CurlyTeen Scene is a column especially for curly teens. Julia Rizzo is a teenager living in Central New York. When not writing, she enjoys acting, reading and snow skiing. She has loved writing as long as she can remember, and plans to pursue a career in English. She hopes her column will provide encouragement and inspire girls to love their curly hair.

“Mom! Mom! Have you seen my hairbrush?”

“Will you braid my hair before I go to bed?”

“I think I’m going to buy a straightener.”

“She’s offering me the opportunity to write a column!”

While thinking about being a curly kid, memories, like sound bytes, pop into my mind. Growing up with curly hair was a challenge for me, albeit one that gradually became easier as I grew in self-confidence and maturity.

During my first few years of elementary school, I brushed my hair out every morning -- wet or dry. All my friends brushed their hair, so I brushed mine too. This left my hair, as you might imagine, unruly at best. And I tamed it by putting it into a low, tight coil that I now can only describe as a “granny bun”.

One day in sixth grade I misplaced my hairbrush. Not being able to find it anywhere, I settled for detangling it in the shower and realized it looked a lot curlier! My reaction was to put it in a ponytail instead of a bun. And since I was in the middle of my tomboy phase, I pulled my curly ponytail through the back of a baseball cap (I had several).

When I was 12, my mom made an appointment for me at a salon. It was a breakthrough! Previously, I’d gone with my dad to the barbershop down the street or my mother would insist on giving me a trim in the kitchen. My mom is a nurse, and while she’s great at taking out stitches, her haircutting skills leave a little to be desired (surgical scissors usually aren’t a stylist’s first choice).

At the salon, my hairdresser took one look at me and taught me how to use curl specific products and a diffuser to get curl definition and frizz control unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Suddenly, instead of putting my hair up, I wanted to show it off!

That same year I started seventh grade at a new school, and had a series of experiences that paved the way for my future defense of curly hair.

At an age where conformity is valued, many girls in my grade straightened their hair every morning. People frequently asked (and still do) “Don’t you ever straighten it?” I took this to mean that I should. While I was learning to bring out the beauty in my curls, I had girls telling me beauty was found somewhere completely different! So I tried straightening it, and I found that the process difficult and the results less than attractive. I gave away my straightener soon after that experiment.

By freshman year, I really came to terms with my hair. I perfected different styles and found products that worked. My curls became my signature. At the same time I became known for being a proponent of curly girls, I came upon NaturallyCurly.com. “How cool!” I thought, wishing that I’d found the site three years earlier.

I wrote to Michelle, and I was thrilled when she gave me the opportunity to write a monthly column for the site. I’d love to hear your memories.

E-mail me with your stories!

Stay Curly,

Julia