Why do we choose to be defined by our hair?

I see an attitude a lot on these boards - where you (gy, not YOU of course, you rock) rag on straighties and people who choose to straighten their hair. Often there will be topics about how curly hair matches our personality or something. And I'm not trying to single anyone out of offend anyone, I'm honestly curious.

My hair....is just my hair. When it's curly, I'm not making a statement that I love my hair. When it's straight, I'm not making a statement that I hate my hair. I am simply...styling my hair. Why are there so many personal feelings attachted simply to something that grows out of our heads meant to keep us warm?

I went through some heavy crap with being teased about my hair and stuff, but so many people choose to be offended by the simplest of comments. Instead of freaking out about it, why can't we learn to love our hair so much, what other people say doesn't matter?
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i dont think i necessarily define myself with my hair, but i can see where you are coming from. i think my hair is just my hair too, but i like my hair to look good .

i was also teased about my curly hair which is probably why i straighten as much as i did. personally, i like my hair curly or straight. i think both styles look great on me. thats why when some girls post something like 'i want to straighten' i always encourage it as long as they use a heat protectant to minimize damage. i love that i can use my hair all different ways.
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I see an attitude a lot on these boards - where you (gy, not YOU of course, you rock) rag on straighties and people who choose to straighten their hair. Often there will be topics about how curly hair matches our personality or something. And I'm not trying to single anyone out of offend anyone, I'm honestly curious.

My hair....is just my hair. When it's curly, I'm not making a statement that I love my hair. When it's straight, I'm not making a statement that I hate my hair. I am simply...styling my hair. Why are there so many personal feelings attachted simply to something that grows out of our heads meant to keep us warm?

I went through some heavy crap with being teased about my hair and stuff, but so many people choose to be offended by the simplest of comments. Instead of freaking out about it, why can't we learn to love our hair so much, what other people say doesn't matter?
Originally Posted by CurlyEyes
I notice the comments toward straight haired people and honestly it annoys me. Yes, curly hair is known to be more "rebellious" but that doesn't mean straighties don't have hair woes. And if I want to straighten my hair, so what? It doesn't mean I hate my curls (sometimes I do but still). I want a change and honestly it's less work for me to have straight hair (I wash it less and no product really).

I notice this also with people who chose not to do CG or modify the CG routine to their liking.

I don't think my hair matches my personality. I don't see how it could... Maybe I just don't get it.

I am still learning to love my hair but at the end of the day it is just hair.

3b | low-normal porosity (still confused, definitely not high porosity) | med to coarse texture

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I've only hung out here for a short while, so I may wind up coming across as another newbie who thinks she knows everything, but here goes...

I think the backlash on people who straighten is just a short phase people go through while learning to love their hair to the point that other people's opinions don't matter. You know, kind of like when we're teens we hate everything our moms think is cool. And like our teen years, it's a short but loud and opinionated phase, so you see a lot of these comments.

I was fortunate enough to have been a teenager in the late '80s perm era, so I wasn't told to straighten to look prettier until my mid-twenties (and by then I knew opinions about beauty are like ......, everybody's got one). But if you've grown up being told your natural hair needs fixing, I think it's natural to voice your disgreement from the rooftops for a while once you realize you disagree.
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I see an attitude a lot on these boards - where you (gy, not YOU of course, you rock) rag on straighties and people who choose to straighten their hair. Often there will be topics about how curly hair matches our personality or something. And I'm not trying to single anyone out of offend anyone, I'm honestly curious.

My hair....is just my hair. When it's curly, I'm not making a statement that I love my hair. When it's straight, I'm not making a statement that I hate my hair. I am simply...styling my hair. Why are there so many personal feelings attachted simply to something that grows out of our heads meant to keep us warm?

I went through some heavy crap with being teased about my hair and stuff, but so many people choose to be offended by the simplest of comments. Instead of freaking out about it, why can't we learn to love our hair so much, what other people say doesn't matter?
Originally Posted by CurlyEyes
I notice the comments toward straight haired people and honestly it annoys me. Yes, curly hair is known to be more "rebellious" but that doesn't mean straighties don't have hair woes. And if I want to straighten my hair, so what? It doesn't mean I hate my curls (sometimes I do but still). I want a change and honestly it's less work for me to have straight hair (I wash it less and no product really).

I notice this also with people who chose not to do CG or modify the CG routine to their liking.

I don't think my hair matches my personality. I don't see how it could... Maybe I just don't get it.

I am still learning to love my hair but at the end of the day it is just hair.

Originally Posted by Residual
I think maybe some of you might be missing the point here. It's not the hair. It's deeper than the hair. It's what the hair represents. By going curly I think a lot of women are overcoming some deeper issues. Years of being ridiculed by friends and family for their hair. You pick on one thing long enough and even someone with the best self esteem will start to become self concious of it. By finally accepting their hair for what it is represents a deeper acceptance of themselves and who they are. I think it's a beautiful thing.

I personally was never ridiculed for my hair. My mother made sure that at an early age I would never have self esteem issues. She did a wonderful job (sometimes a little too good). But I do understand that a lot of women have a hard road behind of never being told they were good enough or smart enough or pretty enough. The easiest flaw to pick on would be their curly unruly hair. So of course the subject of the ridicule is going to focus all their anxiety about being judged into their hair. But the beauty of all this is by coming here and learning that their hair can be beautiful and that there are hundreds or even thousands of other people with stories similar to their own who love themselves and their gives them empowerment. It makes them realize that they are worthy - just the way they are. And helps to change a lifetime of feeling inadequate. When they say that their hair reflects their personality they mean that it refelcts their own feelings of self worth and their appreciation for being the person they are. Not trying to change it just to be accpeted. If you understand it in that light it certainly makes is more acceptable to hear them say their hair makes them. Because in a sense their hair has set them free. And if every woman in the world could experience the self esteem boost that this site has given it's members - the world would be a better place!
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Maybe it's a bit of projecting. Leaving my hair curly is an outward sign of self-acceptance. Straightening my hair was trying to be what I wasn't or being ashamed of what I was.
My hair is just my hair too.

I don't care if a fellow curly wears it straight, dyes it, blow dries it, does the Curly Girl routine, or what have you. Who cares!

I'd rather be defined on who I am as a person.
I agree with Tinah.

I don't think that curly hair defines people, or that anyone thinks that it defines them.

I think wearing our hair curly is kind of like baptism, it's an outward demonstration of an inward step we took.

There's nothing really special about my hair, like you said... it's just hair. And I really can't imagine anyone thinking or saying, "I am my hair." But, wearing it natural and letting it do it's thing was a result of accepting myself for who I am and not what anyone says I should be. The hair was one of the biproducts.

It's more of a "because I am learning to love myself and accept who I am for what I am, I have taken such and such steps in my life." And not so much a "I wear my hair curly, therefore I must love myself, and be a rebel!"
I see an attitude a lot on these boards - where you (gy, not YOU of course, you rock) rag on straighties and people who choose to straighten their hair. Often there will be topics about how curly hair matches our personality or something. And I'm not trying to single anyone out of offend anyone, I'm honestly curious.

My hair....is just my hair. When it's curly, I'm not making a statement that I love my hair. When it's straight, I'm not making a statement that I hate my hair. I am simply...styling my hair. Why are there so many personal feelings attachted simply to something that grows out of our heads meant to keep us warm?

I went through some heavy crap with being teased about my hair and stuff, but so many people choose to be offended by the simplest of comments. Instead of freaking out about it, why can't we learn to love our hair so much, what other people say doesn't matter?
Originally Posted by CurlyEyes
I notice the comments toward straight haired people and honestly it annoys me. Yes, curly hair is known to be more "rebellious" but that doesn't mean straighties don't have hair woes. And if I want to straighten my hair, so what? It doesn't mean I hate my curls (sometimes I do but still). I want a change and honestly it's less work for me to have straight hair (I wash it less and no product really).

I notice this also with people who chose not to do CG or modify the CG routine to their liking.

I don't think my hair matches my personality. I don't see how it could... Maybe I just don't get it.

I am still learning to love my hair but at the end of the day it is just hair.

Originally Posted by Residual
I think maybe some of you might be missing the point here. It's not the hair. It's deeper than the hair. It's what the hair represents. By going curly I think a lot of women are overcoming some deeper issues. Years of being ridiculed by friends and family for their hair. You pick on one thing long enough and even someone with the best self esteem will start to become self concious of it. By finally accepting their hair for what it is represents a deeper acceptance of themselves and who they are. I think it's a beautiful thing.

I personally was never ridiculed for my hair. My mother made sure that at an early age I would never have self esteem issues. She did a wonderful job (sometimes a little too good). But I do understand that a lot of women have a hard road behind of never being told they were good enough or smart enough or pretty enough. The easiest flaw to pick on would be their curly unruly hair. So of course the subject of the ridicule is going to focus all their anxiety about being judged into their hair. But the beauty of all this is by coming here and learning that their hair can be beautiful and that there are hundreds or even thousands of other people with stories similar to their own who love themselves and their gives them empowerment. It makes them realize that they are worthy - just the way they are. And helps to change a lifetime of feeling inadequate. When they say that their hair reflects their personality they mean that it refelcts their own feelings of self worth and their appreciation for being the person they are. Not trying to change it just to be accpeted. If you understand it in that light it certainly makes is more acceptable to hear them say their hair makes them. Because in a sense their hair has set them free. And if every woman in the world could experience the self esteem boost that this site has given it's members - the world would be a better place!
Originally Posted by tinah
I totally agree with that and can really relate. I got bullied like HELL about my hair, and some of you may know the rest of my story.
I think once I accept my curly hair, I'll be accepting the real me. Now, I know, to some hair is just hair but I've had a really hard life to be honest, so to me, it isn't.
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I also think that curly hair lets us identify with other women. I may not know a single soul on this board in person, but I can bet you have frizzy days, have gone through drawers full of promising products, have been called names as a kid, have had bad haircuts by stylists who had no idea what they were doing, and took a long, long LONG time to figure out what to do with your hair. None of my straight friends went through this - they had other issues. But with my curls, it's no different than being a certain gender or a certain race. It's a group, whether we are an active part of it or not.

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in my opinion, i think embracing curly hair is a way of saying "even tho SOCIETY defines straight as 'the norm' or 'better', i wont let society define ME."
i think that when women chose to go natural that are embracing the idea that everyone is different and beautiful in their own way. and when people try and tell a curly haired person (or atleast me) that their hair is "too wild" or "too crazy", it is empowering to ignore the negativity to feel even better about yourself.
i think its not so much as curly haired women belittling straight hair as it is empowering other curlys to love themselves.
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You said it!!! That's something I've noticed a lot lately and it's a GREAT thing.
Be who you are, and if other people hate... screw 'em!!
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I have been thinking about this for a couple days before I answered.

I am defined by my hair. By letting my hair go curly I am telling society, which says straight and sleek hair is sexy, that it can go to hell. Society doesn't define me, what I am does.
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(I apologise for the length in advance.)

This tendency is something that nearly put me off joining the boards in the first place - but my curiosity about just how good my hair could look overrode it. Then again, with every internet forum that is devoted to x trait (or trend, or whatever), you run the risk of those who are not part of the new group being shunned - particularly if those participating in the forum have ever felt ostracized because of their common trait/interest/etc. You see it absolutely everywhere and there's no way around it... people need to find a scapegoat, someone to blame their own lack of self-confidence or unhappiness on (interestingly, we also feel the need to suggest outward influences for newfound confidence or happiness).

The real reason for either condition - whether good or bad - is actually ourselves. I believe Eleanor Roosevelt said something along the lines of 'no one can make you feel inferior without your consent' - and that's precisely the problem I have with people allowing any single thing they do/have/represent become their way of defining themselves, particularly when this definition is in opposition to a perceived "norm." The fact that someone says something about you doesn't mean you have to believe it, or change your ways to conform. You make that decision, and you make the judgement that what you are [doing] currently is bad (lesser/weird/unacceptable/etc.). There is a whole interesting thing about personal perception and influenced perception here I could go into, but I won't bore you with that.

All of that to say: hair is hair. It is protein that grows from our head in various shapes, colors, the entirety of our lives. Some of us choose to fight it, because we have allowed ourselves to be swayed by popular opinion; others of us simply realise we can do better than we are currently. Hair is not the end all of our existence, but it can be, I think, a symbol of how we feel about ourselves (note the word 'can' rather than 'is'). It all comes down to why we do what we do - not what we do. I straightened my hair for a while not because I thought straight hair was better, but because it actually made my otherwise poofy hair manageable. I went curly because I saw a way of making my hair, which had become very unhealthy and damaged, better. It had nothing at all to do with learning to be myself - though I realise for many it does. If learning to take care of something that is very natural about yourself is enabling and empowering, then more power to you. Seriously. We all have our watershed moments when we realise that our own selves are better than what society prescribes for us: for some of us its our hair, for some our own reproductive system, for some our weight, for others our backgrounds and religions - the list is endless. To assume that for everyone it's their hair, however, is narrow-minded and smacks of projection - just because you straightened your hair because you thought it was more attractive/acceptable that way doesn't mean that that girl who would be a lovely 3c if only she threw out her straightener feels at all the same way.

I suppose I could summarise this way: As the Aussie hair care line says on the back of its bottles, 'There's more to life than hair, but it's a good place to start.' This is true enough - just realise that it's not everyone's starting place.
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Sorry for the length of this too. I had to give the OP's original post some thought before responding and I'm feeling a bit verbose this afternoon...

I am sure that there are some incidences on this board of blind intolerance of the straightening experience. I myself have not experienced much of it but I know that off and on, we deal with it. Admittedly, I have participated in threads where one poster might respond a little over-zealously to a poster's request for straightening information, but most responses are very patient and understanding. It is normal to have a few zealots in every crowd but the collective group usually softens their impact.

What I do see a lot of on this board is less judgment about flat ironing and more concern for hair health. I have participated in many a thread that was full of advise for the poster looking to occasionally straighten their hair and looking for the best way to do that. The topic of what truly damages hair may be broached, but I think it would be irresponsible of us not to share that information. It is often difficult when responding online to be interpreted correctly so if some responses sound a little harsher than others, I'm not going to feel too offended.

I myself have given advice on these boards to women who are considering the ever popular Keratin treatments, emphasizing the inconsistent results and the marketing hype that goes along with them. I don't consider that "ragging" on anyone. I believe part of our role here is education and will probably continue to add my two cents on these matters.

I've also witnessed rare occasions when a poster has gotten too harsh in their response and others have immediately jumped in to correct and reassure the OP and answer their original question. This board is overwhelmingly geared toward the care of curly hair. It stands to reason that the majority of posters believe in naturally curly hair.

As for being defined by my hair...I am no more defined than a curly who chooses to flat iron her hair because she thinks it looks better straight than curly. I don't know very many women who straighten their hair JUST because it's easier to maintain. I did it for almost 10 years and I had to plan for 2-3 hours for washing and styling my "straight" hair. Sure, I didn't have to wash it again for a couple of days, but I did it because I thought it looked good. So, if I'm defined by anything it could be the desire to look attractive and presentable in this society we live in. My curly hair has become a "trait" that people recognize and remember so maybe it has defined me to a certain degree as far as what other people recognize about me but this is only one small part of "the whole package".

I enjoy participating on this board and I think that even though things aren't perfect, we provide an invaluable service to more people than we hurt.
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