Me and My Curls: a 16-year Battle

Now, I know right now that this will be a very long intro... however, I feel the need to share this story.

See, I come from Irish (on my fine-, straight-haired mother's side) and Persian (on my curly, thick-haired father's side) backgrounds. Now, when I was born almost 20 years ago, I was born with *GASP!* straight hair! I even have a picture of myself, at maybe 1 1/2, sitting on a rocking horse with my fine, thin hair in the cutest updo that I'm sure my mother fussed over just for that photo op.

This is where the story takes a very sad turn.

When I was about two years old, my mother discovered a bunch of bruises on my bum; I liked to use her car windshield as a slide. She immediately took me to the doctor, who diagnosed me with ALL leukemia.

PLEASE don't worry about me; I've been in remission since I was three :)

Anyway, my hair obviously fell out from the chemo. Now, the strange part is, it grew back CURLY! No one could explain it, and being so young, it didn't register with me that this had been a life-altering event, in more ways than one.

I went into kindergarten a normal kid; I graduated elementary school a thoroughly battered, scarred, and angry child. I was teased relentlessly for my weight and hair, which of course only made me gain more weight. That was a simple fix that began years later when I became a vegetarian and chronic pedestrian. My hair was a different story.

My 6th grade school picture says it all; my hair goes OFF the side of the frame!

I've spent a small fortune and almost my entire life trying to tame my curls. I spent countless nights wondering why, WHY?, did I have to go through such a pointless event in my life? Being a cancer survivor has only brought me pain; why did I live just to be put through more crap as a result of one of the aftereffects? Such questions bother me to this day, and probably always will.

I've tried every major hair care brand, from Pantene to Dove to Tresseme, a friend's father even had me try Mane'N'Tail, which, if you've never heard of it, is for HORSE hair.

My first hairstylist (when I was still in single-digits) cut my hair in bangs and layers; I spend a decade growing them out. She also told me to not use ANY products since they would just gunk up my hair and to shampoo EVERY day. My hair just got frizzier, so I began my life-long journey to find the PERFECT combination of products. (Incidently, I once asked a curlie in one of my classes how she managed her hair; she said she NEVER used conditioner and "gets all the gunk out" once a month with vinegar. I, however, trembled at the very thought of the rats nest that would create on my head.)

My second hairstylist (in my pre- to early-teens) told me moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. And I listened; I stopped shampooing, started using leave-in conditioners, lotions, balms, ANYTHING that said "nourishing" or "conditioning" on the lable. And my hair remained dry, brittle, and frizzy.

I stopped cutting my hair for years besides trimming the split ends, and started dying it. It's been purple since my sophomore year of high school. I don't think dying it has had any effect on its texture, at least since I stopped using bleach.

I found that all my hairstylists (who, incidently, where all straight-haired) were QUACKS. I had to learn all the usually-common-knowledge tips for curly hair on my own. I ruled out brushes when I was 12, but HATED picks. I also found that, while combing my hair detangled it (which was a twice-daily, 10-minute battle that I could not stand one more day!) it pulled my curls into waves. Only towards the ends did it curl into its natural cork-screwish texture.

Let me say that I have ONLY straightened my hair twice in my entire life. The first time, when I was 12 or so, it didn't do a DAMN thing for the frizzies; instead I just had straight Bozo-like hair. The second time was for a concert a couple years back; the girl straightened my hair and then put random braids in as I requested. It looked AWESOME with the curls mixed in with the braids, but was of course impossible to comb so only lasted a couple days.

Also, being a fan of the alternative scene, I was constantly told when asking for advice on a haircut to straighten my hair. "No punk cuts have curls", they said. I vowed to prove them WRONG. But first, I had to manage said curls.

However, I decided that I was DETERMINED to use my natural hair texture to my advantage. I refused to let this curse take the best of me.

A year or so ago, I discovered the Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition System. I LOVE it! I love how clean yet so NOT dried out the shampoo leaves my hair, and how soft it feels after using the 3-Minute Undo.

Then, a couple months ago, I made my tri-annual trip to the natural hair care section at Walmart. I had set out with the idea that I was going to look for products without ANY ingredients I couldn't pronounce or did not know the purpose of. I came home with Palmer's Spray Olive Oil, Garnier Spray Gel, Garnier Root Booster (for, as frizzy as my hair is, it is so totally flat!), and Special Efffects Silk Drops.

Let me note here that this is not intended to be a sob story (though, really, if I delved any farther into a personal biography beyond the history of my head you would most definitely be reaching for the tissue box). But that is all beside the point; I understand the battle that curlies wage with their hair daily, and this story is only intended to show that, even if your curls came from the most tragic beginnings, your hair can always have a happy ending (and roots, and shafts!).

I am proud to say that now, over 16 years after going into remission, I have finally won the war that began with chemotherapy. It has taken a lot out of me, from finances to my mental health (not to mention a remotely happy childhood), but I HAVE WON. I feel at ease, now, with the terrible tragedies that my hair (and blood) have caused me. I know now that they are conquered and behind me.

My hair and I are finally at peace.

I hope this story helps any of you who have yet to wrangle your hair, or at least inspires you to truly appreciate your OOAK curls. Every head of hair has different requirements; for some, its cleasing; others, its moisturizing; in my case, it turned out that I was simply ignoring the idea that my would need something OTHER than cleansing or moisturizing.

.... Did you REALLY just read that entire monster?!

I pity you. Or else, am jealous of all the time you must have on your hands. =P


  • SailaSaila Registered Users Posts: 1,212 Curl Neophyte
    .... Did you REALLY just read that entire monster?!

    I pity you. Or else, am jealous of all the time you must have on your hands. =P

    I just took my last final. No more school for 5 weeks! So it is very fitting that you would say that.

    Thanks for sharing your story... Welcome to CG! :) I'm new here as well.
  • GretchenGretchen Administrator Moderators Posts: 10,840 Curl Virtuoso
    Welcome to our NaturallyCurly community! We are glad to have you.

    Gretchen co-founder

    You are beautiful!

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