My friends are getting married this weekend! Some of my very best friends. I’m in the wedding party and I’m SO excited to be a part of this day! And although that’s fun and well and good, this post isn’t really about them. It’s just kind of a segue way into how I found some old photos. Obviously, as every good wedding has, there will be a slideshow. I took to looking through some old albums to find some gems to pass on to the Maid of Honour. In doing so, I found several photos of me going through my chubby, braces, hair out to everywhere phase (seriously. It was a really, really bad phase). These were hilarious to look at, but also intensely nostalgic and somewhat painful. I was instantly transported to a time when I not only felt extremely uncomfortable with my own skin, but was extremely uncomfortable with my haphazard, stick-out-everywhere hair. As anyone who has curly hair can attest, growing up and trying to figure out your hair is one of the most difficult periods of your life. Having extremely curly, 3b/3c hair and a bristle hair brush as your only styling tool will absolutely lead to disaster. Granted, most kids growing up encounter an awkward phase where they are unsure of themselves, or feel gross or frustrated; this post is simply to document why I feel so intensely grateful for my hair now, and for people to realize what a complete 180º turnaround this was. Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
My mother, as I’ve mentioned before, has very straight, fine, blondish hair. My hair genetics are purely from my father’s side of the table (for a full example of this, the little blond girl who’s cropped off in the above photo is my cousin, on my mother’s side. Just so you get an idea of the contrast). So, as a young kid, my hair was brushed, and brushed, and brushed. It’s all Mom knew how to do, and I don’t blame her (however, thanks a lot Dad for stepping in and suggesting alternative methods!!! You big jerk). This lead me to believe very early on that my hair was not like other kid’s hair – it was wild. It was bad. When Grade 3 rolled around and bangs seemed like a good idea? Forget about it. I had to painstakingly twist velcro curlers into my bangs in the hopes that this would UN-CURL them enough to lay somewhat flat. Halfway through the day, they would inevitably have gravitated upwards. And so it began. I was constantly upset through early prepubescence – usually with my appearance. Horrible nicknames were created by classmates, usually centred around my hair – there was only one or two other curly-haired people at my school, so I was different. And as we all know, being different as a kid can be very, very bad.
Everywhere I looked, people with straight, sleek hair abounded. I grew up in a small city, attending a somewhat country-ish school. I saw girls with loose waves or straight hair, tossing their locks carelessly over their shoulders, or putting them into high, graceful ponytails, while I frantically battled with my unmanageable frizz every morning. Advertisements would only feature girls with fake curls, or straight hair (with the exception of the time that Keri Russell started on Felicity). I constantly asked my mother about getting a straight perm, using chemicals to dull my frizz, but she never conceded (partly due to expense, I’m sure). In essence, growing up, I learned very quickly that my hair was not socially the norm. I learned quickly that I would have very few ‘hair role models’, and that no matter the curly hair cream, my hair would stop responding to it eventually. I remember raking the bristle brush through my hair so hard, wanting it to break off, taking out all of my frustration on my strands. I remember crying and yelling at the mirror, hating my hair and wishing so hard that it would just be straight and pretty. At a time when most people feel ugly, I felt that I had absolutely nothing going for me in the looks department. Sure, I knew I was smart, and funny – but in a society that places so much emphasis on women’s appearances, that simply was not enough.
Fast forward through my gradual acceptance of my insane hair, in later high school and throughout university. It wasn’t until 3rd and 4th year in university that I began to realize some of my hair’s potential. I hadn’t started the Curly Girl Method yet; I simply rocked out the volume and began to get more and more compliments. As more curly-haired role models started to appear in the media, I began to feel a little more…cool. A little more…beautiful. I stopped fighting and started trying to understand, and embracing my hair genetics. My best friend, who I met in 4th year, constantly complimented my hair, making me feel extra awesome. He helped me see beauty where I thought there was none. Now, I love my hair; I am, admittedly, very vain of it. However, I feel like I deserve to be – after so many years of hating, pulling, stretching, and trying to tame it, it’s blossomed into something awesome and epic. When people talk about a hair journey, it really is just that – a journey to self-acceptance, a journey to a new way of viewing yourself and your hair. I’m still tweaking my routine and figuring out what my hair likes best – but now, I’m listening to my hair, instead of making it listen to me. And both my hair and I are happier for it.