The Plights of Curly Hair

Janis: Gretchen Wieners knows everybody’s business. She knows everything about everyone.

Damian: That’s why her hair is so big; it’s full of secrets.

Mean Girls (2004)

The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s own and do not reflect the views and experiences of all people with naturally curly hair. Please be advised to remember that curly-haired persons face unique challenges associated with their hair on a daily basis.


I spent half my childhood crying whenever anyone brushed my hair. Thus began the longest love-hate relationship of my life.

There are many things in this world I’ll never understand: astrophysics; quantum mechanics; why Stewart is still a character on the Big Bang Theory; and the precise temperature, wind conditions, and humidity that distinguish a bad hair day from a great hair day. I’ve had days where I’ve left home with nice curls and returned looking like Monica Gellar vacationing in Barbados, my hair 3 times its original size. To misquote Mr. Gump: “Curly hair is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.”

While I can’t control the weather, I have always thought I could tame my hair. I have tried out easily 8,148 shampoos, gels, and mousses, all in the hopes of achieving the perfect curl: soft and defined, but not frizzy or poofy, nor frozen in place using gel. However, most of these efforts have proven that my hair is a separate being, with a mind of its own. It likes being washed in the morning, brushed sweetly, then have the whole day to transform into a curly whirlwind, terrorizing half the county.

And if there’s one thing my hair hates, it’s being brushed dry. In cosmetology schools, it is standard practice to teach aspiring hairdressers to sacrifice a goat every time they brush curly hair when it’s dry to atone for their sins. This is in large part because once you commit the awful deed, your hair loses all self-constraint and grows tenfold in width. In case you don’t believe me, look at what happened to my poor niece when she had to brush her hair dry. Her gorgeous locks ruined, and in anger, her hair took over. I can’t even make out her face anymore….


*Sacrificial goat not pictured

Of course, that’s probably due to the fact that she’s facing the other way. The point is curly hair is a beast, to be equally parts admired yet feared.

I say all this because my last trip to the hair salon could have ended better. For starters, I always feel a tad guilty when I go cut my hair. As soon as the hairdresser starts washing my hair, I get comments like “Wow!! I wish I had such thick, curly hair.” This undoubtedly sets off feelings of shame, since up to this point, I was most likely contemplating how to ask them to just shave my head.

Anyways, the usual lady I go to wasn’t there, and since I was pressed for time, I went with a newbie. First mistake. I carefully described how I wanted my hair cut. I’m a natural risk taker so I like to have my hair about shoulder-length. Length and cut are big factors with curly hair. A few centimeters would make all the difference between having a glorious mane versus becoming a viral meme (and not in a good way). 

She cut my hair a tad shorter then I would’ve liked, but I knew it would be fine. That’s when it happened. She put some leave-in conditioner in my hair then pulled out the hair dryer. I assumed she was going to use a diffuser (or as I privately called them as a child—“a scalp burner”) to dry my hair. I was wrong. So wrong.

Instead, she started blow-drying and teasing chunks of my hair with her hands. I’m watching this, now wondering if she didn’t use leave-in conditioner and instead, had used some sort of magical elixir that would prevent my hair from getting some crazy volume. It was all over before I could stop her. I had walked in a human, but I was leaving a poodle. My hair looked like blob, equally wide and long, growing every which way by the minute. Long story short, she did get the cut right. She just completely failed at styling my hair. Thankfully, I was fine once I took a shower and washed away the horror.

Her training obviously did not include any goats.


I don’t want you to walk away from this post thinking I hate my hair, because I really don’t. Every now and then, there are nice hair days, when my curls look all pretty. On such days, I wonder why I ever wanted to shave my head…





6 thoughts on “The Plights of Curly Hair

  1. My mom had very curly hair and for the most part liked it, but she had days. I always regretted missing out on the naturally curly gene, but I guess we always want what we don’t have. 😉

  2. This past weekend, I left my stylist with a healthy respect/fear of middle-aged women with long love-hate relationships with their hair. Going to a new salon or stylist is like visiting a confessional, I think. They have to learn all the sordid secrets of the forty-jillion cowlicks on my head. I’m afraid to return because I don’t want to see their faces freeze trying to hold a smile as I approach.

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