Growing up with naturally curly hair


Tjessa Arradondo

Having really curly hair can be tough, especially when you’ve tried hundreds of hair products specialized in keeping your hair under control.

Even though it’s just natural hair, there’s always a sacred story in every braid, lock and curl.

As a kid before school, I would ask my dad to comb through my hair until it was pulled into a tight ponytail.

First, it was because I didn’t like when people touched it, and then it became an insecurity about it getting so big. I didn’t start letting my hair down at school until seventh grade.

Sometimes I let my sister straighten my hair, but after she moved out I didn’t have anyone to help me keep my hair under control.

Instead, my parents took me to Regis to get my hair straightened so I wouldn’t have to go through the pain of combing through the knots.

In eighth grade I hit another obstacle after trying to take a knot out. There was this huge knot and I just let it grow it’s way to my dead ends.

Eventually, every day I took a brush and yanked it through my dry strands (when you have hair like mine you know that’s something you don’t want to do). Because I didn’t have anyone in my house to teach me how to care for my hair the right way, I thought everything was fine. The knot was getting worse and eventually it turned into a dreadlock. There was no other option but to get my hair cut and fixed.

I went with my mom to the hair salon. The barber made an interesting choice with my hair — the front was longer than the back and the sides were uneven. I didn’t understand what she was going for and neither did my mom, but we were so determined to get my knot out that we just let her cut it. At least the knot was out, and I learned my lesson.

There’s obviously more to having naturally curly hair as a person of color, and that is another story. I think being in high school has allowed me to get used to the fact that my curls have so many different textures and patterns.

My experiences with my natural hair have helped me realize the curls on my head are more than just frizzy flyaways. Each day I begin to gain confidence in my curls just a little bit more. I learn to accept the knots and struggles that come with them.