, since I was tall, I was usually cast as a boy. One day, I accidentally came to class with perfect ringlets. One of the mothers asked me how I’d done it, because she needed to style her daughter’s hair that way for the performance. So I told her: wash the hair at night, put it into an old-fashioned pony-tail (at the base of the neck), sleep on it, and take it out of the pony-tail in the morning. That was it. She was not happy – apparently my curls were wasted on me. Hey, I wasn’t the one who cast me as a boy!
- Then there was the woman who asked me where I got my curls, expecting them to be a perm, and was in awe when I sheepishly replied “my grandma”.
- Most hairstylists have no idea how to deal with your hair. I pay more for haircuts than my straight-haired friends. A bad cut with curly hair is nightmarish – it can lead to unintentional layering, frizziness, and all kinds of nasty things. Us curly girls keep each other up to date on which stylists can handle our hair (and who can’t). Hairstylists aside, I’m not likely to let straight-haired friends near my hair, especially if they say things like “but why does it have to be wet to comb it?” or “what’s a diffuser?”
- There’s more than one type of curl. A stylist once told me there’s curly hair and there’s coily hair. Mine is in the coily category, which is why it falls into such enviable ringlets. Also, my hair doesn’t have the texture and natural oils that hair of African ancestry has, so I can’t do many of the awesome things black women do with their hair.
- Curly hair can predict the weather. Seriously. Curly hair is incredibly climate sensitive. I grew up in thunderstorm territory, and one year had a better track record than the weather guy for predicting when a storm would come through. All based on keeping track of how my hair reacted to different weather patterns.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into the life of a curly-haired woman. If you want to know more, perhaps consider beauty school. Or at least a beauty-themed blog; http://www.naturallycurly.com looks like a good place to start, based on the one page I looked at. Yes, just one page. You really expect me to spend more time on this? No way. I’m a writer, not a hair stylist!