I previously posted “Feel the Fear and Go Curly Anyway”, a five-step guide to help you embrace your naturally God-given hair. Following on from that, I appreciate it’s not so easy as 1,2,3 (4 and 5), and in doing so I wanted to share the twists and turns of my own journey to curls. It wasn’t easy and often riven with bad-hair days, chopping and changing my products and digs from my relatives back in Sri Lanka as well as here. But as you will read, once my attitude changed it became so much easier and fun! Anyway time to rewind back to circa 1983…
There I am, cute I know but the point is where is that curly mop? You see I only discovered my curls in my teens. Right from my baby years, Mum and Dad styled my hair according to the usual ways; they would use standard shampoos (No-No number 1), towel dry my hair (No-No number 2), and then blow dry it straight until every rebellious kink had disappeared (No-No number 3).
So I never saw the curls. Then, in those horrid pre-teen years when I took control of my styling, I struggled with my hair. I followed the routine my parents used, but my hair was thick knotty curls. Kids teased me at school, saying I should use a hairbrush. But that gave me a huge afro. All the Asian girls in school had long straight silky hair. In our culture that’s the beauty staple. I felt so ugly with my frizzy mop. I caved in and once my hair grew I went for the Nineties en vogue style: the Rachel haircut. That got me into the ‘in-crowd’ with my friends in awe.
But its maintenance drove me crazy. Endless blow drying followed by GHD hell, just so I could keep up with the straight-haired Jones’s. It added a good two hours to my regime which meant I had to get ready for a night out hours in advance! Add in the fact that it’s raining 90% of the time in the UK , any hard work straightening would go to waste as my curls would re-emerge, much to my embarrassment and frustration.
As my A-Levels came and went, I decided to give my curls a go. This was because I was about to embark on a gap year in Sri Lanka working at the Sunday Times. I figured with high levels of humidity, the thought of undergoing two hours of heat from hairdryers and straighteners just wasn’t my bag. I read magazines, and combed through the hair section in supermarkets looking for products that mentioned curls. Admittedly the only thing I spotted was John Frieda’s curl reviver mousse and serum. Any products that created “volume” also featured on my list. My then hairdresser didn’t have a clue about cutting curls. So I asked her to just wet cut my hair, keeping layers subtle to stay on the safe side and I would take care of the styling. It looked decent though comparisons to Rolf from the Muppets followed me wherever I went!
I stayed curly for about four years reserving straight hair for special occasions, or when I fancied a change for a night. I was indecisive those days trying to figure out what I wanted. I posted Facebook photos of me in both curly and straight hair asking friends to vote…it was 50/50. Then I started working for a British-Asian fashion magazine. Once again I was back at school surrounded by Asian girls with straight hair. Somehow my wild unruly curls didn’t match the image of the magazine and as its Features Editor I felt embarrassed that my curls looked too messy to pass myself off as a professional. So back I went and for the next four years I sported a short choppy bob, straightened of course.
Somehow my wild unruly curls didn’t match the image of the magazine and as its Features Editor I felt embarrassed that my curls looked too messy to pass myself off as a professional.
The final straw was another visit to the hairdresser who took one look at my hair and had a go at me for its withered condition- dry, breakable, riven with split ends. It shocked me so much because when she styled my curls hair way back, she complimented me on how good a condition it was in. The time for fitting in was no more; I decided the only person that needs to be cool with my hair is me. So I took the plunge to go curly. For good!
The time for fitting in was no more; I decided the only person that needs to be cool with my hair is me. So I took the plunge to go curly. For good!
That brings us to the present: I love my curls, and am dedicated to trying new things to keep them. My challenges now are 1) keeping the curls looking pristine for longer and 2) preventing hair fall. Since being diagnosed with Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome, my hair has thinned (common side effect) and my curls aren’t as rich as they once were. Resolved to love what has remained I am still open to trying new products, mixing up brands and reading up on ingredients. I never straighten my hair and haven’t brushed it nor used a hairdryer in years.
My main resources have been online Afro-Caribbean blogs (Naturally Curly is an American blog solely dedicated to curls from all cultures), and attending events hosted by Curlvolution a UK network of gorgeous curly girls. They also have an annual expo showcasing products for curl care as well as workshops to encourage us to embrace our natural hair. In the end do what’s comfortable for you. Then again I never found hiding the real me very comfortable anyway.