“Is your hair naturally curly?” a lady asked me one hot, humid summer day.
“Yes,” I said. I never exactly know how the curly hair conversation is going to go. Sometimes when people ask if I have naturally curly hair, it ends up with them giving me a compliment, and that is nice. Other times, the conversation goes in the other direction.
“The last few years my hair has turned curly and I just hate it,” she said as she tugged on her hair as if pulling it would make it go straight. “Before this curly mop, I had straight hair. I just don’t know what to do with it now. Each day is different. How do you handle it?” I guessed that no compliment was going to be coming my way.
“It is true, that every hair day is different. I used to fight it, but now I just embrace the curl,” I said with a smile. She smiled but seemed as if she was not happy that I did not help her with her problem, and she walked away without saying thank you when I told her that I thought her hair looked cute.
There were many days when my curls frustrated me especially when I was in junior high school. At that time Marcia Brady from the Brady Bunch was the cutest girl on TV. It seemed like every girl in my school had long, beautiful, shiny, straight hair that grew and grew, longer and longer. Everywhere I turned I saw glistening hair being flung this way and that. I grew my hair. It grew and curled, and grew in waves. All my tricks of trying to make my hair straight never worked. It never ended up looking like Marcia Brady’s hair. My school pictures looked as if I was trying to think my hair straight, and it was not a pretty sight.
Then the 80s arrived, and big hair was in. I noticed that the hot and humid days were the best for curly-haired people. Sometimes the straight-haired people looked so sad on muggy days. They complained, “I just don’t have any body in my hair when it gets this humid.” That is when my hair and I became friends. People were spending a lot of money getting permanents, trying to get the curly hair look. Even though my hair and I were getting along, I thought that spending money on permanents was just crazy!
One day, I found out how I look with straight hair. I had heard that hormones can do odd things, and I learned this on the day my first child was born. I got that spurt of energy that they say you get before going into labor, but I didn’t know that was what was happening to me. I was driving all over town, running errands, my belly so big that it hit the steering wheel and I could hardly touch the accelerator. I noticed in the rearview mirror that my hair had gone stick straight. The hair that I thought I always wanted made me look awful. Ever since that day I realized that I liked my curly hair.
Even though I can look like a puff-ball at times, and each hair day looks like a different hairstyle, I like that I have learned to embrace the curl.