Join Date: Oct 2005
Naturallycurly.com mentioned in today's Tampa Tribune
There was a good article about going naturally curly in today's Tampa Tribune and it mentions NC.com. The article is below.
Unfurl The Curls
By DONNA KOEHN The Tampa Tribune
Published: Dec 29, 2006
I think, for a while there, my daughter believed her "outside" name was Little Orphan Annie. Either that or Shirley Temple. When she was little, I couldn't take her anywhere without hearing one or the other.
At her birth, when my husband told me she had inherited my red hair, I was as thrilled as a woman can be while in the middle of a C-section. When her hair soon started to curl, that was the icing on a fancy carrot cake.
Not that I didn't know the dark side of being born a curly carrot-top, the only one in my extended family. I tried for years to puzzle out the grown-ups' joke about the redheaded milkman, and I couldn't understand my brown-haired older sister's wrath when I endured the unwanted attention of elderly aunts and strangers.
When I was about 2, my sister had had enough and churned an old-fashioned egg beater into my locks. Sadly for both of us, the curls grew back.
And as so often happens, along with her mother's hair, my daughter inherited her mother's disposition: mostly introverted, prone to breaking out in hives if put on stage. It's not a combination that works well with that hair.
I knew all that. But somehow, I repressed the worst of it and continued to revel in hercurls. I even put a framed picture near her bathroom sink of Frieda, the "Peanuts" character with the natural curls. It said, "People always expect more of you when you have naturally curly hair." She thought it was funny. For a while.
And then my daughter hit adolescence. All the anguish didn't just rush back; it tsunami-ed me.
Suddenly, what had been largely unnoticed by peers made her different. And everyone knows that "different" from ages 11 to 17 means "bad."
I so well remember what it was like to be cruelly teased, made to feel like an alien because I didn't look like everyone else.
So does Michelle Breyer, 45, a woman whose dark, curly hair cascades around her face like Elaine's on "Seinfeld." Her mother, who had no clue what to do with it, kept little Michelle's hair in a pixie cut for years.
"People didn't know if I was a boy or a girl," she says.
But that wasn't the worst of it. Coming off the Marcia Brady years, entering the Farrah Fawcett era, Breyer decided to grow it out. Not having the slightest idea how to make that work, she brushed it - heresy in the curly world.
Her seventh-grade classmates started calling her "Bozo."
"It was very traumatic," she says. "Back then, there was no Nicole Kidman. There was just Roseanne Roseannadanna."
Her curly-top friend Gretchen Heber, 43, remembers when she decided to grow out her hair in her teen years.
Her father sent her back upstairs to do something about the rat's nest.
"He told me it looked like I combed it with a stick," Heber recalls.
The middle and high school years were rough.
"Kids are so cruel," says Breyer, who with Heber in 1998 founded NaturallyCurly.com, an Austin, Texas-based Web site that celebrates curly and kinky hair. "When you're young, you focus on things that are different, and curly hair is different. Kids do make fun."
Kevin Thompson, who has written books on body image, says our hair and faces form the most basic part of who we are and therefore have a large role not only in how the world sees us, but also in how we perceive ourselves. People whose features are ridiculed can come to loathe themselves.
"It can even lead to body dysmorphic disorder," in which a person develops a distorted, negative view of him- or herself, says Thompson, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida. That can lead to obsessive-compulsive behaviors, repeated plastic surgeries - even suicide.
"Concern about hair is not as much of a health issue as anorexia, but it is a psychological one," he says.
To gain peer approval, Breyer and Heber began battling their hair.
Heber washed hers at night and slept with it wet in a stocking cap to smush down the curls. But if the day was even a wee bit humid, out came the frizz.
Breyer slept on giant curlers that left dents in her scalp, or she fried her curls with an iron until they smoked.
Mayor Pam Iorio, perhaps Tampa's most famous curly top, pressed hers on an ironing board in her teen years but long ago gave in to her determined ringlets.
"It's what I've been given," says Iorio, 47. "I just cannot see myself straightening it anymore."
I used giant plastic curlers slathered with pink Dippity-Do as a teen - not to curl, but to straighten. I sat under a bubble dryer for hours and used a stinky chemical straightener so harsh it made my scalp bleed. That worked only until my kinky hair started growing out, giving me the curly-hair version of black roots.
Black women, too, have long relaxed their hair or hidden it under wigs to achieve the look society deems appropriate for church or the workplace, says Lisa Goddard, a consultant to NaturallyCurly.com.
"It never dawned on me to wear my hair naturally," says Goddard, 32. "It was ingrained on a social level to relax it."
In some families, daughters have their first relaxing treatment or hot-combing at age 5. In others, it's 15. But the ritual almost always is part of growing up black and female, says Goddard, who now wears her hair in a riot of natural coils and curls.
"One day I had a huge epiphany. I had never thought of not relaxing it. But it was a huge step for me in terms of self-acceptance."
Goddard, who studied the growing market of products for naturally curly and kinky hair while working on her master's degree in business administration, says younger women are more accepting of the natural look.
Older women, however, often stick with their relaxers and wigs, she says.
Large cosmetic and hair-care companies increasingly are filling store shelves with products that work with curls, rather than fight them.
Long a favorite of fair-skinned women of European descent, L'Oreal of Paris opened its Institute for Ethnic Hair & Skin Research in Chicago in 2000 as part of an aggressive expansion into diverse markets from Asia to Africa.
Estimates vary, but research suggests that 50 percent to 65 percent of the world's population has some natural wave, curl or kinkiness.
When NaturallyCurly.com started, it was a forum for curly-haired women to connect, share stories and talk about haircuts and products.
As more and more women looked for pomades, diffusers and gels to make their curls work, Breyer and Heber started selling products on the site, which has also grown to include pages for curly kids, places to chat or post problems, product reviews, articles and tips.
They've even used the site to urge a national boycott of the movie "The Princess Diaries," released in 2001. The main character undergoes a transformation from ugly duckling to swan by shedding her glasses and straightening her hair.
"We just wondered what kind of impact that would have on young girls with curly hair," Breyer says.
Those youngsters already contend with a dearth of role models. The beauties on the covers of teen magazines often have long, straight hair. Curls are virtually verboten in broadcast journalism as well. Communications students with curly hair are warned by professors to straighten it if they want to go on air, and station managers have been known to accompany new journalists to styling salons.
It is feared that anchors and reporters with curly hair will be seen as unkempt or lacking in gravitas, says Yolanda Fernandez, a reporter and anchor with WFLA, Channel 8, The Tampa Tribune's news partner.
Fernandez wore her naturally curly hair straight for years.
"It was always a battle, and I always had news directors after me about my hair," she says. "I used electric curlers to straighten it."
Finally, after 17 years at the station, she felt she had enough on-air experience and acceptance from the public to go curly now and then.
"People drove me crazy with e-mails. It seemed they either hated it or loved it, but a lot of people hated it and were really nasty," Fernandez says. "One person recently e-mailed that I needed to stop trying to look like Shirley Temple. Somebody offered to pay to send me to their hairdresser."
Iorio, too, says she has received more than two dozen e-mails from people urging her to do something about her hair; stylists often offer to work on it for free. She's happy with her style and declines all offers, she says.
"I cut it in my junior year in high school, and it all curled up into the ball it is now," she says. But, hey, it's easy to care for.
When curly-haired women find a stylist who understands their challenges, they remain loyal. NaturallyCurly.com offers women a place to list their favorite stylists' names and addresses so curly tops who move to a new city can find one.
Fernandez's stylist began cutting her hair when she was 15 and even accompanied her to Atlantic City, N.J., for the Miss America Pageant in 1982. Fernandez took third place. The big-haired 'do's of the '80s were good to curly tops.
"I had great pageant hair," Fernandez sighs.
I've tried to explain to my daughter that curly hair sometimes comes back in style. My own epiphany came while watching "Last Tango in Paris" at an art house in the late '70s. While others' eyes were on the butter, mine were on Maria Schneider's tousled mane. Yes! Mine could do that!
Not long after, Barbra Streisand continued the revolution in "A Star Is Born."
I went curly and life was good. But by then, high school was a memory.
My daughter remained unmoved by my tales.
About three years ago, our trusted stylist mentioned to us that she had just been trained to straighten hair with a Japanese treatment called Chi (pronounced "chee"). I laughed when I heard that the treatment cost several hundred dollars and required pricey Chi straightening irons, Chi hair dryers, Chi conditioners, Chi shampoos and more.
"Chi must be Japanese for 'sucker!' " I quipped. "Sorry, I'm just too 'Chi-p' to pay for that!"
My daughter was not amused.
Now, mind you, I've read "Reviving Ophelia." I've talked to my daughter from an early age about images in the media that don't conform to reality, about air brushing and anorexia and how downright dangerous it can be to give in to peer pressure regarding drugs, drinking and smoking.
When she was 12 or 13, she got major kudos from me for writing a letter to Girls' Life magazine, chastising the editor for purporting to write about real girls while showing skinny waifs on the cover.
But the siren song of teen peer pressure is irresistible. As if I didn't know.
Iorio's daughter, now off at college, succumbed, too.
"There must be such tremendous pressure on them then," Iorio says. "When she was little with those curls, Caitlyn was sooo cute. But during her teenage years, we did the Chi treatment and everything else. I used to tease her that she spent half of her waking hours in her bedroom, working to get her hair straight."
Even curly advocate Breyer's own 6-year-old despises her inheritance.
So, yes, ultimately I gave in. I opened my checkbook, my daughter anted up every bit of allowance and babysitting money she had, and she got the treatment. If she is happy, I am happy.
But underneath all that shiny, board-straight red hair lurk those curly follicles. I'm confident that someday, my curly girl will come back to her roots.
Here are some tips for keeping curls looking pretty without frizz:
•A good haircut is key.
•Sleep on a satin pillowcase.
•Don't shampoo every day.
•Comb conditioner through hair in the shower.
•Avoid terrycloth towels; use microfiber instead.
•Air-dry or use a diffuser.
•Use styling products suited for your hair type.
•NEVER use a brush.
•Don't touch your hair.
•Pomade is great for midday touchups.