When I was in the first grade, I got dressed up for school picture day. I wore a maroon button-up shirt and church trousers, and I brushed – yes, brushed – my curly hair as best I could. I chose my own outfit and groomed myself. My mother had just left my father, me, and my siblings only about six months before picture day; I was super-proud of myself for getting ready on my own. I thought I looked great! Shortly after arriving at school, I was walking to my classroom when a passing older woman (third grader) I had never spoken to looked me in the eye and said: “You look ugly today.”
Almost all curlies have that defining moment when we choose – or were forced to choose – to decide our curls are unpretty.
I felt completely crushed and embarrassed. I knew she was talking specifically about my hair. It just looked… poofy, frizz springing out of every curl. Almost all curlies have that defining moment when we choose – or were forced to choose – to decide our curls are unpretty, unruly, crazy, out of control, less-than, had a mind of their own… the list goes on. For me, this was that moment. From that day forward I spent the entirety of my childhood using clippers to buzz my little curls off. For about five years I even shaved my head entirely bald. Anything to get rid of my “ugly” hair.
Then, many years later, one fateful day, my wife devoted herself to curly hair. As she learned how to care for and love her own hair, she began to show me how to do the same. Once I knew how to care for my curls, I began to love and feel proud of them. To be honest, I’m still learning how to do this, but it’s all about the journey.
The reason I share this story is that my hair has been one thing about my appearance that caused me to develop negative beliefs about myself and gain core assumptions about how others perceive me. I have never forgotten what that third grader said to me so many years ago, and I’m sure you haven’t forgotten your own moment, either. I will never forget the way she looked at me with utter disdain; a look of bewilderment that I even tried to not look ugly. That happened when I was seven, but I built a personality, replete with dysfunctional defense mechanisms, around these core assumptions about myself. I still deal with the last vestiges of that wounded kid today.
Having stylists who have heard similar comments, held similar self-deprecating beliefs, and felt similar frustrations teach you how to love that unique hair of yours is a powerful way of springboarding your recovery.
On the wall of the Curl Boutique, there is a quote that says “Ask a curly about their hair and they will tell you about their life.” For the curly person, self-image and hair are inextricably tied. We use language like “I hate my hair,” or we act as though our hair is a sentient being that is misbehaving. Your curls are likely a huge part of your identity; they’re a huge part of mine! This is meant to be a message of hope. You are not beautiful despite your hair; you are beautiful because of it.
Learning – and truly believing – that your curls make you beautiful and that you can love them is a step toward freedom.
You can learn you and your curls are beautiful whether you go to the Curl Boutique or not. But, having stylists who have heard similar comments, held similar self-deprecating beliefs, and felt similar frustrations teach you how to love that unique hair of yours is a powerful way of springboarding your recovery from the wounding of the child. Learning – and truly believing – that your curls make you beautiful and that you can love them is a step toward freedom.
Curly hair can be insecurity that is out in the open. It can cause us to question whether people are looking at us and thinking we look ugly. Learning to care for this amazing part of you can begin to help you love a part of yourself you have hated and hidden.