Natural Hair Movement : How I'm learning to stop worrying and love my curls
I’ve spent most of my life wishing for straight hair. Genetics gave me natural curls though, and I don’t mean a glorious mane of luscious ringlets or perfectly tousled waves. No, I mean frizz-prone tangles that lie funny, go flat in weird places, and cooperate so rarely that if I have a good hair day, I embrace the "selfie or it didn’t happen" rule. Meanwhile the wows I get when I share a straight-hair selfie make me feel worse about the ‘status curl.’
I fought the mess every day through college and for years after, through a hairdresser who told me I “just have bad hair” and a boss whose response when I tried going natural was to tell me to straighten my hair for work (I fired the hairdresser and quit the job).
But it was Louisville, Kentucky’s year-round humidity that finally made me hang up my flattening iron. I just let it do what it would and wore ponytails on bad days.
Curls, curls everywhere
Meanwhile I noticed something. Friends in real life and people I follow on Instagram were suddenly showing up with curly hair. Some were women I’d known for years with straight hair who were now rocking curls.
A hairdresser once told McMahan she "just has bad hair."Dana McMahan
Was it just me, or were curls having a moment? I checked in with Alexandra Wilson, editorial director of naturallycurly.com , to get the state of the curls (and suss out some tips for people at any stage of their curl journey), and chatted with freelance writer and editor Vidya Rao, one of those Instagram friends who popped up with gorgeous curls one day.
And? It’s not just a moment, Wilson said. “This is really happening. You say a moment and I think of it as a movement.” It even transcends that, she said. “I think it’s a lifestyle.”
We’ve come a long way, baby
The Naturally Curly platform was created 20 years ago, Wilson said, and “it seems crazy now that at the time it was like ‘she’s wearing her natural curls and doing something revolutionary,’” she said, when “I’m just wearing my hair the way it comes out of my head.”'
Alexandra Wilson says the curly hair movement is happening because "we're not fighting who we are, we're learning to take care of it."Courtesy of NaturallyCurly.com
But why did it seem like such a big deal to go curly? “I think that stems from how many decades we were shown this image of what beauty looks like,” Wilson said. “Me, I am biracial, l have tan skin and curly hair and growing up all I saw in the media was white women with blonde hair, blue eyes, and straight beautiful hair. It was sleek, it was shiny, it had a little wave but it wasn’t curly ... For so long we were told we have to wear our hair straight and be someone we weren’t and conform to these beauty standards that didn’t align with who we are as people and as women.”
We all got tired of fighting our hair. The struggle of waking up and saying 'what am I going to do with my hair today'?