About a decade ago, I laid a stake in the ground — publicly — and embraced my curls. In fact, writing about my decision to stop straightening my hair was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog. While I have been known to blow out my hair occasionally in the wintertime, I have been getting curly cuts for over a decade. Therefore, it has pained me to hear Isabelle declare that she wishes she had “straight hair like everyone else” this school year. (Ah, sixth grade. The time when many kids start wishing they looked like anyone else.)
Saturday was a rainy day that kept us indoors. By nightfall, I offered Isabelle to straighten her hair. She was bored and agreed to sit for it — no matter how long it took.
52 minutes (i.e., three styling products, a hair dryer, and a flat iron) later, her hair was “straight.” It was straight, in that it wasn’t curly, but it didn’t look good. It was poofy since she was unable to tolerate the heat from the blow dryer close to her head. Her hair is WAY curlier than mine and I didn’t have the arm strength to do the job a professional stylist would do. To quote Ari, “You look like a lioness, Isabelle.”
As I was taming her curls, Isabelle saw how much work it took me… and how much time. She did NOT enjoy sitting in one place for that long. By the end, she decided a five to ten-minute investment in getting her curls to look polished was better than 52 minutes any day of the week.
But what hurts my mama’s heart the most is that Isabelle, despite my efforts for the past decade, still believes straight hair (i.e., straight blond hair, if you really press her) is better than what she has. While I know most of us would prefer hair that’s different than our own, I am concerned this comes from what’s valued as beautiful in our society. Like all parents, I want my child to believe that she, too, is beautiful especially if she doesn’t look like everyone else. Being confident in one’s own uniqueness is attractive.
But she’s in sixth grade. Perhaps that’s more than I can hope for. Maybe this will have to wait another decade…
13 thoughts on “Embracing Her Curls”
I know it’s hard, but you must have faith that the seeds you’ve planted and the example you’ve set will take root. Isabelle will grow to love her hair. I bet it won’t be long before other girls start saying they want hair like Isabelle’s. As a child I envied my sister’s gorgeous curly hair.
I wish I had those curls! I know this day will come for my own daughters. I knew it from the day they were born…that’s why I always remind them how amazing their curls are. We straightened Wren’s hair when she was younger for Halloween…she also had a lioness look! But she cried because she didn’t look like herself. Sending a hug. These tween years aren’t easy. I agree with Glenda. Someday, she will embrace here curls…just like you!
As I read this, the video of Hair Love came to mind. I love that part where the hair is personified and hence, why it took 50 minutes for you to tame those curls. It does seem to be a long road to confidently accepting the gifts we are given.
My post this week connects to Isabelle’s hair identity problem! I too am a curly girl and I longed for my childhood friend’s long STRAIGHT chestnut hair so much so that when I was in graduate school, I created a macrame sculpture of her hair! Eventually, I learned to lean into my curls – but still if I wish – just for one day – to have long STRAIGHT hair that I could toss around for everyone to admire. I think it’s only human !
It’s so fascinating how we want what we don’t have. . . .
You’ve ended this piece with hope, which is my favorite type of conclusion. Disliking one’s hair has to be universal, too. I remember my dad calling me Mop Top. I’d much rather be a lioness. That noun is very empowering.
Dear Momma, (AKA Stacey)
Trust me, she will transition to a time that values individuality. When will that be? I’m guessing maybe high school but for sure college. It’s tough for the kids nowadays with social media. When I was growing up we just imagined, or thought we didn’t fit in, or muster up. Nowadays with social media its a strong visual- 24/7. They know they don’t AND they know the yardstick that is being used. One of the hardest things of being a mom is letting them be hurt. I don’t mean standing by and doing nothing. I mean accepting the situation for what it is. BTW I blew dry my hair and used straightners till college. My hair would give Janis Joplin’s a run for her money. I have since embraced my “inner curly,” as well. Loved your share and pix of her long locks.
Over the last 2.5 years, I have embraced, ever so slowly, my naturally gray hair. I think it makes me look old and I am still silently jealous of those who braved the pandemic to keep up the look of youth. Yet, it is easier and embraces the real me rather than the look of others who embrace youthfulness.
Like Isabella, I year for hair that is not my own, even if I embrace what I have.
Perhaps that is the best most of us can do.
Oh Stacey. I FEEL this. I WAS that kid growing up. All of the teasing I got, all of the envy I had for hair that you could swing, or play with, or not have to fight every day. I FEEL this.
All of the stuff I tried, from lye relaxers to actual PERMS to curling irons and hair dryers and diffusers and creams and gels, and OH. ALL of it.
Suffice it to say, I’m here to offer solidarity. This motherhood thing is tough sometimes, and mothering through stuff like this is EXTRA hard.
You’re doing a great job, mama ❤
I’m sure SURE you’ve planted the seeds for her to embrace her curls. Curls are a pain to deal with so maybe that’s what she’s reacting to? Hard to say. My CC has amazing curls and her hair has a mind of it’s own. She always wants is blue or pink. Like you, I agreed to straighten it one day, and she never asked again. I’m not worried about hair at our house. Instead were dealing with a lot of other 6th grade issues: teeth not straight enough, earrings not fancy enough, not allowed to wear makeup…
Grade 6 really is hard!
I had to read this because yes, I have always wished my hair was more like other peoples! But reading it I am just nodding my head — 6th grade is hard, and the pressures once they start… well.. it’s tough. But she has such a great role model in you. That counts for a LOT
I am impressed with your efforts – both in embracing your own (gorgeous) curls and in helping Isabelle. It’s frustrating how many girls hate their appearance & want to look like others. Here’s hoping that your modeling of hair love will sink in over time. As you said, so many people want someone else’s hair.
Thank you all for your supportive comments!