For better or worse, my curly hair screams of my mixed Spanish-Irish heritage. It’s dry and brittle in the winter, but ’fros into a lion’s mane come summer. Even though I love my hair, my Shirley Temple tresses receive mixed reviews from my peers. Living in a posh Washington, D.C. suburb teeming with Abercrombie-clad teeny-boppers, most of my classmates brandish sleek, bleached hair. But I’m all natural, baby.
The less vicious gals eye my hair with an expression of slight disgust but don’t openly criticize my Robert Plant look. The bolder, however, stop me in the hallway and exclaim, “Ugh! Your hair is so frizzy!”
Years of self-training have taught me that no reaction is the best approach. When I hear, “Have you ever straightened your hair?” the question is almost apologetic, as if the gal’s trying to compensate for her rudeness.
“No,” I say and pause. “I like my curly hair.” I’ve decided that there’s no need to counter ignorance with ignorance, and usually refrain from being rude. After all, I don’t have to defend my curls if I’m proud of them. I like them and that’s all that matters.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.