It all starts with one remark -- a casual one, made in passing, perhaps with little to no thought given to it by the speaker, who most likely moves on from the incident the second it’s out in the open.
But that remark can lead you down a spiral of thinking-rethinking-questioning-hating-desperately trying to change a part of you -- your natural hair, for example -- for years to come.
Personally, accepting my naturally curly hair has been a painful struggle for as long as I can remember, with so many voices pointing out how it really should be instead. What made me realize how very empowering it is, however, is the support from a community of women, helping each other relearn how to love parts of themselves.
We gathered similar accounts of women from my curly girl community, of how they unlearned and learned everything they knew, and need to know, about natural hair.
I was born with naturally straight and silky hair, but, for some hormonal changes after hitting puberty, my hair turned wavy. I used to think since I used to oil my hair almost every day and tie it up in a braid, it had turned wavy. Without proper care and the right products, my hair had turned frizzy, fluffy, and rough: I thought I just had bad hair.
At the age of 17, I bought myself a mistake -- a flat iron. I used to iron my hair every day, which took up to 2.5 hours per day. I continued doing it till June 2018 -- for 14 years. I even relaxed/rebonded my hair around eight times. It’s a miracle that I still have any hair left on my head!
I got introduced to the Curly Girl Method in February 2018. I came across a random Youtube video on how to take care of your naturally wavy hair, and thought of giving it a try, and voila! I discovered at the age of 33 I am not a wavy girl with bad, frizzy, hair.
I started to research more on the method. Joined a few international groups, started to take care of my hair in the right way, and the way my hair is transforming everyday is unbelievable. This method has taught me how to love my natural wavy/curly hair and, therefore, I wanted to share my experience and help all the Bangladeshi curlies out there to love, embrace, and enhance their natural hair texture.
With that in mind, I started the group Curly Girl Bangladesh by KazriaK on Facebook, and built a community of curly girls who teach and inspire each other to accept and love their natural hair, everyday.
I was born with beautiful curly hair. My voluminous locks would fall over each other so symmetrical. But as puberty hit me, the desire to be attractive paved in. Too often, was I told by my girlfriends in middle/high school that I should straighten my hair to fit in. My groomed curly hair was never a decent hair style to go to a wedding or dawat. I needed to have flat, straight hair, or it had to be tied up , for me to look "decent".
To look more “acceptable”, I wanted to rebond my hair, but my mom wouldn’t let me, so eventually I found myself straightening my hair with a clothing iron because straighteners weren’t good enough to straighten my wild curls. It fried my hair.
For years, I kept blow drying my hair, trying out all hairstyles for events, because I was convinced I couldn't possibly look pretty and presentable with my natural curls.
Eventually, I stopped paying a heed to all those demoralizing opinions that kept coming in. The pressure to change who I was in order to feel presentable in someone else’s eyes started bothering me. I started reading up on the subject and stumbled upon the Curly Girl Method (CGM). I cannot begin to explain how much I started enjoying my super hydrated, bouncy, curly hair once I learnt that curly hair has its own specific regime to be followed. I would still flip between hairstyles once in a while, but that was because I was in the mood to do so, not because I feared for my character to be judged.
I hope more people get to learn how to take care of curly hair. Because it really is a different texture of hair and it needs its own kind of attention. More importantly, I cannot emphasize enough on getting rid of all the ridiculous stigmas around having curly hair. It breaks your self esteem, and more importantly just kills your hair.
Nudrat Lohani Nabi:
“Beauty” in our culture is defined by two pivotal things: Fair skin and long straight hair.
So to fit in, I began straightening my hair young. First, with old fashioned clothes irons, later with a straightener. It took me 15 long years to break out of this idea that long straight hair is what defines beauty. Somewhere in my 30s, just like that, one fine morning I woke up and thought enough is enough. I will not spend another hour damaging my hair to look like someone I am not.
And here I am today, almost 2 years on, loving it.
With the guidance of a loving friend, I have learned to follow hair care that suits me and give my hair the love it deserves.
Along the way, I have realized, it was never really about straight hair or curly hair. It was about loving myself, just the way I am.
I grew up thinking straight hair is the definition of beauty, and curly hair is unattractive and messy. I spent most of my teenage years loathing my natural hair texture. I used to be envious of people with straight hair, while I had what should be called a thick frizz. I did not dare to step outside without straightening my hair. Constant flat ironing damaged my hair and made it look even worse. I would receive tips and tricks from people on how to fix my frizzy, unruly, and dry hair, and make it look straight. Every time I used to go to a beauty salon for a haircut, my hairdresser would suggest that I get treatment to make my hair sleek and straight.
It wasn't until recently that I started loving my natural hair type. In the year 2019, I stumbled upon a group for girls with curly hair on Facebook, and realised how beautiful curly hair can be. I disposed of all my old shampoos and conditioners, and started the curly hair routine. Slowly, I got defined curls and healthier hair. I was astounded by the results and how amazing my curls looked. Some complimented my hair and asked if I had gotten my hair curled in a beauty salon, or used any curling iron, while others said curly hair does not look good and I should go back to straightening my hair. The overwhelming compliments were what kept me going. I finally learned to embrace my natural curly hair, and started going out without spending hours to straighten my hair. It's been over a year since I stopped using a hair straightener, and I don't ever feel like relapsing. I am thankful to the group and community for creating such a platform to encourage women to accept their natural hair.
“You look great when you straighten your hair” -- that is what I heard for years. I grew up believing girls with straight hair are beautiful, and girls with curly hair are ugly. Everyday, I spent hours and hours on straightening my hair. I was terrified of embracing my own curls for years; but this January, I took the first step towards accepting my curls.
My curls were mostly damaged from being straightened all the time. I had to chop off a lot of my hair. I started applying CGM approved products. At first, it was really hard for my hair to accept all the changes. My hair is in the transition period now, and I can’t wait to see how it transforms over time. But now, I’ve learned to love every inch of my curly hair.
I’ve been blessed (or cursed) with unruly, messy, frizzy, curly hair. According to Cosmopolitan, curly-haired women in popular culture are often viewed as “quirky sidekicks”, or even “deranged”, while their straight haired counterparts are considered “well-groomed and serious”. Owing to this, numerous curly haired women all over the world spend hours every day, straightening and flattening their luscious locks, just so they can achieve the sleek Katherine Heigl look that is seen in every rom-com. They wear their straightened hair like suits of armour, and it makes them feel more beautiful and, just in general, better about themselves. Why? Because of the stigma against curly hair that has always been prevalent and pop culture’s perception of women with coils.
My journey into the realm of ringlets , curls, and coils was a bit different than everyone else’s. I discovered the Curly Girl Method while browsing through the internet for a solution for my big, poofy hair when I was in eighth grade, and immediately started following a few of the rules, such as not combing the hair while it is dry, not using a the regular terry towels, but I also used to cowash using a conditioner that had silicone thinking, “what difference does it make?” The one prime rule curlies have to abide by is steering clear of products containing sulphates and silicones, and back then buying shampoos and conditioners by checking the ingredients was not common. In 2017, I went on a family trip to India and scoured every shop I could find looking for a sulphate free shampoo, and finally dug up a herbal shampoo from Biotique. I was over the moon, but the realization that I had just the one bottle soon dawned on me. Thus, I resorted to the mortal enemy of waves and spirals everywhere -- straighteners. I am not proud of it, but for years, I straightened my hair thinking that straightening was the only way to make it look “bearable” and “manageable”. It was only after a year and a half of straightening my hair repeatedly that I came across the group “Curly Girl Bangladesh By KazriaK”. A platform for Bangladeshi curlies to not only connect and share product recommendations and where to find them, but also containing detailed guidelines and tutorials to the steps to embracing one’s natural hair. It was long overdue, but I was finally ready to take off my armour, put down my flat iron, and own my natural curls.
I've been struggling with my hair for as long as I can remember. When I was 8 or 9, I heard someone saying: “My hair has a mind of it's own”, and I could really relate to that. My dad, one of my brothers, and a few cousins have curly hair. All the curlies I know would wear their hair combed back in a tight bun or braid; I don't remember seeing anyone with their curly hair open. My mom had beautiful hair -- long, luxuriously thick, pitch black, and straight. Pretty much everyone else around me had straight hair. I, on the other hand, had a frizzy and uncontrollable mop that I didn't know what to do with. It was neither curly, nor was it straight. I would constantly be on the lookout for the newest 'frizz-fighting' concoction, and my parents would buy it for me in the hope that it would tame my hair. That's what it was for me -- a beast that needed to be tamed.
Whenever I went to the parlour, I would get my hair styled in soft curls and waves -- it's funny that I never knew that my own hair texture was wavy! In recent years, I had kind of pinned down how to blow dry it into submission, but I wasn't completely happy, so I dyed it, repeatedly, and damaged it beyond repair. It was after a few rounds of bleaching and colouring that I discovered CGM (and my waves) and I haven't looked back since! Over the last year I've cut off the bleached hair, and I'm letting my healthy waves shine!
Growing up, my only wish was to have straight hair. I used to love my natural curly hair as a child, but as the years passed, people made me believe the only beautiful kind of hair is silky, straight hair, and my curly hair was anything but beautiful. I had faced bullying from almost everyone around me, including my classmates, relatives, cousins, even random men on the streets. These incidents would make me question why my hair is like this. But somehow I was determined to never rebond my hair, thanks to my parents. For the past four/five years, I have learned to embrace my curls. I don’t try to tame it down anymore, and my curls are what I love the most about my appearance. I stopped listening to people’s judgemental comments, like “pakhir basha”, “noodles”, or “Kazi Nazrul Islam”. I’ve realized that it’s all about loving yourself. Now I get compliments for wearing my hair naturally. I feel sad when I see many women with beautiful curly hair straighten it just to fit in. We shouldn’t care about what people think about our hair. Natural is always beautiful.