Growing up in America was much different than it was in Brazil because I lived a more privileged life here. However, one thing remained the same: everyone thought curly hair was considered bad hair.
Born and raised in Brazil, my family moved us to the United States when I was eight years old. Growing up in America was much different than it was in Brazil because I lived a more privileged life here. However, one thing remained the same: everyone thought curly hair was considered bad hair. My mom's naturally curly hair was marvelous in all its glory and yet, she would chemically straighten it every three months. Following in her footsteps, I had no idea how to fix my own hair. Nobody around me ever embraced their curls; all I knew to love was straight hair because curly hair wasn't 'good' according to my family.
Since my mom had her cosmetology license, she was able to obtain all of the new and professional hair treatments on the market.
She would do my permanent keratin treatments on a routine basis until my roots grew out curly. The cycle would continue for years. Funny enough, the treatments never completely straightened my hair, so resorted to using a flat iron, which in turn created even more damage. My ends would be so dry but I refused to cut them. At the time, length was more important to me.
I would gel back my curls to make them lay down because I hated my volume.
Fast forward to three years ago when I decided to put down the flat iron and do a big chop.
Fed up with not being able to go to the gym because, God forbid, my freshly straightened hair would get sweaty and frizzy, I unchained myself from the flat iron. I had so much damage and therefore, the only thing I could think of was to cut it all off. From that point, I embarked on my natural hair journey. I would gel back my curls to make them lay down because I hated my volume. Knowing nothing about how to properly use a styling gel, the crunch caused my curls to look and feel glossy and hard (you know what I'm talking about!)I took a trip to Brazil for the first time in years after I started overcoming my fear of volume. Around this time, I experimented with different products to embrace my frizz. My whole family looked at me like I was crazy, asking things like, "What's wrong with your hair?" or, "Oh, my God! is that a Brillo pad?"
I was trying my best to love my curls but I was doing it all alone.
I was the first person in my family to just let my curls be. I knew they were joking, so I did not take their comments seriously, although it saddens me that my soon-to-be fourteen-year-old half-sister chemically straightens her hair like my mom still does to this day.
I can tell you to love your curls--however, only you are going to make it happen for yourself. My mom never did, but I hope that sharing my pictures will help her love those curls and ignore the haters. When she was little, we would take turns during her wash day. She would cry when it was time to detangle. Sometimes we like to escape from our problems instead of finding ways to solve them. I did that, but I know now that one day when I have a child, they will love their hair like I love mine. It will be something we will do together--education is the key to embrace.
How has your environment shaped your love (or hate) for your naturally curly hair? Let us know below.
Read why Whitney embraced her curls despite her Dominican family's strong disapproval.