My Journey to Becoming A Curl Junkie
“I love your hair! How did you get it to be like that?” “Yass, girl! Love your hair!” Those are the some of the many comments I currently received about my curly locks. As much as I love my hair, it wasn’t always the case.
I used to hate having a head full of thick curly hair. It started in Pre-K when my mother styled my hair into a high bun, I actually liked it – until my classmates started to point at my head saying “it looks like bird’s nest!” and laugh uncontrollably. It was then when I became ashamed of my curly hair. In the 6th grade, I remember crying in the bathroom, aggressively brushing my hair trying to get it to lay flat like the girls with straight or loose waves. My father, on the other hand, loved my hair. Even to this day, he would talk with pride about how much hair I had. Women would continuously tell him “you need to relax her hair”, and my father would always refuse.
At the time, I didn’t know what a relaxer was, but I figured it was better than having to deal with my unruly curls. After begging for a relaxer, my father compromised by taking me to Dominican Salons to get my hair blown out. I felt like a completely different person after each visit. I felt beautiful. I received compliments on how long and silky my hair was, and the best part was I didn’t have to spend time trying to style it in the morning.
One summer I went to Puerto Rico to visit my family and I didn’t straighten my hair because I knew I’d be in the water. When I got there my grandmother told me she would put a relaxer in my hair to make my hair permanently straight. I was so excited. I sat between her legs while she applied a white creamy substance to my hair. She barely got through half of my hair when I started to complain about my scalp burning. She explained I had to wait until she was finished. When I was finally able to rinse my head, large strands of hair fell out, but I wasn’t too concerned, I was happy to have straight hair.
As you can imagine, when I got back to New York my parents were furious that my grandmother would do such a thing without their consent. I had major breakage, patches of hair missing and scabbing on my scalp. I continued to get blowouts while slowly cutting my hair. I did this throughout the rest of middle school and into high school because while I had damaged hair I still felt beautiful knowing it was straight.
I started to embrace my curls and transition back to natural during my college career. At this point, I was tired of sitting under hot dryers every weekend and I noticed my hair started looking straw-like and thin. I didn’t care about having long luxurious straight hair anymore, I just wanted it to be healthy. My father took me to a nearby CVS to get curly hair products but I couldn’t find anything that tailored to my needs. A woman nearby heard me expressing my concerns and gave me a piece of paper with the name “Mixed Chicks”. I went home that day and typed Mixed Chicks into Google and stumbled upon the world of YouTube. It was there where I found women who looked like me reviewing curly hair products and giving hair styling advice. I had struck gold.
I became a “curl junkie”, purchasing hair products and supplements every week to nurse my locks back to health. I did research, read books, and watched countless YouTube videos on caring for my curly hair. I even changed my diet with hopes it would reflect in my hair. While my hair grew and my curls finally starting to flourish, I was still embarrassed to let it out, and always kept it in a tight bun. I thought maybe if I had my hair shaped it would increase my confidence to wear my hair out. I found a hair stylist on Instagram who specializes in curly hair textures and made an appointment for a haircut. When I left the salon, I felt like a new woman, (cue Beyonce’s “Grown Woman” song). I felt amazing, and absolutely loved my hair. Since then I’ve never hesitated to wear my hair out, whether it was big and frizzy or defined.
My hair journey still isn't a smooth one. There are times when I succumb to the blow-dryer and flat iron for convenience, or when I feel I need a break from my curls. But through my journey, I’ve learned to love what I’ve been blessed with, regardless of who’s feelin’ it or not.
Written By Stephanie Joseph
New York, New York
Customer Service Rep.