My thick, curly hair has always been a big part of my identity. I was blessed with these curls by my Egyptian father. I remember eating out at restaurants as a young child and being called Shirley Temple because of my curls. Another vivid memory is of my grandmother sneaking into the bathroom as I took a bath to patiently and gently help me untangle my hair with half a bottle of conditioner on my head. She worked slowly and consistently so as not to hurt me.

When I was old enough to take care of my own hair, I often didn’t. I remember on one family vacation, I left my hair up in a hair tie for so long without brushing it that when I removed the hair tie my hair stayed in place! My mother immediately took me to a hair salon to cut my hair, but the stylist patiently combed it out over the next few hours. I was, needless to say, more careful after that.

I also had some memorable haircuts, such as when I got bangs in middle school. The hairstylist blow dried them out at the salon, but when I showered and the bangs curled up, it was a different story. I also thought it would be a good idea in college to shave off all of my hair. I donated my hair to an organization called Locks of Love, which makes wigs for kids that have cancer. I actually enjoyed the low maintenance look, and the varying lengths of hair as my hair grew back out, but my mother was less than pleased.

Five years later my hair was long and curly as ever. I decided to let it grow and enjoyed having long hair again. On a trip to visit relatives in Turkey, the hairstylist I visited offered to blow dry my hair straight. I’d never done this before so was intrigued by the possibility of having straight hair, and agreed.  When the three hairstylists were finally done and I looked in the mirror, I hardly recognized myself. What I do remember is that I kept brushing my hair for the rest of the day, as I could never do that with my curly hair. Even though I enjoyed having straight hair and looking completely different, I didn’t feel like myself without my big curls, so going back to them a couple of days later was fine with me.

I did have straight hair envy as a child, but when I finally learned how to take care of my own hair I embraced the curls. I always received compliments on my curls and finally started to agree with them and accept these compliments with gratitude.

I let my hair grow out for several more years and they were as long as they have ever been when I got married in Zanzibar last year. I felt beautiful having long, curly hair with a flower crown on my wedding day.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved away from using too many hair products and keep it simple and natural. My go-to conditioner is coconut oil and I use a wide toothed comb to untangle my hair, about once a week. I think that it’s important to be aware of what we are using on our hair and to use natural products rather than chemicals. I also love to incorporate weekly self-care rituals to remind myself to focus on how I feel rather than being overly concerned with how I look. That’s my message: love your curls and love yourself!

 


Christine is a social media manager working with the PuffCuff on all things social. She (finally) loves her naturally curly hair and encouraging others to love themselves as they are too.