How does one describe a child's evolution from hating her curls to loving them? The transformation for us began recently when our 8-year-old daughter, Katie, became a finalist, and ultimately the winner, of the Curl Pride Contest.

Gretchen, Michelle and Katie

The owners of graciously flew us from St. Louis to NYC, put us up in a hotel suite in the heart of Manhattan, arranged for a curly hair makeover at a famous Manhattan salon, provided a year's supply of curly hair products, and gave Katie $500 spending money.

Before meeting Michelle and Gretchen, the owners of (and and curly hair guru Lorraine Massey, Katie never appreciated how wonderful her natural curls could be. Until this trip, Katie insisted on wearing her hair in a ponytail or under a hat so no one would notice she didn’t have straight hair. Katie thought she would be forever miserable with her lot in life – curly, unmanageable hair.

As we flew into La Guardia airport, we could see Katie's eyes widen as she began to soak in the magnitude of what was about to happen. On our drive into the City, she was speechless and stared in amazement at all of the sights and sounds of Manhattan. By the time we entered our hotel suite, she was bursting with excitement as we were about to meet the trip's benefactors, Michelle and Gretchen, at dinner.

The first night at dinner we quickly bonded with Michelle and Gretchen, and spent most of the evening spotting everyone with curly hair in the restaurant as we enjoyed an awesome meal. In just this one Midtown restaurant, Katie developed her first awareness that there were so many people with hair just like hers.

The next day, Gretchen and Michelle took us on a whirlwind of fun activities, including lunch at Serendipity and shopping at the American Girl store, FAO Schwartz, and The Children's Place (which was gracious enough to contribute the wardrobe Katie would wear to her curly hair makeover and photo shoot the following morning).

All the while, Katie spotted even more people with curly hair. Her awareness that other people live happily with curly hair. and wear it out with pride (not in a ponytail or under a hat), continued to grow with each passing moment. Katie even got to fit in a testosterone break for her dad by practicing her softball fielding, throwing, and catching in Central Park in the late afternoon.

The final transformation took place the following morning upon meeting Lorraine Massey at her salon in Soho where Katie saw an entire salon of curls, curls, and more curls. She saw tight curls, big curls, and corkscrew curls just like hers. Lorraine lovingly taught Katie, step by step, how to care for her curls. She explained how Katie should wash her hair, to let the water fall on her curls, not to use shampoo as most shampoos damage curls, and she demonstrated how “No-Poo,” a product created by Lorraine, would benefit her curls instead.

Lorraine also assured Katie that she would never again have to use a comb or a brush, a difficult endeavor that Katie viewed as source of anxiety, frustration and physical agony. Lorraine tutored Katie on the importance of using the right conditioner. Finally, Loraine stressed the benefits of flipping her hair over and scrunching it with her hands while it dries.

When all was said and done, Lorraine did not cut much off Katie's hair. Instead, she told her to let it grow. With Katie's type of corkscrew curls, the only way her hair will properly lay is to let it grow over the next few years. Since that final day, Katie has used the products Lorraine gave her and followed the lessons learned to a "T."

Her hair no longer frizzes and her curls no longer look too sticky or too stiff. In the end, she has hair that is more manageable and her curls look more beautiful and bouncy. Thanks to Michelle, Gretchen and Lorraine, Katie's curls and life will forever be changed for the better.

-- Andrea and Michael Korein (Katie's grateful parents)

P.S. In case you’re wondering, Katie now wears her hair down at school with pride, a big smile, and a new found confidence.