“What did you wish for?” I asked my daughter, Lily, after she blew the candles out on her eighth birthday cake.
“More curls,” she replied.
Yes, I was happy that she didn’t wish for the newest American Girl or a science kit that would blow up my bathroom, but I still shook my head. Why? Because my daughter has soft, straight hair—the kind of hair I dreamed about as a child. In fact, when I interviewed almost 100 curly-haired women for "Curly Girl 2," almost every single one described a childhood envy of hair that is exactly like my daughter’s: thick, shiny and straight with just enough body to make it bounce. The kind of hair that forms a thick rope when you braid it. Truth be told, I still long for her hair and love the rare occasions when she lets me wash it, brush it or braid it. I tell her how beautiful it is all the time—probably too much so perhaps I’m creating some sort of complex—and think that despite what other obstacles life brings her this girl will never know a bad hair day.
I have no idea where she got her locks since my hair is curly and thin and my husband is, well, losing most of his hair. Her birthday isn’t the first time my daughter has claimed she has curls. Just recently she and her best friend were discussing whose hair was curlier. In my opinion, Lily and her friends’ love of curls is a major breakthrough for curly girls the world over. Perhaps it has more to do with Taylor Swift’s ringlets or Miley Cyrus’ waves, but finally curls are getting their due!
Growing up, there certainly weren’t any girls who wanted curls (and definitely none who’d waste a birthday wish on them). In fact, it was always the shiny, straight-haired kids who said the meanest things about my strands. My point with all this is two-fold: curls have come a long way. They’re finally something that women want. Second, I think my road to going curly has had a positive impact on my daughter and knowing that keeps me going on those days when my not-totally-curly-but-not-totally-straight hair drives me to drink. At least I’m teaching her to love what nature gave her as I struggle to do the same. I realized this recently when I told her that we could braid her hair while it was wet and have her sleep like that so it would be curly the next morning. “I want real curls mom. Natural curls,” she said rolling her eyes. “Oh. Okay,” I said sheepishly. How dumb of me! I admit that at times I just appease Lily and let her think she has curls. It’s the like the Emperor’s new clothes where she says, “I think my hair is getting curlier in the back” and I nod in agreement as I try to find even one strand that’s bending just slightly. I’m not trying to lie to her. I’m just trying to support the loving curls movement. After all, if we start when girls are young, who knows what can happen?