Accepting the Curly Life

(Originally posted: August 5, 2015)

BRONX, NY- Mami has an album full of baby photos that proves I was bald until the age of two. As much as I love to argue that I at least had some kind of blond peach fuzz, the fact is I had no hair. When my hair started to become visible, it went from blond to brunette in a matter of years and curled. The curls weren’t easy to manage as a kid. I cried when Mami used all kinds of shampoos, conditioners, and tangle free products on my scalp. Mami scrubbed my head to the point that I felt like my brain matter would somehow be exposed.

As I got older some of the blond highlights returned. I have never dyed my hair. Even though most of my friends in high school had a variety of colors on their heads, I was not into that. I love my natural hair color of blond and brunette. The blond comes out more in the summer when the sun hits it. Maintaining the curls was my biggest issue.

I got into the habit of straightening my hair to control the curls. I assumed that my curls would always be a problem and that I should be like the other girls who had nice, straight hair. So I got a flat iron and temporarily got rid of them, or at least I tried to. Not many flat irons worked on my hair until Mami got me the InStyler. It worked great and my hair was done in half the time of using a regular flat iron. I thought to myself “yes! I found something that works.” Over time however, my hair started to get damaged.

The heat from the InStyler made my ends brittle and my hair was beginning to thin. The summer was even worse. Managing curly hair with the humidity… Ha! Buena suerte. Eventually I got tired of all those commercials about having straight and healthy hair. What’s wrong with curly, wavy, or thick hair? I do not have pelo malo.

The more I realized nothing was wrong with my hair the more stupid I felt for giving in to those ads about a “perfect image.” TV and magazine advertisements indirectly attack minorities on their looks. There is nothing wrong with my hair at all. I don’t use products like gel, mousse, or hairspray anymore. Shampoo and conditioners are all I need. I did recently buy a new InStyler, but at least this one has a ceramic barrel and will do less heat damage on the special occasions I do straighten my hair. The waves show up a few minutes after I straighten it and some frizz is normal, but that’s okay.

I accept my curls now. Its a part of what makes me unique. There are some days where I have a battle with them in the morning, but other than that my curls are great. Different stores have products for women with curly hair now. I have to be careful if I ever consider using those products due to my citrus allergy (I can’t use Garner Fructis products. I learned that the hard way). For now, natural and curly it is. I wrote this post not because I consider myself a beauty expert. I don’t even use makeup. I wrote this so that other women can be empowered to not fall for those ads like I did and accept the beautiful differences that God gave them.

Photos: Rosa Elena Burgos

Note: I highlighted my hair for the first time ever this year (2019). It looks nice, but I probably will not do it again.

Last updated: July 17, 2019