Growing up, I used to hate my curls. Hate is such a strong word but that’s exactly how I felt from the very beginning. I always had very curly hair – closed tiny locks kind of curly, which I didn’t like because they would be so hard to deal with. Hard to detangle, impossible and extremely painful to brush, very complicated to style. This must have lasted until I was 6 years old, when all that mattered to me was the pain it caused me while brushing. Other than that I didn’t dislike curly hair. It was what I was born with.
At 6 years old, more or less when kids leave kindergarten and start going to school, I officially started disliking my hair. I´m sure you can guess the reasons… Kids make fun and say mean things that stay for a very long time stuck in your head, making you question everything. On top of that, my hair was shoulder length but because it would curl up so much, it looked even shorter. For a little girl who dreamed about growing her hair, going to the hairdresser was a nightmare. Why? I never had a hairdresser who knew how to treat curly hair.
I started to question why the hell I had such terrible locks when everyone around me had sleek straight hair. I believe the key word during this phase would be different. My hair was different and didn’t want it to be, because it was making me feel different. I needed to come up with ideas to tame the damn curls and make them, at least, wavy.
Around 10 I got really tired of my daily struggle and constant nicknames. I remember it was shortly before a tennis practice that I started to use my William pale pink cap differently. I tied my hair up in a ponytail and it didn’t seem so bad. What if I used my hair in a ponytail outside the practices as well? There was only one obstacle – the frizz. How could I possibly stop it? That’s when I found out aqua based gel. You couldn’t even tell it was there and my hair would be tamed.
But this story couldn’t really end here, right? Poor oppressed curls up in a ponytail?
In fact, in the following years I came up with several ideas to make my very curly hair wavy. Wavy wasn’t so bad compared to tight locks… I would braid it to sleep only to untangle it in the next morning, I would twist my hair in low buns, pigtails, anything that would leave my hair less curly.
After many hairdresser disastrous cuts (let me tell you, there are a LOT of people around there who shouldn’t be in this business AT ALL), lots of ponytails and braided hair after, I finally tasted what was like to have straight hair, at 14. It revealed a hidden blonde color I had never seen before (because it would open up the locks) and I was quite happy with the soft texture. I was determined to make it permanent. Lucky me, no one allowed me to do so and I only had straight hair for my prom night.
When I was around 16 I decided to make a commitment. I was going to embrace the curls and take proper care of them. It was enough. You probably thought I had this amazing super inspiring “ah-ah!” moment but nothing really inspired me to do so. To me, it was a matter of acceptance. I was so tired of struggling and hating what I saw in the mirror.
And so my journey began. I learned about my curl type, I tried many different products, I started to style and define my curls the proper way, I learned from other girls with similar hair. And you know what? It was working. My curls were reacting perfectly, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do and when, which products to use, etc. The results came quickly because I didn’t really have damaged hair (I didn’t straightened it on a daily basis, I never dyed it, never even done highlights in my life!).
Around my first year in college, I decided I wanted bangs, when all I wanted was to change something in my life. I blame college. Oh boy, what a dumb decision… That was, for sure, the most stupid hair decision I made in my entire life. Why? Because to avoid using irons everyday, my bangs were permanently straightened with a rather aggressive product. I took me a long time to make it normal again but I sure learned my lesson.
When I started to take care of my hair my first thought was that I was going to look like a lion, I would most certainly be different when all I wanted was to blend in and the nightmare would start all over again. But I didn’t really care about other people’s thoughts anymore. And so the reactions started and they were the exact opposite of what I thought – people would tell me that I looked like myself, that seeing me with real curls was so refreshing and that they wish they had curly hair (of course, no one is happy with what they have).
16 year old Filipa had to do it all by herself but nowadays you have so many inspiring people who are sharing wonderful tips and tricks to help you embracing your curls, specially on the internet. I’ve met amazing people through instagram who share daily their routines (the good, the bad and ugly!), the products they use, techniques, so I would definitely encourage you to check those girls and their accounts.
Accepting who you are is a lifetime process. Having distinguish features can make you feel extremely uncomfortable – and make no mistake, we all have them. Learning that those features are what make you unique can be hard but let me tell you one thing – it is so worth it.