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No More Curly Hair Stigma!

November 13, 2015

I REALLY resent that society has stigmatized natural curly hair of any type, especially in women.

I remember when I was a young teenage girl, my hair was as wild as they came.

And it's still wild!

And it’s still wild!

The kids, boys and girls, in school would tease and poke fun of curly hair girls. I remember hearing comments of how straight hair was more beautiful than curly hair, and as such, straight hair girls were prettier than curly hair girls. There was some sort of constant silent implication that somehow the presence of curls on my head, meant, I was inferior to someone with straight hair.

I walked around, and still walk around, with a wild head of hair, and I had a good reason for not caring about the things I heard around me too much. Yeah, sometimes the sting of the comments would make me flinch inside. Sometimes I looked in the mirror, and grabbed a curl to stretch it, only to have it bounce right back in a more unruly way than before. Yeah, I thought about the sting of the words I heard, but… I was fortunate to have a buffer in my life that helped deflect the things I heard and saw.

My mother has a beautiful head of curls. I never saw my mother use chemicals on her hair to relax her curls, or constantly flat iron her hair to make it look straighter. So, at times when the outside words carried a sting on my heart that day, I would ask her why didn’t she straighten her hair. She would always answer the same way… “I don’t think so! Why? There’s nothing wrong with curly hair.”

There is nothing wrong with curly hair! Did ya hear that society? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH CURLY HAIR!!! (In case I wasn’t heard the first time.)

Those were the lessons, from my small-framed, firecracker, sassy-mouthed mother, that held up my confidence as I got older.

Those are the lessons I now pass on to my daughter, and both of my sons.

For some reason, once I set the belief in place with my sons that their wild curls were gorgeous, that was it, and they’ve even attributed certain high-stature characteristics to their hair, like chick-magnet, and afro-powers. Yet, it was different for my little girl. The weight of the stigma was heavier for her than it was for them because her curls were tighter and more afro-ish than her brothers.

I am Puertorican and my husband is Black, curls are just a fact of life. Now, as an adult and thanks to my mother, the sting of curly hair does not exist for me. Do I get frustrated with my curls when they decide to do exactly as they want, and not as I asked? Of course! But I’m no longer stung by the curly hair stigma because I know my hair is the way it is supposed to be, and I was created perfectly for me.

Now, there’s a different battle that I fight. Now, I fight a battle for my daughter’s heart.

How can I not fight for her?

How can I not fight for her?

I knew what she was in for, because I had been there myself. I was well acquainted with the stigma against curly hair, and in particular, curly hair women. To counter the sting I knew society would try to put on her, I made it a point to always encourage my daughter not to cave in to that pressure. I taught her to wear her natural curls loud and proud. How best to teach her that lesson but with my example? The same way my mother lived the example for me, I live it for my daughter without hesitation, fully encouraging her to love all of herself, including all the wild curls on her head.

The times I sensed her hesitance on sporting her natural curls, I would go fluff mine out even more and say, let’s go. The smile on her face acknowledging her approval. I used to keep my hair long most of the time, but when she hinted quietly one day that she wished her hair was longer, I took scissors and chopped mine off to match hers; making it a point to tell her how much I loved her short curly hair.

For those who think I’m nuts… you can think whatever you want, I don’t particularly care. I know what I’m doing because I lived the benefits of having a mother who did that for me. She set the compass in my life that now I use to guide my daughter with. I will always stand with my baby girl in all our curly wildness, and be proud of who we are. I say that even to the people that dared to suggest that I didn’t know how to “fix” my baby girl’s hair, or that I was being lazy, just because I encouraged her to wear her hair in her natural afro style.

We have to be an example to our girls, by BEING the example they need to see. How else will they grow to be confident in themselves? Curls, of any kind, are as beautiful as straight hair… let’s prove that to them! We can’t encourage our girls by going against societal norms with our words, but then falling in line with society in our actions. Stop chemically treating your hair to make it straight, or flat-ironing your hair to make it straight! Stop doing those same things to your daughter’s hair! Show them instead how to take care of their naturally curly hair, and wear yours proudly with her!

Be the example that she needs, with your words AND with your actions. Words and actions make a difference in your daughter’s life; one without the other, will not do. You will empower her, you will build her up, and you will set a strong foundation in her life that will spill over to all areas of her life, but it will never happen, unless you make the choice to show her through your words and your actions that there is nothing wrong with curly hair, and there is nothing wrong with her.

During one of our conversations, my daughter pointed out this short video on YouTube, and I thought it was a perfect addition to my post. Hopefully one day, my daughter and my sons will hold their daughter’s hand, and guide their hearts the way my mother did with me, and the way I did with them. If I’m still around, you can bet your boots I’m gonna join their club to sport the wild curls God gave me, and to continue encouraging all of them to do the same!

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From → The Wife's Side

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