Curlies: Love Your Curls

If you have curly hair, you have undoubtedly experienced the struggles that come with maintaining it. For many of us curly heads, growing up with this natural hair type was confusing, even upsetting. How come people around us had straight, sleek hair, yet we had frizzy and ‘rough’ hair? We experimented with products and hair cuts, only to realize years later that our hair type is very unique. Each curly head has a specific curl pattern type, and even then, every curl is different from the other. One of the many curly heads who struggled with understanding her natural hair type while growing up is Aya Saras. Aya is a 21-year-old student of Multimedia Design at the University of Jordan, and like many, including myself, she spent the majority of her childhood struggling to accept her naturally curly hair.

Aya describes her hair today as the healthiest it has ever been.

“I don’t even think I was aware in my much younger years that curly hair was a natural thing that many girls around the world had, and that straight hair was not the norm or the standard. Everyone around me in media, commercials, cartoon characters and even women I would see in the street had straight hair, and I was unaware that most of these women probably straightened their hair,” Aya said, elaborating on how she never realized her hair was not something that needed to be fixed or straightened for it to be considered ‘beautiful, but rather embraced.

Aya’s hair while it was chemically straightened.

Aya’s childhood resonates with mine. Curly hair was not a norm for me while growing up, and it always made me feel insecure and lacking. I remember vividly when I was eight years old, my family and I were in a park and I had lingered behind them to play around the steps. At that age, my hairstyle was a low ponytail and a bandana to keep my baby hair in place. It was dark at the park, and approaching behind me I could hear a boy and a girl laughing and talking. “Oh my God, look at this girl and her bushy hair,” I heard this and ran. I was scared, humiliated, and my insecurities rose. The only memory I had from that day at the park was this incident, from two people whose faces I didn’t even get to properly see.

Unfortunately, comments as such didn’t just come from people like this, they also came from hairstylists. “I have no memory of any hairstylist that I’ve ever gone to ever encourage me to keep my hair natural. They advised me multiple times to chemically straighten it. It started off with just using heat on it, even one stylist recommended that I use heat continuously until my hair ‘forgot its curl pattern’ and became, according to her, straight. I now realize that it would have become damaged, not straight,” said Aya. It’s true when we were younger, not many in our region were educated enough about how to deal with curly hair, and the only solution was to keep it straight. Aya fell victim to these poisonous thoughts and opted for chemically straightening her hair from grades sixth to ninth until it started looking unnatural and hair loss was quite prominent, “I remember the last time I straightened my hair a big chunk of it fell into my lap while she [the stylist] was doing it, I was about to cry. That was when I decided what I’m doing cannot be the solution,” she added. How I dealt with my hair until I discovered I needed to treat it better? It was always in a tight bun.

My natural curl pattern today.

Aya and I met in 2014, about the same time both of us took the decision to finally put individual effort into understanding the nature of our hair. Our journey was long, and it took us until today to really give our curls what they need in order to flourish. We lacked the confidence to venture on our own and look at our hair differently, but today, I can say on the behalf of both of us that one of our best features is our hair. It’s considered part of our character traits! Seeing how the Middle Eastern region is catering for curls and many influencers are now advocating to stay curly is a childhood dream both of us needed to see, and our hope is that it continues and inspires today’s little curly girls to embrace their hair.

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