Her hair was curly and untamed, and it lent her an air of slight madness, as though the thoughts in her head were springing directly out through her scalp.
– Shamim Sarif, I Can’t Think Straight
Hair! While first impressions are often based our expressions and words, the fluffy stuff that frames your cute face also plays a role in how society perceives you. More often than not, we play the game. We buy the products; we cut, color, highlight, razor and heat our hair to best suit our personalities. As queer folks, we’re particularly accustomed to playing with these concepts of gender and image. Curly hair comes with its own odd sort of self-awareness. If you have it, you probs learned at an early age that a part of you was already railing against the norm. And sometimes, standing out is the exact opposite of what you want to do. Adolescence can be an particularly awkward series of “Princess Mia Thermopolis breaking a brush” moments. You also realize that most people who love curly hair have never actually had it.
The People Who Have Shaped My Hair
As a kid, my ultimate hair-wish was to have flowing, windswept locks. But instead of moving my hair, the wind just moved things into it. Leaves and berries found dangling from my curls like decorations on a Christmas tree were reminders of days spent running around outside skinning my knees and beating the neighbourhood boys at Cops and Robbers.
I could tell my mom’s mood from how she brushed my hair. My head of frizz was like her personal stress ball, except instead of squeezing she pulled — yanking the brush through my hair until it felt like my scalp was in danger of being torn off.
“Mama!” I’d complain.
“Sit still, stop squirming.”
Closing my eyes and clenching my teeth, I promised myself I’d do more chores in the future.
On good days we’d chat about stories, fairies, the stupid mean kids in my class and God. It was a sacred mother-daughter ritual from which I’d emerge with a nicely coiffed fro, braids, or four puff-balls neatly arranged on my little head, making me look like Minnie Mouse.
My hair still didn’t blow in the wind, but nonetheless, I felt like pretty hot shit.
When I was thirteen and awkward, I decided my hair needed to be straight. I made lots of incorrect assuptions in those days, like that I couldn’t possibly be gay because sometimes I wore mascara.
“Could you just make it straight?” I asked the young hairdressing student. I was at a hairstyling school, you see. Going to a real salon was too expensive.
“There’s no way we’re spending that kind of money on your hair,” my mom had said, just like we didn’t spend “that kind of money” on clothes and designer back-to-school supplies.
“But my friend’s –”
“Do I look like your friend’s mom?”
So there I was sitting in front of the teenage stylist who was nervously eyeing my mass of wild curls like it housed a rabid beast about to jump out at her.
“I don’t usually…um…deal with hair, like yours.” She giggled and hesitantly fluffed out my hair. “There’s just so much of it. I’m going to call my teacher.” The teacher, a wrinkly fifty-something with a fake tan and bleach blonde perm, attacked my hair with thinning scissors like a woman on a mission. It was war — her against my hair — and she yielded those scissors of hers like weapons. I could see her frown in the mirror.
“Not many people have hair this thick,” she said accusingly. “If you want it straight, we gotta thin it down, but I don’t think it can ever be properly straightened.”
Snap, snap, snap went the scissor-weapons, her victims, my curly locks, on the ground like fallen soldiers. It was the scariest hair-related experience I’ve had in my life, and I didn’t even look good afterwards. I had to hide my hair in braids until the thinning-scissor-wounds grew out.
I didn’t let another white woman cut or style my hair until almost a decade later when I was in Montreal. I hadn’t been planning on cutting my hair, but there was a sign in the window of a bike shop that read, “Lesbian Haircuts: $15,” and the hairdresser was sexy in a quiet, hipster way.
“Have you cut hair like mine before?” I asked, having flashbacks of the Mrs. Wrinkle/Fake Tan Hair Attack.
“Of course.” Her blue eyes had a confident twinkle, and I decided she could do whatever she wanted to my hair.
It was amazing. It was fantastic. It was magic. I looked hot, gay, alternative — very Montreal queer-chique. I went home and danced around in my kitchen to Metric.
When I found out I got a scholarship to study in France, I grew out my lesbo-do for Europe. I figured longer hair would be more romantic, would better match the ancient architecture. I pictured myself in long skirts saying lots of “bonjours” and buying baguettes, my hair dancing gently in the wind to the soundtrack of Amelie.
Instead, I got an Afro. But that was cool too.
I haven’t cut my hair since Europe. Maybe it’s weird, but I like thinking about how my hair has been in so many countries and on all sorts of adventures with me. Unfortunately as it gets longer, it also gets more difficult to care for, especially here in Edmonton, a city known for its gigantic mall, not its humidity. While my straight-haired friends complain about grease, I have the opposite problem. There’s a defining moment in every curly-haired girl’s life when she realizes that general hair-care advice is not meant for her. Lather, rinse, REPEAT? Hell, no. I prefer to condition, condition, and moisturise. The other day I found a jar of coconut oil in the cupboard. I filled a cup with it, put it in the microwave and then dumped it on my hair. Another kitchen product that works well is olive oil. In fact, even my favourite store-bought hair products are made with olives. To define my curls, I use Vigorol Olive Oil Mega Moisture Mousse. For a leave-in-conditioner with amazing moisturising power that makes up for its cheesy name, there’s African Pride Olive Miracle Anti-Breakage Formula. Then there’s Creme of Nature Argan Oil. This spray-in conditioner smells so good it doubles as a perfume.
As my hair gets longer, I feel like it’s becoming more of its own being, complete with needs and a personality, but this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I like satisfying its every whim, a bottle of conditioner in hand. It’s the least I can do for the comfort I get knowing I have a curly-haired partner for life, patiently watching me from up above my head.
Straight Until Not
Five years ago, I came out to myself as a person with curly hair. As a kid I had a straight, dirty blond mop that I kept hidden under a baseball cap most of the time. But sometime between puberty and college, my hair got darker and wavier. I hardly noticed and for years was convinced that I had the most unruly straight hair in the world. It wasn’t until my friends introduced me to the wonders of mousse that I even considered my hair might actually be curly. But I found hair products too “girly” and suppressed my secret urge to explore beyond the straight lifestyle — the same went for my queerness, but that’s a story that involves less hair gel. The tipping point was probably when I almost caught on fire while using a flatiron in Hong Kong (pay attention to voltage limits you guys). After that I started experimenting with some hair products and eventually realized that curly hair maintenance was actually much more manageable.
I’m happiest with my hair when it air dries after a swim in the ocean. But since I can’t go to the beach every morning, I rely on some products and rituals to keep it under control. My routine is constantly changing but right now it goes like this: After showering I towel dry my hair just enough so that it’s not dripping anymore. Then I use Garnier Fructis “Curl Sculpting” Gel to twirl out some curls. The gel helps define the curls and minimize frizziness as it dries. Next I put my hair up in a small towel for about 10-15 minutes. During this time I usually get dressed and put on makeup while my hair is out of my face. Then I lose the towel and scrunch in some mousse (I like Garnier Fructis Curl Construct Mousse) to add volume. If it’s cold outside I use a hair dryer with a diffuser to dry it completely. If not, I let it air dry and add a little hair spray if it’s humid or rainy (John Frieda Frizz-Ease is my favorite). If I need to style it when it’s dry, I just add some mousse and try not to stress out when it gets really big. If I’m going out I use more gel and make tighter curls. I’ve been trying to experiment with more natural products, which are supposed to work better with curly hair anyway, but I have yet to find stuff that works better than what I currently use. New England weather can be pretty tough on hair.
What I love about curly hair is that it still looks good when messy and can stay styled for awhile with minimal upkeep. These days I only get a 1-2 haircuts a year so I don’t mind paying a little extra to go to a nice place. Once a hairdresser handed me a thin-toothed comb and asked me to brush my hair out before she washed it. Things did not go well. Finding a hair salon that understands curly hair is crucial!
Long Hair, Don’t Care
This is a love story: Not about me loving other women, but loving my hair and myself.
I love having approximately 3.5 tons of curly brown hair. While other queer girls are perfecting their quiffs and fauxhawks, my incidental butchness is coiled up in my long hair. The curls are a paternal trait; they connect me to the generations of burly Cuban laborers and display my ancestry more than my skin color ever will. My relationship with my hair is comparable to that of Samson, the guy whose superhuman strength was attributed to his long hair. Like him, the longer my hair is, the happier and healthier I seem to be.
At 23, I can endlessly talk about how awesome my hair is, all while enumerating ways you can’t really know me without knowing my hair; how it’ll always let you know when I’ve been behaving naughtily or when it’s about to rain. This wasn’t always the case, though.
I was born with straight hair. I don’t know what the heck happened between the ages of three and five, but my locks went into full-on kinky curly mode. This incident coincided with my newfound obsessions with the Yellow Power Ranger and Moesha Mitchell. It’s possible that my follicles were trying to tell me something: That, like my hair, I wasn’t actually straight.
My hair changed, as was the way I was treated. Tomboy tangles are ten times more painful to remove when your hair type is essentially a spiral knotted around itself. After I became curly, I began spending a lot of afternoons seated, a parental figure standing behind me, yanking a comb through my hair. The quickest way to piss off my nappy-headed six year-old self was to tell me that you wish you “had my hair.” I would’ve happily shaved it off and given it to you, painful detangling sessions and all. Knowing that my hair was his hair, my father taught me to use his gel to prevent both tangling and having to spend more of my precious kickball time under the comb. Along with thickening my scalp and teaching me a hell of a lesson in patience, those chair sessions would later offer me an inkling on how to manage my curls. As a preteen, accepting coiffure tips meant acknowledging that I was stuck with this hair type. I wasn’t ready for that. On the contrary: I was determined to beat the curl out of my girl.
In middle school, I wore my hair in a snug, curl-free bun. I unknowingly fell in love with my hot girl drum major. I brushed the curl out. I dated a boy who resembled Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. In high school, I used a flat iron. I didn’t date anyone. I underwent my first and only relaxer, which held my hair straight for two days out of the promised 60. I spent too much time staring at the cheerleading captain’s hips as she walked across our AP English classroom. I started questioning things about myself. I sneaked around and watched The L Word. I cut my hair disastrously short (just FYI, the Shane cut was soooo not engineered for curly hair).
By college, I’d figured my shit out. I realized what my body wanted: To be with other women. And my hair, well, it wanted to be free, too. My hair grew out; I grew with it. Everything finally felt right.
Shampoo: None! My body does a stellar job of engineering its own natural oils. Shampooing only seems to strip my hair of those while exacerbating the much-dreaded frizz factor.
Conditioner: Pantene Pro-V Medium-Thick Hair Solutions. I’m a co-washer, which means I never use shampoo, just conditioner. I go through this stuff like most people go through gasoline.
Product: While my hair’s still wet and after I’ve run a comb through it, I use Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner followed by Softee Protein Styling Gel. My life is basically an exercise in getting curious looks from other women in the “ethnic” hair care section. Because I live in the Southeastern United States AKA Satan’s Sauna, I cannot get away without using these things. Otherwise, I’ll wind up looking like Monica Geller in that one episode of Friends.
Styling: Air drying, hand teasing, comb teasing, until dry. Shaking my head like a little lion is a personal fave. I also try to refrain from touching my hair after it dries in order to avoid unnecessary frizz and oil build-up.
Embracing the Curl
Like most curly girls, my hair and I have a complicated relationship. I spent 10 years fighting with my hair in what was ultimately a losing battle in every sense. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on straighteners, treatments, special gels, conditioners and supposedly magic shampoos. Countless hours that would’ve been better spent doing important things (like, for example, sleeping) were instead wasted on blow drying, flat ironing and hot roller-ing. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing beauty shop. The problem was that after spending all that money and time on my hair, I didn’t feel any more beautiful than before. Having straight hair wasn’t just about wanting to look a certain way, it was a special brand of self-loathing that consumed me from 13 to 23.
When my hair started breaking off in massive pieces every time I combed it at 22, I finally started looking at my obsession differently. What was the point of having luxurious straight hair if no one could run their fingers through it? I turned to the internet to see what I could learn about repairing damaged hair and kept finding myself on natural hair websites. It took six months of reading sites like blackgirlwithlonghair before I realized that the best way to heal my hair just might be to let it do what it wants to do. As a white girl, I’m fully aware that I’ll never be subjected to racism via hair politics, but the message on these blogs — there’s nothing wrong with the way my hair is — and the advice on handing curly hair was exactly what I needed to hear. Why was I washing my hair every day? Why had I never considered leave-in conditioners or oils for moisturizing? Why didn’t I realize that gels and tight ponytails were causing breakage and a halo of baby hairs? Why was I so convinced that my my curly hair was heinous? Simply put: with the exception of my mother, who had no advice to offer but a deluge of unheard compliments during my teenage years, no one ever told me otherwise.
I’m seven months into growing out a mohawk and letting my hair go wild and free, and I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of things. The two times I straighten during that time didn’t feel nearly as triumphant in the past. Instead of being a fight against nature and myself, it felt kind of like trying on new shoes; different, but not life-altering.
As far as moisture goes, my hairs falls on the insanely dry end of the spectrum and I’m prone to eczema, which makes figuring out a schedule for hair washing tricky. Wash it too much and it loses its shine and my scalp starts getting flaky. Wash it too little and the eczema flares up and itches with all the might of a thousand mosquito bites.
Shampoo: Definitely sulfate-free. I was skeptical about the whole sulfate-free thing at the beginning, but after being given a free bottle at the grocery store and using it for a month, I haven’t been able to go back. Sulfates strip all the moisture from your hair, leaving it feeling squeaky clean. While that clean feeling is nice for a little, it means that a) your scalp goes into overdrive replenishing those chemicals, making your hair unnecessarily oily and b) your curls are going to frizz like nobody’s business. I use Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Shampoo to ward off any possibility of dandruff since I like to go 4-7 days between washes.
Conditioner: Honestly, I just buy whatever’s cheap. I’ve tried the fancy stuff, but I didn’t notice any difference. The real magic comes from what I do before and after I shower. Mainly…
Oils: Oils are what make my hair do what I want it to do. I massage a mix of coconut oil and tea tree oil into the driest parts of my scalp (all around the edges) while my hair’s still wet and coat the ends with coconut oil before it dries. About once a month or do, I treat my hair with hot olive oil for an hour before I shower and then wash it all out before continuing with the rest of my routine.
Styling: Because I’m trying to stay as far away from heat as possible on a day-to-day basis, I usually fall asleep with wet hair or let it air dry. Because bed head isn’t always the exact look I’m going for (and because my hair is in a very special stage of awkward growing out), I rely on bobby pin up-dos during day that, when taken down, leave my curls pretty and well-defined if I’m going out later that night and want to look fancy.
YES COCONUT OIL. it’s magic
i stopped shampooing my hair except for extreme cases about a year ago and it’s the best thing ever. hooray for curls, you guys.
How long did it take your hair to grow back Malaika? My hair is not transitioning very quickly so I have been considering little fro options…or a flat top (jk) to maybe speed up the process. I think I got my first relaxer around the age of 5 and I had my last one in January of 2010. My dream has always been dreadlocks, but I need the crap situation on my head to grow before that is possible. While I have seen coarse hair regrow quickly (I have a brother)I am afraid that if I cut it it wont come back and I will have to wear hats for the actual rest of my life.
Hi Lanie! It took about 5 months for my hair to grow from basically nothing (I had cut my hair super short and dyed it yellow…but that’s a story for another article) to my mini-fro in France. And it took about a year and a half to get from how it looks in that Paris picture to the length it was when we met a camp!
omg you should have a flat top!! haha, but in all seriousness, i’m a big fan of the mini fro. and even if you cut it, c’mon, you wouldn’t need to wear a hat all the time. I’m sure you’d look super cute with really short hair just as you would with dreads!
TWA’s are very cute. Also, the more you protect your hair (scarves,protective styles, moisturizing) the faster and healthier it will grow.
I found that the time spent with my hair about an inch off my head helped me to develop confidence and pride in being a POC. This later transitioned (ha!) into being confident in my queerness. I dare someone to say anything about MC PuffnStuff.
I recommend Shea Moisture. Miss Jessie’s and Kinky Curly are great but you basically need a loan from the bank. sigh.
yes a small bank loan would get me those whoopi dreads I’ve been dreaming of for years in a very short amount of time! I will definately try to step up my moisturizing game before I just give up and cut my hair off. The problem with the haircut is that when I was 13 my older sister got me and my little sister a spa package for Christmas that included the first official haircut of our lives. I left with this super manageable awesome bob and when my Mom saw it she hated it and said for every inch you cut off you have to lose 5lbs… so because I look like a potato I can’t really afford to lose any hair unless I am certain it will return or I crash diet to account for the hair loss. Which seems crazy because it most likely is very crazy. But for cereal, if I could pull off the Fresh Prince Haircut I would totally do it! ;)
I don’t know how to undo those terrible terrible words given to you my your mom but I will say this: it doesn’t have to be your reality. I’ve gained about 40 pounds of stress and anxiety since leaving college. And I wanted badly to cut my hair for a long time, but was convinced, like you that I could not pull off being a bigger girl and having a short fro. Further, I was working in Corporate America in a hateful, hateful position and I was always very aware of the fact that I was the blackest, fattest, most awkward person there.
I’ve since left that job, left my relationship (which is a whole other story), and now I work really really hard to surround myself with a ton of POC’s. Somehow being around black and brown folks as much as possible helps a LOT with how I feel in my own skin. Seeing people who look like me validates me. I’m also very aware that other brown people found me attractive as is.
All that led to me cutting my hair off and I’m now growing a Teeny Weeny Afro (TWA). I’m not always in love with it or myself, but I try damn hard, and also try to leave behind as much of the other terrible terrible judgements of myself.
This is not a morality tale of course… just a: “take heart” and “I hear you”, if that makes any sense. Good luck with your hair journey!
Thank you Chrissye for your kind words. My Mom has said a lot of interesting things throughout the course of my life, quite a few of which are not true. She is of course also honest to a fault and figuring out if she is looking out for me or just being mean is hard to do sometimes.
I think it would fun to give the TWA a go and hopefully it grows back. Plus I could still rock my signature headbands :)
Lanie, you are not a potato, but if you were a potato, you would be my favorite potato.
IF YOU WANT TO CUT IT OFF, CUT IT OFF. I can’t promise how long it will take, but it WILL GROW BACK.
And I really like potatoes so that’s saying something.
I just love you. that is all.
I have straight hair but found this article very interesting. Couldn’t have anything to do with the hot subjects.
why the hell am i just finding this website? fuck i’m almost 30. where were you 10 year ago??
Love this. I never really tried to straighten my hair, but I didn’t understand my curls until college, aka when I started dating women (many of whom had amazing curls and had come to terms with them way before me, and did this very sexy earring-curl-untangling-hair-shake thing while in my room…)
But now I have an ALH so short that I only get waves, and only when I’m weeks overdue for a haircut. I miss curls.
earring-curl untangling! that is a very specific and wonderful thing
wavy-curly hair that was past my knees up until the beginning of high school, and then a little past my hips from there on out. reading this was fantastic! it took so long for me to realize that, while straight hair’s easy for me to manage and looks pretty nice, there’s actually a lot to love about having really long curls. i always get compliments on my hair now, which is SO STRANGE to me, but also pretty awesome.
pro tips: coconut oil is magic, combing out curls makes them very frustrated with you, and a little bit of mousse and hairspray can go a long way. research your hair type and experiment to see what works, rather than wasting time and money trying to work against it. it’s worth it!
Ah this is just what I needed – the motivation to keep going as I grow out my alternative lifestyle haircut!
Shortly after I came out to myself (a ways before coming out to anyone else) I cut my hair short. Since then my hair has alternated between being short and wavy (like it was for much of high school and part of college) and long and wavy (like it is now). It could be argued I need a haircut.
Also there is nothing I like more than having clean hair. I love clean hair and how it makes me feel.
I want short hair again though.
That is all.
Co-washing is pretty much the greatest thing ever. My hair ended up being way curlier than I thought it could ever be (though that could just be because it was also the shortest it had been since elementary school). Olive oil is also great if you can’t get coco butter or coconut oil.
Coconut oil and lemon juice does wonders for dry, itch scalp (make sure to strain the lemon juice, pulp is hard to get out of curls). Often times flaky scalp is caused by a yeast overgrowth, so apple cider vinegar or lemon juice can do wonders. Also, mint tea rinses are decadent. One cup of mint tea with a few drops of rosemary essential oil leaves my scalp feeling nourished and my head smelling like heaven. If you can handle it, cold showers are less drying for your skin and hair.
When I was trying really hard to be male I had what I call hippy hair. It was long and frizzy and I didn’t give a damn. When I transitioned I tried to get it under control but blow drying made my hair bigger than an 80’s back up singer and heavy serums just gave me greasy-looking lank curls. Along with a decent cut (if you’re transitioning come out to a hair stylist first!) ditching shampoo was the best thing ever for my hair. My hair is fine textured and my curls would explode into a halo of frizz at the slightest provocation. Now I just condition daily, scrunch in a little gel and let it air dry and I’m good. If I’m going out I’ll do more styling but I’m really lazy.
deva curl hair products and Moroccan hair creme are amazing for curly hair– they don’t dry your your hair out and also leave it soft, not crunchy.
Yes! I was surprised to not read more use of DevaCurl and Moroccan Oil–these products have totally changed the way I think about my hair. Sulfate free! Get some! http://www.mydevacurl.com/
I remember you asking what my hair routine was back at the airport before camp, but I never got a good chance to explain it.
Basically, I use the cheapest shampoo and conditioner I can find, but I only wash it maybe 2 or 3 times per week. Every day other than those, I just run water through it to get it wet.
After the shower, I towel dry it off just enough so it doesn’t drip everywhere. Then I put just straight olive oil in it. I’ll pour a tiny handful in my hand and and smush it between my hands and then rub it all in my hair evenly. Depending on your hair length, you might need to do another tiny handful. I do two and my hair’s just past my shoulders.
Then I use a hair brush to brush it down straight. Then as my hair air dries, my hair starts to curl and the curls tighten up into occasional ringlets.
Evey, thank you! I remember you saying “olive oil” and me saying “ahhh!” but I’m pretty sure that’s as far as we got. Those curl are beautiful, girl.
I so needed this, I always feel like I need to chop my hair off to get a new gay hair cut because everyone assumes I’m straight because of my longer curly hair! Now I just took notes of some great new tips to work with my crazy hair. I’m the only one in my family with this hair and having only had it long for the past 5 years or so I need all the advice I can get :)
Thank you, thank you!!!
Yes I feel the same way…nearly all my queer friends have gorgeous short hair, and I’m incredibly jealous, both of their gorgeousness and their queer visibility.
I was promised adorable kid-photos, and this delivered. Also, as a straight-haired girl who’s never understood other straight-haired people’s obsession with curly hair, these were really interesting stories. I’m now starting to question my own washing routine…
Growing up as an only child with a single dad didn’t help my hair situation. He didn’t know how to do hair. At all. I didn’t figure out how to properly take care of it until I was 16.
Right now it’s a lion’s mane of super tight brown curls, and I couldn’t be happier with it. I feel weird though because I’m butch-ish, but I have long hair. :/
Also, my friends ALWAYS want to straighten my hair. Constantly. I’ve only let them once, just to appease their curiosity. I don’t get why they say “I love your hair! Can I straighten it?”. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me.
Wow that’s really douchey. That’s like saying “I love your nose, let me give you a facelift!” Don’t appease them because they can’t handle how awesome your hair is.
yuck, i get that too. or people are always asking me what i look like with straight hair. the answer is: really, incredibly boring.
Don’t get me started on those hair straightener kiosks in the mall that only straighten 1 curl and make you look ridiculous the rest of the day by refusing to straighten the rest of your hair until you buy a straightener. #flatironfeelings
Alberta pride! :D I’m in Calgary and I was stoked to see someone posing from Edmonton.
Curly hair is beautiful btw, love to you all <3
Well, I’m stoked to see someone commenting from Calgary! Virtual high-five! <3
THIS POST IS EVERYTHING TO ME. esp your story, malaika. <3
(except now instead of wanting long straight hair, i want long curly hair. i don't think i'll ever actually have either.)
This post is making me 2nd guess shaving my head; I do love my curls. But I don’t love the amount of hair gel & hair spray I go through.
I totally *love* this post. I never thought talking about curly hair would make me so happy lol. I hated dealing with my hair for years, until I cut it off in college. I kept getting relaxers for a while, until I decided to stopp getting them, go natural and rock a tiny fro. Since then, I’ve always had an itch to keep my hair short b/c I’d get tired of simply having to deal with it. Plus, I’ve recently gravitated towards a slightly more masculine style, and felt like it had to be short and kinda neat/not look unkempt to coincide with that. But recently, I’ve been trying to fight the urge to cut it and let it grow out for a year or so. So, this article with all the tips on what other queers choose to do with hair is really helpful and makes me super happy.
I’m another one who was born with straight hair, then it eventually went wavy, then it busted out in corkscrews when I went off the pill (also around the same time I came out to myself), and now seems to have settled down into wavyish curly-in-places-straight-in-others weirdness. It’s probably some kind of metaphor.
Yes, I have this too. I always say my hair is inconsistenly wavy. What do you do with yours? I straighten mine just to make it manageable. Otherwise people ask me – why is your hair wavy in some places and not in others. As if I intentionally styled it that way. Ugh!
Well, most recently I cut it pretty short in a sort of asymmetrical half-bob somewhat like this: http://pics.haircutshairstyles.com/img/photos/full/2010-09/short_asymmetric_bob_haircut484.jpg, and that’s been the easiest so far (mine tends to be straighter in the back/underneath and wavier towards the front). But I do like having it a bit longer, so I’m trying to grow it out again and see if I can stand the hassle… I straighten it sometimes too, and other times I scrunch the straight parts and try to get a bit of wave in ’em.
I stopped using products in my hair (besides shampoo/conditioner) completely about a year ago. My hair is about shoulder-length and super layered, and it basically turned it into a lion’s mane. I have never gotten more hair compliments in my life.
I’m so happy for this post. So many feelings.
I’ve been experimenting with my gender presentation for the last two years. This usually involves shopping in the men’s section at clothing stores. I feel a lot more comfortable with the way I look now, but my hair keeps getting in the way. I hide my long, curly hair in a pony tail so that it looks boyish (in my mind) from the front, but I won’t be able to do that for much longer because my hair’s doing the falling out thing.
Anyway, I guess I’m hoping for advice on how to present as masculine-of-center while still having curly hair. Is it possible to have ALH that incorporates curls? This post makes me want to accept my curly hair and show it off, but I’m not sure if I can do that while still having the gender presentation that makes me happy.
“I guess I’m hoping for advice on how to present as masculine-of-center while still having curly hair. ”
My personal advice that your hair does NOT, I repeat DOES NOT hinder your presentation of being moc. A lot of the moc peeps have long hair and the swag (confidence in who they are) is ridiculous off the charts. Honestly having curls *to me* are totally HOT HOT HOT on people who are moc.
I agree completely. A lot of cis men have long hair, and it can look great on them. So I don’t think presenting as moc depends on hair-length.
I could totally relate to this article, thanks!
@Laura- I also have insanely dry hair and am prone to eczema. I usually shampoo 3-4x a week and use a deep conditioner 5x a week. When I get out of the shower, I always use a leave in conditioner to style my hair and keep the curls tame. I’m so with you on the sulfate-free thing, that stuff should definetly be avoided!
I’m left handed, curly haired and queer and I find I have a really strange love-hate relationship with all three of those. I’ve really come to embrace the curls though. I used to always wear my hair in a bun and not even comb it, but now I almost always wear it loose and comb through it in the shower. Curly hair can really work if you take care of it properly.
I’m a curly lefty, too! :D
i’m left handed too!
Clearly we all need to work on some sort of secret handshake at A-Camp 2k13.
What is this camp, exactly? :) I would love to be a part. I’ve just come out this year (& I’m also lefty & curly) & I’m trying to be more comfortable with myself
What is this camp, exactly? :) I would love to be a part. I’ve just come out this year (& I’m also lefty & curly) & I’m trying to be more comfortable with myself
Also, beautiful ladies, there is a shampoo which retains moisture so that hair does not feel at all dry after use. It’s called “Shea Moisture, Moisture Retention Shampoo” look it up! :) I have very curly hair, some may even call it kinky, and this stuff is a miracle
Yay for curls! I have recently (within the last year or so) stopped using any hair products. I went from using lots of products in high school, to minimal washing and lots of conditioning in university and now I’ve weaned myself off of products. It took a while for my hair to adjust but now it does its own thing and it does it well. I’m pretty sure the suggestions on the bottles to “try with our________ product” are engineered to get you buying more because the formulas leave your hair out of whack and require extra additives/chemicals to get back towards neutral. But, your hair has the power to be healthy all on it’s own! I just scrub really well with my fingers on my scalp every day and pick out the curls in the shower. It dries naturally and feels very healthy. When my scalp is extra dry, I’ve tried a couple of different masks, but haven’t found one that doesn’t leave my hair feeling gross after.
This gives me hope!
This post is so perfect.
I still have a strong love/hate relationship with my hair. I have finally come to love my curls, but I still have yet to find a fool proof method or product that works to make my hair look how I want it to every time.
Also, I’ve always had long hair, but for the last 6 years or so I’ve desperately wanted to go short. Family members and friends have advised me against it so many times saying my hair is either “to pretty to cut off” or as my mother told me, “you have to many curls to cut it short, it will look awful and you’ll look like your dad or a female Will Ferrell.” Those comments have made short hair seem terrifying to me, but it’s still a dream I don’t think I’m ready to give up. Any advice or insight about short or alternative lifestyle cuts for curly/wavy hair? I’m thinking May camp might be the time for me to take that leap….
go for it!!! (see below comment)
re: ALH for curly hair. I’m currently rocking a semi-mohawk (short but not shaved on the side, longer on top and slightly thicker down the back) and it looks awesome. My friend cut it in her front yard and I keep it trimmed myself, which is the best thing about curly hair–it doesn’t have to be perfect! In fact, it looks better with a less-than-perfect cut. The short sides balance out the roundness a lot of curly girls are afraid of when going short, but the longer top allows the curls to still form and is fun to play with/sweep off your forehead when flirting with cute girls. The best advice I have for going short as a curly-haired queer is do not be afraid to err on the ALTERNATIVE side of ALH. The wrong/too conservative short cut can leave you looking like orphan Annie, and if that’s not the look you had in mind, you’ll think you’re doomed to life of headbands and bobby pins. But fear not! The funkier the cut, the better the curls love your face, in my experience.
YES! Just the article I can use!
I’ve been sloooowly trying to figure out the best way to manage my hair. It’s a wonderfully painful combo of nice curls, thin straight sections, and kinky bits with no friends.
I’ve discovered the wonders of tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner (which have done more for my itchy scalp than any other medicated products) and a hairdresser that knows her way around curls and understands that a hairbrush will never again be a part of my routine.
For all you shampoo-less ladies: Was there a horrible adjustment period?? I’ve read on several sites that people hair and scalp became horrendous for about a month after nixing the shampoo.
Also, coconut oil? On it. Thanks for the tip!
I never had any problems at all. My hair and scalp have always felt clean without shampoo. I use plenty of conditioner, gently and thoroughly massage my scalp with my fingertips and then rinse by aiming the water at my scalp and the base of my hair. I’ve never had a problem with an itchy scalp though.
I’ve been shampoo free for a couple of months, and have had no issues. I use bi carb and apple cider vinegar, and it is amazing. The only thing that may have made a difference for me is that I hate showers, so I had been cutting down my hair washing for a long time. So I was only washing my hair every 4 – 5 days when i decided to go poo free. (Admittedly the last day was usually a pretty gross, wear a head scarf kind of day.)
Soooo, if you usually wash your hair a lot, it might be different.
I’ve done the apple cider rinse and that’s been pretty damn fantastic. Maybe I’ll try to switch to that then.
Ha to the head scarf! I’m up to 4 days between shampoos huzzah. though winter might make it easier to get up to five.
Thanks for the info.
That baguette photo is just like 12 puppies worth of cuteness.
My hair’s not curly, but it has a pronounced wave to it that wasn’t at all obvious when I wore it long (mostly because it was always pulled back I guess). When I cut it short I fought this tendency for a long time, until I found a stylist who deliberately worked to intensify the weird swoopiness that happens in front. Now I’m finally into it. And now my stylist has, I’ve just learned, moved across the country so I have to start all oooover again. : /
12 puppies!! Thank you. From now on, I think all compliments should mention puppies :-)
It’s funny I don’t have to tell my story, since it is so similar to Fonseca’s. My hair was straight, then it wasn’t… I used the bun for years, and then straighten it all the time in high school, until I finally learned to let it be… and also after a short haircut that… wasn’t a good idea at all. =)
I do use shampoo tho… because I started not to when I was younger, but someone was so shocked when I told them that I didn’t use it, that now I remember their face and words every time I only pick up the conditioner. They told me that I wasn’t really washing it… which sounded awful, since I had been doing it for years… LOL!
One of the issues I run into having hair between “curly” and “wavy” is that it won’t ever frame my face correctly unless I straighten it. Since I’m trans, and I’m also kind of on the border between passing and not passing (and passing is important to me), something like the way my hair falls on my face can drastically change the number of people who unequivocally clock me in a day.
I would love to go for a more queer or natural hairstyle, but I’m just trying to keep the harassment and self-hatred to a minimum at this point and I’m nowhere near strong or mentally healthy enough to be like “fuck those people who read me as male and have a problem with it!”
I know just what you’re saying. Maybe a different cut or styling product would help. My hair wants to move between curly and wavy depending on the weather. It took me a while to find a style that looked good, could adapt to changing humidity, suited my laziness and also helped me to not routinely get called “Sir.”
I loved this article and feel that it really spoke to me, although sometimes I feel guilty that I can enjoy an article that revolves around beauty and style. As a suggestion, I would also like to recommend that curly people consider donating their hair to Locks of Love (http://www.locksoflove.org/) at some point in their lives, as it is a really great cause and helps children feel better about long term hair loss due to illness. I cut 12″ of my insanely curly hair last year and was so happy to do so to benefit someone else. They probably made 3 wigs out of it. I’ve also been experimenting with short queercuts the last few months and love it! I’m glad that we can share in this experience and come together as a community in this way–the posts were fun to read on this article too.
Nearly everyone with long hair gets badgered to cut it for Locks of Love, which while a charitable company gets way more donations than they need and sells or throws away a large amount of the donated hair. If you want to cut your hair anyway go for it, but growing it to donate is unnecessary.
so when skimming this post and came across the term “co-washer” for the first time, i thought that this might be a role some one might sign up for. like a shower buddy who will wash your hair. what a nice thing. where can i get me one of those?
hahaha i did the same thing.
curly-haired girls played a part in my gay-awakening. I wanna be like her vs. I wanna be with her. turns out I don’t mind my straight hair after all
This article is great. I have such a complicated relationship with my hair and all its different textures. I’m in the process of getting my natural hair back after years of chemicals and I’m finally not afraid to experiment with it. Thanks for this!
My hair loves everything about this post.
I had a conversation with Fonseca about curly hair at camp, and her pro-tips significantly out-pro mine. Also while at camp, my hair and I discovered that altitude is the best thing for non-frizz/upstate New York having all of the weather is god awful.
Malaika, your baby photos are so so so adorable.
Curly hair solidarity here.
My ginger mess has been super long most of my life, but over the past couple years I’ve been learning to rock a short-ish do. I cut my hair myself, usually while drunk, and am still trying to figure out the ideal way to cut it and not look… like I cut it while drunk.
I usually drunk-cut my own hair too, I find it really helps to have a sober person handy to fix disasters.
Curly hair, don’t care! Thank you beautiful ladies for sharing!
I use raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar to wash my hair. This amazing remedy has so many other uses and benefits it’s unreal. Occasionally if I’m feeling really grimy I’ll use Dr. Bronners. The only other thing I put in my locks is coconut oil. It conditions and shines like no other.
Yay I love this post! I only somewhat recently developed a love for my curly hair. Strangely, it was only after I cut off my waist-length locks for a short pixie. Before, I had always tolerated it bc other people seemed to like it, and I refused to straighten it on principle, but I didn’t LOVE it. I’m so happy to be able to say that I finally LOVE my curl and the character it gives me! :D
My hair is a special kind of ridiculous. It’s really curly, and I have a lot of it; but, it’s also white girl thin and fine when I straighten. Basically, I have too much volume when it’s natural, and not enough volume when it’s heat styled.
Lately, I’ve been using Garnier Fructis Curl Calm Down to get the kind of curl that I want. I’m also a huge proponent of Moroccanoil. It’s like miracle juice. I never use those damned diffusers on hair dryers. Ever. Always air dry.
It took me until the ripe age of 22.5 to really accept my curly hair. This was after wearing my hair up in a messy,curly bun for an entire semester. I realized that a lot of people are jealous of the hair I have, and I should probably learn how to appreciate it. YAY SELF-ACCEPTANCE!
laura your childhood picture is adorable. that baby looks PISSSSED.
i started co-washing after the article here on poo-free lifestyles! put a quarter cup (ish) condition in my hair (something cheap- industrial sized suave or tresemme) and leave it for 5-15 minutes, depending on how long i accidentally nap in the shower. rinse it out, squeeze out as much moisture as i can with my hands, and finger comb a dime sized amount of the same conditioner through it. scrunch a little bit with a paper towel (regular bath towels tend to grab my hair and make it too frizzy- tshirt material also works well) and don’t fucking touch it. i have crazy wavy-curly hair. this makes it soft, curly and shiny!
years of fighting my hair are totally evened out by my beautiful natural hair now. i do want to try coconut oil though….
Hello girls, I have been stuck for a couple of weeks now, wondering how to cut my hair short. You see, I have long brown curly hair that is extremely sensitive, and that uncurls after only one day of running around streets and corridors. My question is, how does one get a shot, stylish but curly hair-cut ? What shape, what length etc ?
This post is my everything.
I have hair that’s so curly it makes hairdressers run away. (This has actually happened before in real life.)
I cut short about a year ago and I’m so glad I made that decision. A curly pixie cut (or fro-hawk as my friends call it) is definitely possible, and it’s so easy to care for. I wash it before bed, have it dry while I’m sleeping, and then fluff it a bit when I wake up and off I go. Plus, after cutting my hair, it’s not too poofy to wear hats anymore, so I can have my curls peak out from beanies when the weather gets cold.
I just love the idea of not-straight hair relating to not-straight identities and the way that hair grows with us as we grow as people and I just have a lot of hair feelings