Note: Julia Rizzo has entered her freshman year at Cornell University where she will continue to write about being a curly teen.

I was browsing through my favorite bookstore last weekend when the title of a thin hardcover collection of pictures caught my attention. Big Hair by James Innes-Smith is a diminutive, easily overlooked book that celebrates hair that is anything but. The photos showcase big hair from several different eras—hair that’s curly, straight, long, short, teased. It made me smile to see so many pictures celebrating hair that makes a statement.

My sister is a poster child for big, curly hair. Even though she’s three years younger than I am, Lilly is my curly role model. She’s growing out her hair right now, and “out” is definitely the direction it wants to grow. It’s gotten several inches longer but still doesn’t touch her shoulders. Our stylist has several recommendations for any curly girl growing out her hair. She told us that regular trims are still important, even though they seem counterintuitive. Curly hair is particularly prone to split ends and damage, so if you stop cutting your hair while you’re growing it out, the end result may be an unmanageable mess.

One thing to consider if you’re trying to add length to bangs or short hair is keeping it out of your face during the awkward period when it can’t be tucked behind your ears or put up. There are tons of options, including clips, headbands and scarves, have several on hand! (Check out CurlMart's selection.) I still remember using sparkly clips to keep my bangs away from my face in fifth grade. Split ends aren’t the only sign of damage, be aware of the breakage hair ties can cause and always take them out gently. One of my friends, who has hip-length hair, prefers to use hair sticks instead of elastic ties. Since hair can’t get tangled around them, they are a gentle alternative to elastics.

Lilly has been growing out her hair for a few months now, and she gets more compliments on it than anyone I know. She confidently rocks her hair at an age when I downplayed mine. When I was in middle school my rebellious hair made me uncomfortable. In contrast, my sister embraces her unconventional hairstyle as part of who she is. She’s shown me that the best way to refrain from judging other people is to refrain from criticizing yourself. When you’re comfortable with your own appearance, it’s easy to see the beauty in those around you.

Stay Curly,


Email your questions to Julia.