I‘ve always had really thick, curly, unruly hair and it’s been on quite the journey.
When I was in elementary school, it was about 4 inches past my shoulders until I cut it into a short bob to donate to Locks of Love.
While I’m really proud of my 10-year-old self, I’ve struggled with my hair ever since. After cutting it so short I felt the need to straighten it (with very little skill) every day until 7th grade, when I got it cut into what was basically a circle. It was not a cute look.
Then in 8th grade I went back to my heat tools and since then, I’ve bounced between letting it go natural and heat styling it every day.
There are a few reasons I was so hesitant to embrace my hair. One of those is that I think I look better when my hair isn’t super short, so when I let it go curly it was mainly in the hopes of longer, healthier hair. But then I’d get impatient and flat iron it because it looked so much longer when it wasn’t as curly. It was a vicious cycle of cutting the damaged ends off and then damaging them all over again. I also think I look way way younger when my hair is curly (and shorter) so when I was in the “I want to look like I’m actually 18 when in fact I’m only 15” phase, I tended to tame the curls.
Finally, it was a matter of fitting in. I went to the same school from K-12 and while there admittedly wasn’t much variety when it came to people to compare myself to because of how small the classes were, there were very few girls with my same hair type. I was always jealous of how their long, silky straight hair swayed and looked so great up in a ponytail or braid.
But then I realized, I’m more than my hair. While I believe that one’s appearance can be related to one’s identity in a healthy way in terms of creativity and expression, I couldn’t keep basing how I felt about everything off of how my hair looked that day.
Now, I’m finally in a place where I accept my curls for who they are. I admit that, while I started loving my hair on my own, it took other people saying, “I love your hair!,” when I wore it natural to push me to fully embrace the curls, but now that I have I’m much more confident in myself. Sure, I still blow my hair out and finish with a curling iron every once in a while, but I don’t do that in order to fit in with however everyone else looks, or because I hate my curls (as frustrating as they can be when it’s windy and humid and they don’t want to stay in place). I realized that my curls don’t define me. I love them and use them to express myself, but I also use heat tools to express my current style.
To anyone who’s struggling with an aspect of themselves they don’t love, I encourage you to think about why, exactly, you don’t want to accept it. Maybe you’re like me and want to fit in or just don’t like how your hair, or your skin, or any part of you looks. But keep in mind that while you can use makeup and fashion choices to express who you are, you are still more than how you look.