Edit Desk: A love letter to my curly hair


When I was little, my mom and I used to have hair salon days. She would blow dry and straighten my hair for me, and I would feel like a princess.

Eventually though, feeling pretty and having straight hair became synonymous.

By elementary school, I had already learned how to straighten my hair. I’d pull out my flat iron, and flatten every single strand of my hair until it stuck straight down.

Even though I wasn’t doing it everyday, my dream for straight hair would start a vicious cycle that grew stronger with age. 

By middle school, my hair was straightened every single morning. Even on days when I was running late, my mom would help me before school while I ate breakfast. 

Not a morning went by without burning my hair off to make it look like something it wasn’t. 

And to be clear, I never had kinky curls. Instead, there were always loose waves that became more pronounced toward the bottom. Nobody would even know I had curly hair. 

In seventh grade, I remember all I wanted was for my hair to look like my friends: perfectly straight, without any effort. 

My mom could see I was frustrated, and after seeing the toll that constant straightening had on my hair, she agreed to let me get keratin: a chemical straightening treatment that makes your hair straighter for as long as six months. 

The whole process lasts about four hours. First, they would wash my hair and blow dry it, then they put the straightening chemicals in from my roots and down to my ends.

It was at this point that my eyes would begin to burn. I would wear sunglasses to try and ease the pain, but the stinging never stopped until the end. Even worse than that, the smell of the chemicals in my hair would burn my nose. But each time I’d tell myself it was all worth it. 

Anything for straight hair. 

I continued to get keratin treatments and straighten my hair for another three years.  But the burning in my eyes and nose became too great and I couldn’t take the pain any longer.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t want my hair straight. 

I wanted my curls. 

I wanted what I had, but I no longer had it. After years of chemicals and straightening, my hair was not the same. It would take time to get back the subtle curls that I had been trying so hard to get rid of. Now, I had to accept the consequences of my actions. 

I remember crying so much. I regretted what I had done to my hair, and vowed never to get keratin again.

And I stayed true to myself. Well, sort of.

The issue was now I didn’t know how to take care of my real hair. I never had anyone to teach me what products to use or how to style my hair to allow for my curls and waves to show. And while I don’t have super curly hair, I didn’t know the first thing about styling my hair when it wasn’t straight. 

As cringe-worthy as it might sound, with the help of TikTok, I started to learn more about my hair. I watched videos on products, brushes, microfiber towels, diffusing and oils that could keep my hair healthy and curly.  

This process of learning to love and accept my curls has not been linear, and it’s something that I’m still grappling with now. I still blow-dry and straighten it some days and I’ll still put it in a ponytail when I’m too lazy to style it. But I’m trying, and that’s all that matters.  

I stay motivated because I know I owe it to myself. I owe it to myself to love my curls, just the way they are. 

And I owe it to that little girl who sat through all those keratin treatments with a burning nose and watery eyes to show her how beautiful her hair is. I owe it to her to show that straight hair and pretty are not synonymous. 

To my hair, I’m sorry for hating you so much. I’m sorry for straightening you each day and burning you with chemicals. I hope you can accept me as I learn to love you. 

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