Curly hair, red lips, cat eye and black shirts pretty much defined my teen years. To this day people remember this as my signature look. But when it comes to my hair, my memories were very different than most. I went to a predominantly Irish elementary school during the 80s, so having big teased hair was the thing. I didn't have to do much to obtain that look. The bigger, the better. Hello, Bon Jovi anyone? Never Say Goodbye was our 8th grade prom song. There was a lot of giant hair at that party and I fit right in with my equally flamboyant taffeta pink dress. Luscious curls were also all over the pages of my of 17 magazines so it was something I celebrated with confidence and style (well, as much as one could have at 13). Oddly enough, when I got into high school (I chose a school with a heavier Latino influence to be more involved in my cultura), I was teased for having "big" hair. What?! Turned out, big curly was not as celebrated. It was all about cutting it short, blowing it out or slicking it back into the tightest pony tail anyone's scalp could take. The girls called me "wiggy". Ya, wiggy. Talk about creative, eh? The response to my hair was a huge surprise to me. My mother, who has pin straight, always loved my locks so I had no idea what the deal was and why some of the Latinas in my school were hiding their beautiful hair. It wasn't until years later that I started to see/understand the complexities of hair talk in the Latino culture. It was all about looking polished or "fino." Getting dressed for the holidays or an event meant that your hair got the sleek look too. And if your hair was curly, it was kept really tamed. No shape, no movement.
It's only recently that I've experienced the beauty (thank you internet) of Latinas celebrating their gorgeous hair the way it is by setting it free (For ex., Risas Rizos, Daily Curlz, Sunkiss Alba). Now these women have some seriously flawless curls. Their hair game is tight. Where were they when I was in HS? Well, I think they were toddlers at the time (if that) but they too have had their share of processing stories, and have written about it on their blogs or talked about it on their Youtube channels. Carolina of Miss Rizos touched me so much with her video about beauty, identity and empowerment ... and speaks of exactly what I experienced in high school. I blow dry my hair a lot. But it's not because I have anything against my curls. I feel just as beautiful with my hair wild and free, and I think it's pretty darn cool that I can try different looks. The key is finding the right products. I want the curl without the sticky feel. I want my curls to last and not go flat. Because if I'm going curly, it needs to be full on curls with no apologies. I usually use coconut and avocado oils in my hair but I gave Dove's Quench Absolute line a try (thank you Dove!) and I must admit they got it right. In fact, their products are so good, it comes with an entire campaign focused on loving you hair. The #LoveYourCurls campaign also comes with a poetry book by best-selling author, Taiye Selasi and illustrated by award-winning illustrator, Annick Poirier. You can download this lovely #LoveYourCurls book and dedicate it to that special curly hair girl (or boy!) in your life.