Jamila of College Curlies shares her experience of being a curly girl in college.
By Jamila of College Curlies
Being a curly girl in a straight-haired society can be challenging enough. But having natural hair in college has it's own unique ups and downs.
Transitioning to college is also a great time for transitioning to natural hair. I found that it was a lot easier to make the transition from relaxed to natural when most of my life was, well, in transition. College is a time where you establish new parts of your identity, new friends, new interests, etc.
Depending on your college/university, the environment is generally going to be more liberal than that of a professional workplace. You can wear a funky updo one day, a fro-hawk the next, a twist out on the weekend (etc.), without feeling constrained by a more conservative environment.
If you have one, this can be a tremendous joy. Having other naturals around you for inspiration and support is really great. A natural hair support system is great for product swapping and style ideas, and it's always great to have someone who understands your struggles...misery loves company!
Time to experiment
College is a great time to experiment with different looks. Like I mentioned before, you can wear a variety of styles throughout the week. Your lifestyle in college is usually hectic and all over the place, one day you're at in internship, the next day you're volunteering, the next you're going out with your friends, etc. College is a great time to experiment with versatile styles to suit your versatile lifestyle.
Forgiving of your crazy life
College is about the only time where it's (somewhat) acceptable to wear the same style for three days straight, or throw your hair into a puff in the morning and go. Time is money, especially at school...so if you need to rock with that wash-n-go for a few days or keep your twists under a bonnet during exam times, you can do that.
Living in a dorm
Trying to do your natural hair is one thing, trying to do your natural hair in a communal bathroom is an entirely different story. I'd love to be able to rinse out my deep conditioning treatment in the sink (without having to get back in the shower), or to be able to do a henna without getting the side eye from folks brushing their teeth. What should be a fairly private and personal routine becomes public super quick. Feeling compelled or pressured to explain your hair to people who, uh, don't look like you can be annoying. Being made to feel like a zoo animal is never fun, and it's almost certain to happen living in a dorm.
Being the only one
Depending on what school you go to, being the only one (or one of few) people with natural hair can be really isolating. Getting weird looks and strange questions or comments (from "Do you wash your hair?" to "It looks good on you, but I could never do that!") can be exhausting and really annoying. It's awesome to have a support system, and feeling like you don't have anyone to talk to about your natural hair just kinda sucks.
This is one of the biggest pains of having natural hair in college. When I have so much going on, sometimes a deep conditioning treatment is the last thing on my mind. I can't be bothered with daily styling and maintenance. I literally have to plan when I'm going to do my hair. If I don't, either it or something else won't get done.
This can be a pain, but it doesn't have to be. I have those days where I really just want to try a Heutiful steamer, or get a Deva cut, but my wallet won't allow it. It takes a lot of willpower not to spend my on every product I see (though it is tempting!) Finding what products work best for your hair can be an issue when you don't have any money to buy products to try...or running out of a tired and true product and having to wait until you get paid, or your parents show mercy on you and help you out. Not a good look.
Lack of access to resources
If you live in a college town like mine, finding a salon or a stylist who doesn't scream and run when you walk through the door is a rare privilege. If you don't have a car, finding a way to get to the store to buy your staple products (like conditioner) can be a struggle.
What are some of your joys and pains of being a College Curly? Tell us what you think in the comments area below.