I love straight hair. Straight here is just the prettiest. My hair unfortunately, isn’t that straight. Every morning, I brush it out until my arms ache, but my stubborn curls just don’t get a hint. Still somehow, even if it takes me an extra hour to get ready, I manage to doll myself up into straight-hair-me. And God forbid I ever wake up late, because then my whole day will surely be a disaster. Apprehending the calamity that would follow my misfortune, I frantically tie my hair back in a desperate attempt to make it look as straight as possible. Even so, my confidence sinks and my self esteem shatters. As I kept growing up, it only became clearer. I don’t like my hair, I don’t trust it.
One dreadful day, I didn’t have time to straighten my hair before a concert and my confidence plummeted down to an all-time-low. I was convinced that today just wasn’t my day, until (to my surprise) I was greeted with compliments about my curls. That night, I saw my hair in a whole different light, and began wondering what it was that ruined my relationship with my hair in the first place.
Growing up, I’d always idolized Disney princesses, envying their silky, long hair. After all, it's not like Cinderella or Rapunzel had curly hair. Back then, there was no Moana or Merida (from Brave) that I could look up to. It wasn’t what I’d grown up watching. The curly hair was always the before and never the after as Anne Hattheway so aptly portrayed in The Princess Diaries. The curly-haired girl was never the protagonist and was, at best, the side-kick. She was the Gretchen Weiners envying Regina George in Mean Girls; the Tai trying to be like Cher in Clueless.
Even after learning to love my curls, an unwelcome comment can reignite the disharmony in my mind and remind me of what I used to think as a kid. Recently, I went for a haircut to one of Lahore’s most renowned hair stylists. I watched in horror as, after cutting my hair, she sent two girls to attack my curls with hairdryers and straighteners, so that the end product was dead straight hair. This happened even after I asked them not to use heat on my hair, and tried telling them to leave my hair curly. I was shushed as they tried to convince me there was no way I’d be able to ‘tell the cut’ if I left my hair curly.
This made me think of the lack of accommodations and the general negative attitude people have towards curly hair here in Pakistan. How much of it is caused by the media? It’s extremely hard to find products that are suitable for curls or hairdressers who understand how curly hair works. Nevertheless, there is surely some progress. Products for curly hair are being locally produced by companies like Coco Curls after the ‘curly girl method’ of hair care has taken the internet by storm.
Now when I wake up, I don’t wish I had straight hair. I’m learning to transcend the templates for beauty I was exposed to all my life and love my curly hair more and more everyday.