Straight Hair Syndrome
I write this knowing there are people who will not understand, who wish they had naturally curly hair, and who think I’m complaining about nothing.
I’ve had curly hair all my life, 25 years to be exact. But I didn’t know I still had curly hair when I started public middle school, when I was 12. The explanation? My parent used a blow-dryer on my hair until I was an adolescent. I knew how to do my hair, but it didn’t occur to me that curly hair was SO different. I also RELIGIOUSLY wore my hair up in a ponytail, bun, or braid growing up. My hair was only down when it was school portrait day. So when I would release my hair from the hair tie I would be left with that oh-so-lovely smooth-bumpy hair or waves from the braids.
My father preferred my hair shoulder length growing up, it wasn’t until 7th grade that I realized I can grow my hair out, wear it down whenever, and style it however. The reason I mention my dad is because he was the one drying our hair, brushing out my curls, constatnly negging me that my hair looked like a ‘rat’s nest’-when in reality NOBODY KNEW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF CURLS and in-turn were ruining mine!!!
Eighth and ninth grade I spent time growing my hair to the longest it’s ever been, wearing it curly, and then one day I had the revelation to cut it short. And then about 6 months later I would cut it myself, and then again chop it myself another 2 months later. What good came from that last self-inflicted haircut? Well it was 2010 and let’s just say I looked like a tall, red-headed Justin Bieber of the time.
IT. WAS. HORRENDOUS.
But I had a flat iron and eventually got extensions.
This is where the SHS comes in. I legitimately could not wear my hair curly for the next 1.5 years. I refused to. I felt ugly, out of place, even more noticeable, fizzy, unkempt. And I’ll be honest, my curly hair makes me feel that way today from time to time.
I know plenty of men and women that have beautiful, natural curls and rock them daily in the professional world. But my curls make me feel anything but professional. They don’t usually stay in place, or stay without frizz, and if they aren’t frizzy it’s probably because I have five pounds of product hidden in there.
I write this because I know I cannot be the only one feeling this way. I know womxn of color have a much harder time with their natural hair, when it comes to getting hired, being taken seriously, and even restrictions on natural or traditional styles in the workplace or schools.
Does your hair play a big part in how you feel about yourself professionally? Does your hair make you feel beautiful? Is there a style you won’t wear because of how it makes you feel?