She was sitting in her stroller, her thumb in her mouth. My older daughter was walking beside us holding onto the stroller handle. My son, then a very young child, held one of my hands. We were experiencing a rare moment of picturesque serenity. The woman approaching us was likely in her 60’s, she was wearing a purple jacket; I recall this so vividly because I love the color purple but it is not a color often worn by women above a certain age. She had thick auburn hair with streaks of grey stylishly woven into her shoulder length hair. She was smiling and wearing big sunglasses.
“Your children are so cute,” she squealed as she approached us. Then she peeked into the stroller and let out what sounded like a sigh, “Oh, she is adorable and you know she can straighten that hair soon enough.” I was taken aback. She had been kind, well-meaning even, but her comment, though seemingly innocuous, actually hurt me. I wanted to turn around and shout, “THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH CURLY HAIR!” Instead I believe I gave a tight smile, held my son’s hand tighter and walked on.
I wanted my daughter to love her hair EXACTLY as it is. I didn’t want her to feel that her hair was in any way “less than” or that she needed to strive for something more ideal. I knew intuitively that in order to instill her with love of her hair I would have to change her inner dialogue from the time she was very young. My Curly Girl was special and unique. Curlee Girlee was born from this desire to instill my child with confidence and self love. Hair is often overlooked as a defining characteristic of who we are. My hair has always been an odd in-between; wavy most days, straighter other days. Often I wake up to find it in a tangled mess and wonder what it would be like to have hair that actually looks the same every day. The truth is that all hair is beautiful, and teaching our girls to love their hair, no matter its texture, needs to be inoculated into our psyche. What if your child is exhibiting those tell-tale “I hate my hair” indicators? Here are five ways to combat those feelings and change the coarse of curly hair:
1. Let Her Make Decisions
Kids love to have independence and love to be able to make their own choices in a world where most of their life is still being decided for them. Allowing kids to make decisions about their bodies will most certainly add to their confidence and improve their overall self-esteem. If you allow your curly girl to wear her hair the way she likes and feels most comfortable, she is guaranteed to like her curls much more. If she likes it parted a certain way, take the care and time to part it where she likes it, usually after or during her shower, and let it dry to allow the part to stay and be more manageable. If she likes wearing braids or buns or other similar styles, find accessories she likes to allow her to have some fun! Hair care should be enjoyable after all, and she can have some fun with accessories such as head wraps, bows, or braid accessories. From there, learn how to properly style and take care of it so her preferred style is more easy and comfortable.
2. Take Proper Care of it
As mentioned, it’s important you and your curly girl know how to properly take care of her curls. If they’re not taken care of, they might not look or feel as good as they could. Teach your daughter how to care for her curls. Teach her about certain methods to make her hair the best it can be. Start with the basics; never brush curly hair, and instead, use a wide-tooth or detangler comb. Don’t wash curls every day because they will dry out, and try drying curls after a shower or bath with an old t-shirt instead of a towel. Other than that, using the products your daughter’s curls will react best to will be trial and error, but styling curls will get easier over time! In the meantime, if you don’t know where to start, here is a list of amazing curly hair products to try out. Many women have begun to use the Curly Girl method to keep their hair curly and healthy. Also, read our article on how your curly girl can wake up with fabulous curls with a silk nightcap to keep curls looking good for days at a time with minimal effort.
3. Positivity is Key
Children notice a lot more than we often give them credit for. They have excellent intuition when it comes to positive or negative vibes, so always be careful of your words and phrasing. Talk positively about curly hair, and refrain from using negative words or connotations. Stop saying things such as “taming” or “battling” curls, and instead talk about taking care of them. If you yourself have curly hair, but talk about how you dislike having it, your daughter will pick up on that and feel the same about her own curls. Confident and happy parents will lead to confident and happy children. If you straighten your hair, ask yourself why, and if your curly girl notices, try going without the straightener and embrace your own natural hair, and your daughter will gladly want to do the same. Make sure she is surrounded by positive influences as well, and stay away from people who talk negatively about curls and say things such as “I’m glad my hair isn’t that curly” or “Poor girl, look at that hair!” People will often stare or ask to touch curly hair, so teach your daughter body autonomy as well; if she doesn’t want her hair touched, don’t allow people to touch it, and teach her it is always okay to say no. Take the time to sit down with her and talk about self-esteem and confidence. Try reading books together such as How To Get Unstuck From The Negative Muck or Find Your Happy!. Both of which teach confidence, self-esteem and positive body image with fun pictures, comprehensible language, and activities for you and your curly girl to do together to make her feel good about herself.
4. Teach her that Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
It’s a common phrase that may sound cliché to us, but it’s true. Beauty is relative, and everyone has their own ideas of beauty. Everyone struggles with their own body images now and then. Let her know there are some girls with straight or wavy hair, who get up every day to curl their hair because they envy her natural curls. As a society, we are often taught that straight hair is the most beautiful and curly hair is undesirable. Teach your daughter that this isn’t true; everyone is beautiful, and the things we see and read on magazines, ads, and television aren’t the truth. She is beautiful the way she is, and her curls are something that makes her unique. Looks shouldn’t be the only thing that matters, so teach her that there are more important things. Being kind, confident, smart, are all more important, and will leave lasting impressions on those she meets throughout life.
5. Show Her Curly Girls to Look Up to
Show her some pop culture or historical icons who have changed society while also wearing their natural curls. Give your curly girly some curly role models to look up to. Whether it be a current pop sensation such as record-breaking Taylor Swift or someone older, such as Lucille Ball, one of America’s first women comedians who has changed televisions forever. Amelia Earhart, a famous record-setting female pilot, or Beyoncé, who has been impacting the music industry for years. Show her books and movies with curly-haired heroines, such as our very own Curlee Girlee book, or movies such as Disney/Pixar’s Brave or DreamWorks’s Home, which have both taken extreme care to animate the beautiful curls of these leading ladies. Your daughter will certainly learn to love her curls if she has curly role models to admire!
Atara Twersky, Author of Curlee Girlee is a TODAY Show Style Icon. Her mission is to teach girls to embrace the beautiful curls they have with power and confidence. Join us as together we change the “coarse” of curly hair. Don’t forget to watch this adorable shoe tying tutorial by the original Curlee Girlee.