I didn’t always love my curly hair.
When I was in middle school, my curly hair only seemed like something that made me different from the rest, and at the time, that wasn’t a good thing. In a way, it made me feel like the odd one out; at pool parties it took me longer to wash it, and I couldn’t braid it or style it the way my other friends did.
I remember asking my mom, “What if one day it were to dry straight?” But she reassuringly told me that it was impossible for that to happen naturally, in fact, she reminded me that hers was still curly although she blow-dried it every week. At that moment, I thought that my hair texture was everything but a blessing.
Generations of women in my family before me had struggled with their hair too. Some of them cut it “like a boy’s” (like my aunts), others permanently straightened it with dangerous chemicals, and others, like my mom, blow-dried it every week. At the time I wondered, what about curly hair is so dangerous, so revolutionary, that one has to hide it like a crime?
[bctt tweet=”What about curly hair is so dangerous, so revolutionary, that one has to hide it like a crime?” username=”wearethetempest”]
For some strange reason—that I still don’t understand—curly hair is not acceptable in Colombia and Latin America as a whole. Women who are born with it are supposed to “fix it” by resorting to a lifetime at the hair salon. And at first I refused to be one of them. I think I lasted the longest amongst my friends who had curly hair to resort to the blow-drier and the flat-iron. But at the age of 15, I caved in.
From keratin treatments to Fridays at the hair salon, I became just like the other women in my hometown. I remember the first time I went to school with my hair straightened, everyone looked at me like I was a different person. As if they had discovered that I was actually beautiful. That’s when I had my “Princess Diaries” moment. Just like Mia, I took off my hat to reveal surprisingly smooth, straight hair. Ha. And just like that I became basic.
It wasn’t until I came to Boston for college that I decided to let my real self loose, and by that, I mean my curly hair. I no longer had to hide from the rain, or fear that a few drops of water were going to reveal the “horrific” reality that lied on top of my head. Far from home, I had been liberated from the blow-drier.
After some time, I understood that succumbing to the societal pressure of having straight hair, was like letting society tell me that there was a part of me that I needed to hide. This went beyond my hair, it was something that set me apart from the rest, a sign that showed that just like my hair, I was wild, that I wasn’t tame.
Once I realized that I had a powerful weapon that set me apart from the norm is when I learned to love my curly hair. While in middle school having something that made me different was a problem, now it’s actually a blessing. Whenever I go back home with my curly hair, I can see the looks on people’s faces while they probably wonder: “Why doesn’t she style it like everyone else?” Well, maybe because I’m not like everyone else.
[bctt tweet=”It wasn’t until I came to Boston for college that I decided to let my real self loose.” username=”wearethetempest”]
By using my hair curly, I’m doing justice to generations of women in my family who were forced to hide their uniqueness, who had to to be tamed. Although I use my hair straight sometimes, I love having the versatility that my natural hair provides because I can style it in different textures. So the next time someone gives me the advice to get myself “fixed” by getting a keratin treatment, I’m going to tell them that I would never dare lose something so valuable.