Curly hair is a pretty weird phenomenon. And I don’t mean wavy or tousled, I’m talking about the corkscrew, boing-worthy, Shirley Temple-type of curly hair. I have a head full of it and I still have a hard time figuring out how exactly it works! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my curls — they are fun and unique and it can be a really cool party trick to stick a pencil up one of the rotini pasta impersonators, but they also have a mind of their own. They can switch from voluptuous to looking like a yield sign in a mere matter of minutes.
I’m sure I am not alone in noticing that in addition to attracting a lot of frizz, curly hair also tends to attract a lot of attention. I would like to think that it is my dazzling personality that people gravitate too, but alas, 9 times out of 10 it is more about the mane. While I do my best to appease the curiosity, the same questions/comments/accusations-of-perms do tend to get somewhat old. So on behalf of my fellow coiled crusaders, I’ve compiled a list of a few remarks and questions that we curly kids hear the most. I’ve also included some appropriate responses. Hopefully this will provide some insight into our world and proactively appease some of those inquiring minds out there.
1. “Did you know there’s something stuck in your hair?” The answer to this is always going to be no, so don’t even bother asking us; simply pull us aside for a minute or, better yet, trust that it will work itself out. Things get lost in my mane all the time and I don’t know about it until a kindred spirit quietly removes it, or it winds up on my pillow. I’m not proud of it, and I promise I value personal hygiene, but it never ceases to be embarrassing if you draw attention to it.
2. “You have hair all over your back!” Probably the biggest downside of being curly-haired is the fact that we shed. All the time. I had a maintenance man once tell me that I “must be bald by now with the amount of hair stuck in the drain” (direct quote, I can provide witnesses if need be). I promise it’s more annoying for me than it is for you – unless you ask my boyfriend. His bed has never been the same…
3. “Did you get a perm?” Nope. Au natural. And again, I’m not bashing the perm process in the slightest, but just because my hair makes people want to eat curly fries, it does NOT mean I got a perm! I don’t mind the initial question, but once I give you my answer, just accept it. Please.
4. “Can I borrow your hair tie?” Unfortunately, this answer is also going to be no. If I could sacrifice it, I would, and I always feel bad saying no. But try and understand that with the wrong gust of wind or change in temperature, vision can be blocked and you’ll end up with my hair in your lunch if I have no means to tame it. A straight-haired person’s hair tie is a curly-haired person’s stone-walled fortress.
5. “Your hair is still wet – need to borrow my blow dryer?” For a mane like mind to be 100% dry, it takes about an hour and a half. And while diffusers can somewhat help the cause, blow dryers are completely out of the question. The last time I chose to use a blow dryer on my hair was when I dressed as Scary Spice for Halloween, and the results were great—for the costume. But other than using one to create big, massive hair, blow dryers are our form of kryptonite.
6. “I think it looks better straight.” I get this comment at LEAST once every time I straighten my hair, which is not often at all, and it really tends to suck out my curly mojo. Even if you think it, keep it to yourself! Or whisper it to one of my best friends so they can glare at you and set you straight. I like to think that my curls mirror my personality—large, unconventional, and all over the place—and so getting rid of them for good just ain’t gonna happen.
7. “Can I pull one of the curls?” Don’t ask us this. Just do it, get it out of your system, admire the boingy backlash, and move on with your day. I totally understand the need to do it—my ringlets serve as great distractions when my attention problems kick in—but I always feel a little creepy actually giving people permission for a gentle tug. So just pick your curl of choice and pull!
8. “Is it humid outside?” No need to even ask, just look at the halo of frizz following me around. A good rule of thumb is the bigger the ‘fro, the more humid it is; I can practically feel my hair expand in certain conditions. I like to consider my curls somewhat of a built in weather predictor, and after 24 years I am confident in saying we are ridiculously accurate, so please feel free to use my hair as an on-the-go weather update.
We may shed a lot and refuse to share our hair ties and bobby pins, but I promise that my curly-haired comrades and I mean well. So on behalf of all the ringlets out there, I encourage everyone to embrace the curls, accept the curls, and love the curls. We’re going to get stuck to you once we give you a hug anyway.
Olivia Alford is a 24 year old Arlington, Virginia resident. She currently works in software sales and uses writing as the “creative outlet” that her mom tells her is important. She enjoys celebrity gossip, all things barbeque, and the fact that her curly hair is au naturale. You can find her on Twitter @OliviaAlford (if you promise not to be overwhelmed by that creativity).