Before we had children, my husband always told me that he wanted a baby girl with curly hair. Needless to say, once we had a daughter and her hair started growing, we were beyond thrilled to see light brown curls framing her face. As she would fall asleep, I would twirl each spiral around my finger, so happy to share this curly-haired gene with my little girl.
At some point as she grew older, my daughter decided that she disliked her curls. Every day she would brush out her hair, ridding it of the spirals I loved so much. She would tell me that straight hair was “beautiful,” and that she just didn’t like curly styles.
To me, this wasn’t just about not liking her hair. It was about her not liking the way she looked and the girl she was becoming — which was not just upsetting to me as her mother, but a major wake-up call, too.
Suddenly, a mirror was being held up to my own relationship with my curly hair. It made me realize that in order to inspire my daughter to love the curls she was born with, the change needed to start with me. When she saw me blow drying my hair straight, what message was that sending her day after day?
I’ve been using the past few months to show my daughter that curly hair is beautiful — and that she is beautiful, by extension. Just as she is. Not only have I been using words to tell my girl how lovely her natural waves are, but I’m wearing my hair naturally to work and events.
Finally, the effort is paying off. And it’s meant the world to me.
A few days ago while we were at Disney World, my daughter told me she wanted her hair styled “like a princess” so I decided to get her an appointment at a salon. She’s done so well in school that I wanted to do something special for her. Never in a million years did I think it would mark a turning point in my daughter’s relationship with her own hair.
She had the choice to get a blow dry, an updo, or curls. For the first time ever, my 9-year-old girl chose curls. I thought my ears were playing tricks on me. But no, she insisted to the hairdresser, a lovely woman called Jennifer, that she wanted to wear her hair down and curly.
So Jennifer used a curling iron to define my daughter’s natural waves. When I saw the ringlets that my daughter used to have as a baby before she started brushing out her curls, my eyes filled with tears. It was a moment that was so much more than it appeared on the surface. It was a moment that signified my daughter’s journey to self-acceptance. And it confirmed that our children, the ones we try so hard to teach day in and day out — they really do learn more from our actions than our words.