I Have Naturally Curly Hair

I'm the youngest of six, five of whom are female. Hair is a big thing when you're growing up Cuban. I was born with a big, unruly mop of natural curls.

Here I am at 6 years old in all my newly-arrived-from-Cuba glory with my freshly-coifed-by-Mirta-de-Perales-herself afro. My mom seriously did not know how to parent a curly haired child. (Not blaming. Just stating fact.)

My perception, when I started the first grade in Miami was that I was different. My language, my family's customs, my food - all different. My naturally curly hair made those differences more pronounced. Even as I wrote that last sentence, I still experience a twinge of pain as I remember the feeling of "otherness," but that's not important right now.


I came of age in the late sixties and early seventies. In my early high school years, the flip was the hairdo of choice and I had learned from my older sisters how to "set" my hair. In Spanish, we called the curlers, moños. And Saturdays would find all of us in our curlers and hairnets. The word for hairnet is "redesilla."


My sister, Miriam rocking those giant hair curlers and her "redesilla." Circa 1967

You know what Spanish word is fun to say? Redesilla. You're welcome.

Here I am when I first started high school. There was a way to comb out your rolled hair into a perfect flip if you had enough body. We curly-haired people had all the body. Be jealous.


But notice how the rest of the hair had to be perfectly smooth? We used to buy Dippity-Do by the gallon. (I know. Shut up.) 

The flips of the early sixties soon gave way to the perfectly-straight-parted-down-the-middle Flower Child look. I remember reading a teen magazine that gave the dubious summer beach advice: "If your hair is curly, live in your room." Seriously. I'm sure it was a tongue-in-cheek piece, but those words burned deeply into my very tormented 15-year-old soul.

So I spent years (years, people!) hating my hair for not playing nice and getting along with the other kids.

I wrote (and made a video) about getting a Brazilian Blowout here: The Taming of the Do. (Don't judge.)

By the summer of 2012, I was burned out on the years of straightening and fighting and taming my hair. I serendipitously had two friends tell me I should go back to my natural curls. I made an appointment with a local salon called Curls on Top in Laguna Beach.

I wrote all about my friends and their intervention and the beginning of my Curl Recovery here: Jesus and My Hair.

It was just a few weeks ago, nearly 18 months since I started My Curly Hair Journey that my hairdresser finally cut those last few strands of straight pieces off forever. I suppose I could have cut all my hair off über-short and started from there, but we, People-of-The-Round-Face have to be careful about those kinds of spontaneously bad decisions.

I kept accountable to my friend, Carrie by taking "selfies" of my Curly Hair Recovery Process. Today I'm sharing the magic with you.

(Also, please appreciate that it's difficult for me to share my curly struggle so publicly. Be kind.)


This is me, totally embracing my Curly Awesome.

If you have any questions about going from straight back to your natural curls, please feel free to contact me. I'm totally a Curly Hair Evangelist now.