I’ve spent my entire life living and attending school in Central New York. Although I’ve had the opportunity to travel outside of the American Northeast, the perspective with which I view the world reflects the place I grew up.
One of the best things about our generation, however, is that the Internet allows us to reach out and communicate with other teenagers, regardless of where we live on the map. Every time I get an email from a NaturallyCurly.com reader, I am reminded that no matter where you are in the world, you can always find other curly girls.
I recently got a Facebook message from Nitya, a curly girl in New Delhi, India. She wrote that she “still has moments” when she wishes that she had “’normal’ straight hair,” and she wondered if I ever feel the same way. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I have no simple answer to her simple question. I occasionally wish I had straight hair, mostly when I’m having a particularly difficult hair day. But then again, I also wish I was six feet tall when I can’t reach something on the top shelf at the grocery store. When my hair takes on a life of its own or when I’m straining to grasp something out of my reach, I wonder what it would be like if I was a little different. Occasionally I pull out a hair dryer or strap in a pair of heels and try out a new look for a bit.
While wanting an occasional change is totally okay, and doing something different with your look can be fun and interesting, I think lasting satisfaction comes from really accepting yourself. For me, it was embracing my curly hair, regardless of what the current trend may be.
While I can wax poetic about a simple question, Nitya also posed a practical one: “What would you do if you had to go on a camping trip in the wilderness . . . and you couldn’t wash your hair for four days straight?”
Last August I did just that, spending five days backpacking in the Adirondack mountains. Our strict “leave no trace” policy meant that although I swam several times during our journey, I couldn’t use soap or shampoo in the water I was swimming in. Before I left I washed and conditioned my hair and put it into two very tight French braids. Three days into my trip, when my braids began to come undone, I threw my hair up into a much-familiar bun. Although I probably looked a little rough and tumble, forsaking a shower for a few days was well worth the opportunity to camp with friends and sleep under the stars. While grungy hair is quickly forgotten, the memory of backpacking with nine other people my age will endure.
Whether you're hiking in the Adirondacks or surfing the internet, curly girls can be found in all locations and situations. While none of us are confident one hundred percent of the time, feeling good with who you are is a heck of a lot more fun than the alternative.