Hi, my name is Chrissie and I’m a hair straightener-aholic. As in, addicted to my hair straightener. Or at least, I used to be. My journey to feeling comfortable with curly hair was a long and uneasy one.
I’m in my mid-30s and I’ve been regularly straightening my hair since I was a teenager. Ever since I was a little girl, I thought the girls with straight hair were the “pretty girls”. I thought my own “not curly but not straight, mostly frizzy” hair was the worst. Think Hermione from Harry Potter.
Granted, I knew nothing about taking care of my curls. But I also never even tried to tame my mane! I just used a lot of damaging heat and made my hair straight as often as possible.
FIRST CAME THE DREADS…
Let’s take a step back in time for a minute and lookat how my hair has always reflected what’s going on inside. The summer between my junior and senior year of high school, I got dreadlocks. Like, real dreadlocks that were permanent until I wanted to take drastic measures to get them out. Why did I do this? Because I wanted a change. Because I wanted to look cool. Because I wanted to be just like my best friend at the time, who I thought was amazing. Just like straightening my hair, getting those dreadlocks was an attempt to be someone other than my true self. I wasn’t comfortable with myself, (though who is at 17…), and my hair seemed like a great place to start becoming someone else.
The dreads came out less than a year later and the hair straightening resumed.
Fast forward about 8 years, when my husband and I moved to New Mexico, and I attempted letting my natural curly hair loose. The lack of humidity made it MUCH easier. Frizz has always been my biggest issue with my curls/waves/whatever you want to call them. (I think I’m somewhere in between curls and waves, honestly.) New Mexico’s dry air made it more manageable. But I was still using that straightener to make the curls more “perfect” and smoother.
DIPPING A TOE IN THE CURLY WORLD…
Then we moved to Guam and, well, if you thought Florida humidity was bad…
I had my second baby in Guam and decided to do the “Mom Chop”. My long locks hit the hair dresser’s floor and I embraced chin-length hair. It’s much more practical with babies and the constant heat in Guam. After a few months with my new do, I decided to give my curls another shot. I bought some curling creme and anti-frizz stuff and let my curls do their thing. But that humidity was brutal and because of the short length, I felt like I had a triangle head.
I also occasionally did this weird thing where I pulled back part of my hair and let the rest hang curly, but with lots of product in it so it always looked wet. Not my proudest hair moment.
(If you’re still reading and wondering why I’m giving you the life story of my hair, stick with me. I have a point that has nothing to do with hair.)
Now I’m in my mid-thirties and find myself living in Florida. My hair has grown back out and hits between my shoulder blades. The length alone makes it easier to create curls that I can live with. But it still took some time before I was comfortable sporting the curly hair in this humidity!
What changed? What helped me embrace the hair God gave me? A combination of things that led to me being more comfortable with my true self!
FINDING MY CURLY COMFORT ZONE…
First, my friend Sidney constantly told me how much she loved my hair when I wore it in its natural state. Seriously, every time. And I’m a people-pleaser, so whenever I saw her, I would wear it curly because I knew she liked it. (This sounds like something you would do for a boy you have a crush on ?…) That confidence boost from her was the first step.
I decided if I was going to wear it this way, even if it was only when I saw Sidney, I should at least try to figure out how to manage the curls and make them look nice. So, I did some research. I talked to friends with beautiful curls. I bought a diffuser for my blow dryer and invested in some better curly hair products than the $4 bottle I found at Walmart.
I watched YouTube videos about how to use these products. I even switched out my shampoo! (That was actually part of a mission to replace everything in my house with an all-natural version, but the natural shampoo was much better for my hair than the cheap, chemical-filled stuff! Imagine that.)
Sometime in the last month or so of wearing my hair exclusively curly, (or up… it’s still summer in Florida), I realized that I was feeling more comfortable in my own skin in general. I felt more confident in situations that usually left me feeling uncomfortable and nervous.
Example: Going to the hair dresser is not usually a fun experience for me. I can be a bit introverted and 2+ hours of small talk with someone I barely know is not something I enjoy. But this time, I didn’t feel any nerves about spending a few hours in her chair! I enjoyed our conversation and never felt awkward. We didn’t even talk about wearing my hair curly… But somehow being confident with my natural hair has led to more confidence all around.
CURLS LEAD TO CONFIDENCE…
Becoming comfortable and confident with my true self has been wonderful for my business as well. So much of what I do as a copywriter for online coaches involves videos, (live or prerecorded), selfies, and photos that show my personality. If I’m not being real, my potential clients can spot it from a mile away. And they run.
Wouldn’t you rather work with someone who’s authentic?
Now, let me clarify — I don’t think straightening your hair makes you a big old phony. I still straighten mine occasionally, just for a different look. But when I was compulsively straightening my hair, I was being phony.
The first time I wore my hair curly to an event with some friends, someone asked me if I got a perm! She’d never seen my hair anything but stick straight. She had no idea I had naturally curly hair.
My own beautiful 6-year-old daughter has gorgeous curls, but she was already beginning to wish for straight hair because she saw me straighten my hair any time we went somewhere important. How sad is that? Just another reason for me to embrace my curls.
I think it becomes easier to find your true self when you reach your thirties. Part of you just doesn’t care as much about other people’s opinions anymore. (Part of you may be too lazy to blow dry and straighten your hair after every shower.) But for some reason, I just find myself less concerned with “looking perfect”.
Becoming comfortable with my curls has helped me become comfortable with myself in general, which helps so many aspects of my life.
I’m more confident in social situations.
I’m more authentic in my business.
I’m a better example to my children.
I even chose to wear my hair in its natural curly state for a professional photo shoot recently! That was a big step for me. I have always straightened my hair for something professional and important! But this time I decided it was time to be true to myself.
There’s nothing wrong with putting in some work to get the look you want, but I encourage you to stay true to yourself in the process! If that means embracing your natural hair, go for it. If it means bright pink locks, why not? You do you, boo. Just be genuine.
Chrissie Kenaston shares about her experiences as a wife, mother, friend, entrepreneur, etc., all filtered through the lens of God's grace.