Curly Hair Don’t Care


Me: No, I don’t have a perm.  My hair is naturally curly.

Every Other Person: Do you know how many people pay good money to have curls like that?

I have lived this conversation my whole life, many times, and not just when I go to a new salon. My curls have been a blessing and a curse.  

curly hair kid

When I was little, I HATED getting my hair brushed to get all the “rats” out of it. My Sunday night ritual was to sit on the floor at my mom’s feet while she put huge plastic curlers in my hair. Then guess what? I had to sleep with them on. Talk about torture, but at least in the morning, it wasn’t tangled. The other popular hairstyle my mom would do was a classic ponytail, but I had to sit there while she twisted ringlets around her fingers. At a very early age, I learned patience.

When I was in first grade, I begged to get my hair cut short so I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.  I loved the haircut, but I know my mom shed some tears. I had a nice afro going on because in the 1970s and 1980s there were no real styling products (except the hot pink hair gel that everyone used), but, somehow, I managed. During the 1990s, when all of my friends were using blow dryers and curling irons, I stayed far away. Blow dryers only made things worse and my hair would get tangled in a curling iron. Finally, in the late 1990s, as more styling products were coming on the market, I began to embrace my curls. And for once I was able to find cute styles in magazines and online that I was willing to try.   

Finding a stylist who knows how to cut curly hair has always been hard because cutting curly hair is not easy. Fortunately, I’ve been lucky. Occasionally, a stylist will be bold and ask if he or she can straighten my hair (never with chemicals—I wouldn’t allow that).  I think most of them want to see if they are up for the challenge. The straight hair would last for all of about ten minutes until I walked outside, the humidity hit it, and it curled right back up. 

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When I had my kids in 2005 and 2006 my hair got curlier. I never thought that would be possible. And (un)fortunately for them they both have some of my curls. Neither one of them will let me help them style their hair no matter how many times I ask or how many tips I share. I guess they will have to learn on their own rather than from my experiments.

Right now, I’m loving my curly hair.


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Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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