It’s not hard to spot my daughter among the gaggle of little girls in gymnastics class. In a sea of ponytails, braids, and straight hair, my daughter’s curly mop stands out in the crowd. And she loves it.
I grew up with a head full of curls, and I hated it. Back in the day my hair straightener was my BFF. Somehow, despite all the heat styling and products (and years of competitive swimming), my hair remained relatively healthy. So it never occurred to me to stop straightening. Then one day, when my oldest was about 5 months old, I realized how much time I was wasting straightening my hair, just to throw it in a ponytail after a few hours since it went flat or frizzy.
So on that snowy March day I vowed to embrace my curls and rock what my mama gave me.
I’m glad I made that decision, because my daughter has a head of blonde curls that turns heads. And she loves it. She loves to put different headbands in her hair and try wearing it in fun ways. She loves letting people “boing” her curls, and she definitely loves having her hair done. Together, we dove into the world of curly hair, and have learned how to make the “Curly Girl Method” work for us. In a nutshell:
- Avoid sulfates and silicones in our products.
- No brushing!
- Use a microfiber towel or T-shirt to dry our hair.
- Find the right products.
- Conditioner. Tons of it. We even wash our hair with it.
- Keep our hands off the curls while they are drying.
There is a lot of science and logic behind this method, which I’m not going to bore you with. I will say that through trial and error, we have both learned to appreciate our different curls and wear them with pride. But why is this so important?
I certainly don’t think my daughter’s self-worth is tied to her hair. Nor do I think appearances are that crucial. But we are in a time where the standards of beauty are all around us, and even my 4-year-old is not immune. As much as I try to shield her, she is bombarded constantly with images of what is objectively beautiful. She may interpret them differently than an adult and simply see a pretty picture, but those messages are already making an impression on her.
I want my daughter to love her curls. I want her to be who she is authentically and fiercely. And I want her strong sense of self to stay with her throughout her life. Perhaps her curls will go away one day. Or she’ll make the decision on her own to straighten them. I can’t control that. But right now I can control letting her be herself, even if she doesn’t realize it. By encouraging her to rock her hair as it is, I hope I am setting her up for a lifetime of confidence. It may not be much, but I think it’s a good start.