By thespanglishmommy on October 16, 2009
It's taken me so long to love my curly hair… Actually I'm not quite there yet--I don't love it, but I do like it a lot more than when I was growing up. As a child I was surrounded by people who told me that I had "bad" hair. They said that I inherited my father's "bad" hair. I would often hear "that poor girl, with a mother who has such beautiful hair she ends up with her father's bad hair".
I have a vivid memory of being about seven years old and watching a Pantene commercial on TV. The models had such beautiful, shiny, straight, GOOD hair. I asked my mom to PLEEEEEEASE buy me that shampoo so that my hair can get good like theirs. You would think that my mother, who is such a loving and caring mom, would seize the opportunity to build up my self-esteem and let me know that there's no such thing as "good and bad" hair. That was the perfect moment to say "honey, your hair IS good, it's beautiful and curly, I love it". But instead she said (and in a rather sad, apologetic tone) "oh honey those girls were born with good hair, it's not the shampoo that makes it good". She sounded sooooo incredibly sorry, like she also WISHED I had good hair so that she wouldn’t have to spend hours and hours trying to tame it. I was crushed. I was sad to learn that I would be forever stuck with my bad hair. I wonder how a different response would have changed my self-perception. How many flat iron burn marks could have been prevented!
I can't remember when I started embracing my curls and giving the flat iron a break, but slowly I did start feeling better about my curly locks. I also resented the fact that I was raised envying girls with straight hair and feeling inferior to them in some way and I vowed that if I ever had a daughter I would make her feel good about her natural curls. When my daughter was born three years ago, I knew that she would have curly hair and I was determined to shield her from all those "curly hair haters". I made sure that everyone knew that negative talk about any hair type was unacceptable.
For now my daughter does seem to like her curls but she has developed an obsession with the video on YouTube of Alicia Keys singing "No One" at the inaugural ball. EVERY SINGLE TIME after seeing the video she asks me to flat iron her hair… Maybe I should start playing some 'Shakira' or something… But then she may start shaking her hips like her—don't think I want that from my three-year-old. Decisions, decisions…