on being curly

curly girl

{I swiped this pic from Google. Not me. But pretty much exactly my hair at this age. I just didn’t want to hunt down my own pic. See point #2 below.}

The other day a friend asked if I loved my hair. Hmmmm, I thought. Then I realized, “I do!” And I don’t just mean in a compulsory-contentment sense, you know, compared to being bald or something. {Though come to think of it, that may not be all that bad.}

I saw my life of hair phases flash before my eyes, and coming slowly to rest on today, up in a fluffy, bun thing. Curls flung and frizz flying. And I realized something else: curls helped shape me! Sure my parents and I have saved countless dollars through the years, without all those perms and all, and I spend relatively few minutes getting ready for the day. But I think having unconventional hair has made me who I am today.

So, here it is: What I’ve learned as a curly girl…and I suspect what other females with spiral tendrils have, too.

1. Curly Girls learn to take a compliment.

You know those sweet older ladies in department stores that have little regard for personal space? A lot of those ladies touched my hair through the years and said, “Darlin’, you have the most beautiful hair. I bet you hear that all the time.” Whether it was true or not, or I agreed or not, I decided to just smile and say, “Thank you.” I mean really, what a pleasant thing–to be seen. Especially as an introverted, gangly tween. Why argue with sweet old ladies? Take a compliment. It’s simpler than a rebuttal. And in a subtle way, a compliment in itself to the giver–that they would take notice and make the effort to say something that is appreciated.

Later on in Foley’s when that well-meaning lady in the jogging suit with the backhanded compliment asked, “Aren’t you glad curls are in these days?” I could genuinely answer,” I sure am!” That was roundabouts 1989. And can I get a witness from my other curly compadres? Volume with the perm look was finally a blessing in the late 80’s/early 90’s. But that was only for a millisecond because “The Rachel” was just around the corner. Which leads me to my next point.

2. Curly Girls learn to let it go.

Do you remember the feathered locks of the early 80’s? Yeah, that wasn’t happening for me. No matter how many brush strokes or runs of Aqua Net, the finger-layered wings were not to be. I remember burning myself using my Mom’s curling iron to try to straighten my hair. I was seven. I wanted Different Strokes or Facts of Life hair. Or at least when I pulled my hair into a pony-tail, no bumps! And don’t get me started on swim hair.{whine}

Being the mostly low-maintenance {a nice way of saying lazy} person I am, I learned to adapt. I despise futility, and I love sleep. So spending hours and hours straightening, re-curling, and so forth is simply not an option. I decided perfection is a futile goal. Hair, or otherwise. Just go with the flow baby.

3. Curly Girls can be a little crazy.

I really think Curly Girls have more fun. You kinda learn, as a red-headed, frizzy-fro girl with glasses, AND freckles, that well, you’re different. And when you have very loving parents that admire you and delight in your distinctness, you learn that different is ok. And then, at the first Middle School dance {who am I kidding—I’m still this way} — I pop out at parties. Completely unaided by any type of beverage. Like this weird thing happens inside where at times, I really don’t care what people think of me {in a healthy, free-spirited way}. I embody that adage: Dance as though no one is watching. Love as though you’ve never been hurt. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth.


{it’s on my fridge}

I like keeping people guessing, or occasionally raising their eye brows. You need someone to come up with a cheesy slogan? I’m your girl. Start the conga line? You know who to call. I may turn “as red as my hair,” but that just shows, I’m embracing the moment–even if I feel a little bashful about it. I have curls to thank for that. Mostly.

4. Curly girls know there’s more to life than good looks.

Sure I like to look cute, and want to be beautiful. And also, I want to go SO much deeper. I just know there’s more to you than your looks. I know you, too, have been shaped by your skin…or hair. I want to hear about it. I especially like quirky people.

What do you know, I fell in love with a curly guy. He dances with me at weddings and talks in funny voices.


{Us. In the early years with rasberry puree he made for the cheesecake he made me on the very last day of college classes.}

So there you go. It’s easy to find all the things we wish we could change about ourselves. Maybe more of the things out of our control that seem like a burden, are actually a gift. I’m glad I had a friend who asked a question in a way that made it ok to love something about myself. So I’ll ask you. What is something you love about you?


4 thoughts on “on being curly

  1. I love being short! It’s great to be able to sneak around and fit into small spaces unnoticed. Yeah, it’s a pain when you need to reach something up high, but it’s kind of fun to ask my tall, handsome husband to help me out when necessary. I appreciate how your entry asked us to respond with something we LOVE about ourselves. I had to think a minute on this. For most of us women, we have a ready answer concerning what we hate or what we would change about ourselves.

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