Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The "Right" Kind of Curl (Repost)

**This deserves a re-post due to an interesting conversation today about natural hair and the lengths we go sometimes to make sure it's still "accepted" before accepting it ourselves.***

Even with natural hair becoming more popular these days, there is still a long way to go to define what institutes as "curly hair" or "good hair." When mainstream people think of curls, they are thinking of specific images.

I still wonder sometimes if I have the "right kind" of curls. I'm guessing not because they aren't big springing ringlets, but at the same time I've been told by folks of different cultures and walks of life that my hair is just right for me. People may admire the hair, but I raise my eyebrow whenever someone, especially a non-person of color says, wow I wish I had your hair. It always makes me think back to a girl I knew in high school who was Italian and Puerto Rican. She was really frustrated with her hair because it was tightly coiled and thick and if I remember correctly her hair had the same curl pattern as mine. I remember her venting to me once that she hated how it shrank, how it was difficult to manage and how she wasn't supposed to have this hair--that my hair was okay and looked cool for me but not on her because she was white and she's supposed to have "white people hair." Eventually she got a relaxer and she loved it. To this day she still gets them and keeps her hair straight. It's okay to admire, but if want to get my hair, you'll have to get the baggage that comes along with it!

I remember in college another girl, Hispanic, mentioned how envious she was of folks with curls. She had straight hair on the coarse side and when she said this I smiled and said really? Yeah she said. Like the big bouncy beautiful curls, big spirals. My smile faded. I realized she wasn't talking about having hair like mine. Because curls like mine aren't desired really, right? They are a nice splash to fashion maybe but in the end when folks think of curls they again, are only thinking about a specific images.

I spoke to others about this more in college, by accident. Two women, both hispanic--one Cuban and Puerto Rican the other Ecuadorian and Puerto Rican--were transitioning out of relaxers. I thought I didn't have the right kind of hair, I'm hispanic hello! one of them told me. My cousins had the proper hair and I had the kinky morena thing going on, so relaxer was the solution. But now I'm just gonna let this grow out and cut little by little because I have nice curly hair, just different. During down time, besides discussing projects (and playing the SIMS lol) we discussed braid outs and twist outs and shampoos and conditioners. They liked my hair, and understood it, and we bonded over the fact that we didn't have the "right kind" of curls.

I guess in conclusion what I'm trying to stress is that approval really is pointless to seek in others. No one can love your hair for you. You have to love your hair for yourself and not other people. Compliments can be really great and make you feel good, but that cannot be the base of your relationship with your natural curls/kinks/coils.


  1. Ha, the right kind of curl eludes me. I have had soon many conversations with women about this topic and have decided I don't have the mental stamina to deal with people who really don't like their hair. I love my hair just the way it is.

  2. this was a great post! i could really relate to what was being said. when people say curly, they are most definitely thinking big, loose, wavy curls - not the kinky, coily afros most of us have been given.

    i have to admit, i kind of roll my eyes or laugh when i hear people complain of their "curly hair woes," when their big spirals have nothing on our abundant kinks!


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