This is a story that is a little bit about self-love and exploration, but it is also about acceptance and denial. It is about years of searching for the curly haired cure.
If you looked at me today, one of the things you would probably first notice is my hair. Its voluminous size and endless kinks make it hard to miss, but I was not always blessed with my thick mane. During my younger years, I had straight, soft locks that were easy to maintain and in my opinion, fit within the hair standards of beauty. Gowing up, my image of beautiful hair was straight, blonde, long hair. I did not notice women of color on magazine covers, with curly locks gracing the front page. Nope, instead, I saw the blonde hair, blue eyed beauties front and center, which really shaped my standards of beauty.
When I was graced by the curly hair gods, I was around 11 years old, right in that essential pre-teen time period. This is the age where I felt that appearance mattered most, as I was finishing elementary school and on the brink of entering middle school. I spent a majority of those years straightening my hair, doing everything I possibly could to blend in. I knew my parents would never let me wear the classic American Eagle shorts, or buy me 4 different pairs of Sperry Boat Shoes, so I settled for a hair straightener. It was not glamorous, and in reality, it did not even work that well. My Conair "wet to dry" straightener was definitely not intended for such thick, curly hair. But nonetheless, having the straightener made me feel better.
My years during junior high and early high school were spent trying to essentially, destroy my hair, rather than seeking to understand what products I needed and how my hair works; the reality is that I just wanted to get rid of it instead. Growing up, I didn't really have anyone to teach me how to work with my hair. My mom has an extremely different hair type: short, thinner, and straight. How was this woman supposed to tame my endless curls?
During one of my early curly years, my mother did the unthinkable: she cut my hair, believing that it would be easier on everyone. Post-haircut, I cried and cried and cried. Not because the curls were gone, but because I felt ugly. For a long time, I believed that long beautiful hair is what set the "pretty girls" apart from the rest; at the time, I did not have the concept of inner beauty and didn't realize that I would rather have a compassionate heart over a pretty face.
So finally, I learned what the curly haired cure is. It is to love and accept my curls just the way they are. Yes, I am still exploring and trying to figure out which products work best for me, but I have embraced my curls, and in the process, have reinvented my own standards of beauty.