A lot of people in Malta with even a hint of a curl just straighten their hair. They’ve become slaves to the professional blow drier, straightening serums, tongs and chemical relaxers. I’ve had fellow nationals asking me if I’ve ever straightened my hair as if it were a societal obligation, only to look at me in awe when I reply “only once”.
I’ve only straightened it once, out of curiosity I guess. However, I didn’t look like myself and I felt that I lost a part of my identity without my curls. I had tried it ages ago when my friends had got a climper at school. I just saw somebody else in the mirror.
There have actually been other people, but most especially foreigners, who’ve looked at my hair as if it were pure gold, and their need to touch it and ask questions about it just amazed me. What is this love-hate relationship with curls?
In Ancient Greece, curly hair was the height of beauty. The statues of gods and goddesses were created with perfect bodies and perfect ringlets to match. Further down the timeline, curls were also very popular in the 1950s, and the poodle haircut was the best way to show them off. During the 60s and 70s, the “black is beautiful” movement gave rise to naturally textured hairstyles, including the Afro. This was, in a way, a political statement and a rejection of straightening the hair to conform to white beauty standards. In the 1980s, the bigger the curls, the better.
Believe me, caring for curly hair can sometimes feel like a chore. There are times when life seems to be put at a halt on wash days. I sometimes dread it with a passion, but once I finish the battle against a few tangles, finishing put mousse on it, I feel relieved. The good thing about curls is that I only brush it when I wash it. In the morning I just let my hair loose and I am out. Split ends tend to be less noticeable in curly hair. Curly hair can be versatile as you can wear your hair in many different styles and it looks good with accessories like beanies, headbands and head wraps. It’s far from boring. I don’t have to wash it too often but I do tend to use a lot of conditioner and mousse. Curly hair has been associated with a wilder personality.
Curly hair can make you feel too hot in summer although in winter it can keep the nape of your neck warm. Getting your hair dry in winter can seem like a mission impossible task. There were also instances when I actually pulled plants with my hair to the amazement of those around me. Curly hair can make you easy to spot in a crowd. You could be lost in a crowd and your friends will still be able to find you. Another thing is that I still seem to have the exact same amount of hair despite collecting what looks like a small bird’s nest from my scalp every time I wash it. The only place you can brush your curly hair is basically in the shower because if you try to do that after when it is dry, I guarantee that all you will see in the mirror is what seems to be the sun in all its glory. Curly hair can be prone to dryness so it is important to use moisturising products to keep your curls smooth and bouncy.
I do not have any special preference for any kind of hair, but I think it is wise to embrace whatever you are blessed with, be it staight, wavy or curly hair. At times change is good but I feel that forgetting your roots is like losing a part of your identity. Sometimes I see women grimace at the very hint of a wave in their hair. They don’t realise how beautiful they look with that bounce; that shine of natural waves and curls. If only they could feel it too! I am a firm believer that one should forget what is in vogue and what isn’t and what people will like or won’t. Ultimately your hair will like you more if you don’t keep changing its personality!