I have a mass of thick, tightly curled hair. If you’re reading this blog you’re probably also a lucky owner of a curly doo. I say ‘lucky’ but if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had times where it’s felt more like a curse. My own ‘curl journey’ for lack of a better term has definitely had its ups and downs.
One of my earliest memories is of me wriggling and crying whilst trying to get away from my mum as she tried to untangle and brush my unruly curls (yes, brush! If only my 4 year old self had known what I do now). There was my tomboy stage where I refused to have anything but cropped short ‘boys’ hair and would only agree to get it cut if my dad took me to a man’s barber shop. I’m not sure if the aforementioned daily brushing struggle was part of the reason for my extreme tomboy phase but having short hair certainly eased the crying fits. Of course there came a time when I wanted longer hair again and so started the long, terrible re-growth stage. I think it was the years that followed that probably scarred me the most and shaped the way I dealt with my hair for a long time to follow…
Basically the tighter your curls are, the more bounce you have to overcome. As curly hair grows, and it may grow quickly,the fact the hairs curl round and round instead of growing straight down means it doesn’t gain much length. So as I tried to grow my hair, deciding when I was about 10 that I wanted long girly hair like my friends, it didn’t happen as quickly as I hoped. I remember going to the hairdresser my family used and telling him that I wanted to grow my hair long and he told me that he didn’t think it would be possible. I went home and cried my wee eyes out. Awww. Of course on top of the fact it takes ages to grow curly hair there was also the problem that no hairdresser had the slightest clue how to cut my hair let alone what to do with it (I bet nearly all of you have had more bad hairdresser experiences than good – I’ll talk about good hairdressers/cuts at a later date). If a hairdresser doesn’t know how to cut curly hair and doesn’t take into account the ‘bounce’ factor, a ‘trim’ can easily leave you with an accidental big chop. Unfortunately this slow growth meant I was stuck with a horrendous frizzy mullet (as I was still brushing my hair back then) which took forever to progress past that horrible in between stage you get when growing a short hair cut out. Seriously, it was BAD. It had a centre parting. It still makes me cringe to the max even today.
Ha, I wore my hair like that for years! Years! I was asked hundreds of times how I got my hair like that and people stared and touched my hair all the time. Gradually over time I started to try my hair in different ways.. I got older… I grew into my skin…I got a bit more confident… I travelled… and as cheesy as it sounds meeting new people and being in big cities helped me accept my hair. Cities diverse with people and cultures, cities where nobody even notices if you walk down the street in your jammies let alone if you have curly hair! I mean I grew up in Edinburgh which is one of Scotland’s largest cities, but Scotland can be a wee place at times – when I was 26 I was sitting on a bus minding my own business when some teenagers started shouting and making fun of my hair. Seriously! They were shouting ‘Candy floss hair’ (which is a pretty poor insult really) and then shouting loudly “what are you laughing at” to one of the girls who was then like “I dunno, eh, some body’s hair!” whilst standing in front of me pointing. I was just sitting there dumbfounded thinking “how can this still be happening? I’m a real live adult for goodness sake!” Unbelievable.