Letting my hair down

Acceptance is the first and only rule on dealing with curly hair


Chae Park

Caryn Corliss, Staff Writer

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Curly hair, without fail, is the most talked about of my attributes. As soon as I was introduced to the world, toddling about in jumpers and teeny Velcro sneakers, people talked about my hair. It’s earned me nicknames and attention and compliments. And I haven’t done a single solitary thing.

Reflecting back, I can recall nearly all the comments. I suppose a toddler with an afro is a pretty big deal, as it never went unmentioned. I remember squeaking voices, pitched by mock surprise. They’d ask if we could switch hairstyles because they’ve just always wanted curls. I’d blink up at them and panic. I couldn’t read yet, I still had trouble saying 50 percent of my vocabulary. How was I supposed to answer that?

Women used to ask my mother if she gave me perms. She’d politely correct them: “No, I do not perm my 2-year-old’s head. Surprisingly.”

The irony of curly hair is, of course, that nobody wants it at first. More than anything, I wanted long, sleek, straight locks, undoubtedly inspired by the only Disney princess who mattered: Pocahontas. I’d stand in front of the mirror out of the bath and tug at the dark dripping strands. “Stay!” I’d urge, admiring the way it was plastered against my head. I’d attempt to run my fingers through it before getting caught in a snag and giving up.

But that mindset didn’t stick for very long. Even in the awkward years when I fashioned a big, frizzy, mass of messiness, I appreciated it. It was mine, my own home-grown tresses, and I didn’t see anyone else with hair quite like my own.

And even though the frizzy mess was at times unpleasant, the idea of the overall “natural-ness” going away forever stopped me short. The first thing I said when my friend’s mom produced a shiny Chi straightner and told me she’d be happy to give me a makeover whenever I wanted was, “Will it go back?”

At times I’ll feel a delicate hand brush by it. I’ll turn around and be greeted with a sheepish apology: “Sorry, just wanted to know what it felt like.” Sometimes I don’t turn around at all. Just kind of soak in the fact that the dead cells that grow from my head are special enough for someone to take a second of their time to reach up and touch, while also running the risk that I might be angry. But I never am. It’s very flattering.

The thing about my hair is that I’m comfortable with it. Everything from my completely natural care routine, to the amusing end result. I literally do nothing to it. I wash and condition every other day. Twist the water out, step out of the shower, and don’t touch it. The most important part of my hair care is what I don’t do. After years of Frizz-eez and constant brushing I finally found the anomaly that separates my morning from some others, and still makes me utterly happy. So for those seeking the almighty secret for good curly hair, here it is: cut it in layers, put on a smile and throw away your brush.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]