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How I Learned to Accept My Curly Hair

How I Learned to Accept My Curly Hair

We all have a struggle we face when it comes to body image. For me, it’s my hair. My wild, Italian, brown-black, curly, frizzy mop. It may look like a bear on top of my scalp, but it’s my hair, my struggle—and my love (but it wasn’t always that way). I never really minded my curls until I was teenager.

When everything felt wrong—my baby fat, my pimples, my emotions—my hair didn’t help the matter. I looked different from the girls with straight locks to flip over their shoulder. When my aunt gave me a straightener, I was relieved and in awe. With only an hour and some gel, I could look like everyone else. For a while, it was bliss. But when I washed my hair, the misery all came rushing back. It’s ironic: By looking my true self, I had a harder time embracing my true identity.

Middle school came and went in a wave of confusion and frustration. As I struggled with my emotions, my hair struggle continued. Finally, I came to the realization that I could only make myself happy. I decided that if my real hair wasn’t making me happy, straightening it wouldn’t either. Curly hair was in my genes; nothing was going to change that. Suddenly, when my curls were freed, I became freed. Life was looking good.

When I went back to school, I missed the compliments I used to get. “Straight hair makes you cute!” “I liked your hair straight, it was pretty!” I tried not to let it get to me. Instead of letting myself feel angry, I only felt better that I hadn’t given in to the societal views that straight hair was the best hair. My hair wasn’t what forced me to be different from the crowd; it was what helped me be different from the crowd. With my lion's mane to protect me, I couldn’t fail. I still straighten my hair for fun. However, it is in no way an obsession and I love my curly hair again.

When I look in the mirror and see curls, I smile. I like them on me; they twist and turn and writhe, and they twirl when I twirl. While I used to feel ugly with my curls, I feel wild and free and beautiful. I can feel the wind running through my locks; if it was straight I would only feel the pressure from American capitalism, deciding if it could market me the latest de-frizzer. At one time they could, but not anymore.

My story is about my hair, yes. A story of my struggle, my discovery of myself. But this isn't just my story; it's also a hope to all the other girls out there. Whoever you are, whatever your struggle is, accept and love it, whether it’s a straight or curly or kinky one, love the things that make you different. Accept them. I promise you it only gets better.

By Grace, 13

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