A Curly Hair Narrative
One out of millions.
A first-person narrative about me in my twenties discovering how to embrace, recognize, and cherish what it means to have coarse, curly, and unruly hair. While some see it as an overarching difference, I see it as a tool to celebrate and affirm my own differences as a woman of color.
I think it is important to emphasize the fact that I am Latinx. My mother is from Santa Ana, El Salvador, and my father is from Sierra Alta, Puerto Rico. I only say this as a disclaimer because every curly hair narrative is different. My two sisters got the silky, yet still curly but smaller heads of Salvadorean hair. I was blessed with the Puerto Rican locks that always made their way down to the lower middle area of my back. My hair never failed to make me late, want to shave my head, or spend hundreds of dollars on products that will “tame the frizz!” or fix my “bedhead.” I remember the time when I discovered what a flat iron can do. I used it as if it was my holy grail in high school, not giving the damage it would do to my hair a second thought. In my eyes, it was the only way I could look like the other girls from school who were so glorified for their blonde, naturally straight head of hair. My flat iron was the only way I could get a good nights sleep and wake up, eat, brush my teeth, and quickly run a brush through my hair and be out the door just in time to sit in front of my locker, like everyone did waiting for school to start. I always thought it was interesting how when I decided to wear my hair natural, a few white girls got upset. They would say things and ask questions like:
Did you just roll out of bed?
What did you do to your hair because it usually doesn’t look like that.
Braids today? The beast is tamed!
The point is: if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all, and if you have to ask to touch it, you probably shouldn’t. I thought this was a universal rule amongst all households. I couldn’t have been more wrong! The audacity people have to come up and really dig and try to feel under my scalp for a sew in, extensions, or a weave because my hair couldn’t be as curly as it was. I thought it was even more interesting when I finally started wrapping my hair in satin and silk to keep it from frizzing. My family members made several comments that made me uncomfortable at times. Nonetheless I wore it and it worked just like all the tutorials on Youtube said they would. Just now as I make my way upstairs for bed my mother reminds me how I ruined my hair by comparing it to a headshot done for my kindergarten picture where I had thin, long silky hair. I was shocked because I never once considered my hair ruined. Maybe mistreated, but never ruined. After a lot of growth (literally and figuratively) I don’t let the micro aggressions, questions, or side comments get to me. Now I’m happy to say I finally learned how to accept my journey and appreciate the loosely coiled locks I was given. I moisturize, I condition, I comb, but most importantly, I accept and learn that my hair does not define me. It is just one encompassing aspect of who I am.