Friday, March 27, 2009

Ann's Curly Story

This is a beautiful story that goes far beyond hair. Thank you Ann for sharing such an amazing story!
You can feature it or not, but here's my story.  I think maybe it's worth telling and maybe it will help some other curly girl stand up for her curls.  IF YOU HAVE CURLY HAIR, THE PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO LOVE YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR HAIR TOO.   They may not always like how it looks, but they should still love your hair just the same - just because it's *your* hair.   

I was a curly girl from the time I was small.  The genetic lotto between both of my multiple mixed race parents decreed that I popped out with my maternal (Jewish) grandfather's red hair,  my maternal grandmother's (Cherokee) golden skin tone, and father's Welsh ancestor's Hazel/Green eyes.  However, I also got my African American ancestor's curls.  In the infamous words of one of my uncles, "the only color our ancestors were concerned with was pink.  Nothing else really seemed to matter much to them."  My physical appearance is strictly the luck of the genetic lotto that occured during conception.  

When I finally found a man that I settled down with, he didn't like curly hair.  He said it was unruly and told me how much prettier it was when I straightened it.  After much encouragement from him, I finally went more or less permanently straight.  My hair didn't take to it well, but I manhandled it and forced it to be straight.  I just wish I'd known then what I know now.  That was the first of many things about he that he decided he needed to change. Little by little, over the 12 years we were together, he has changed where I work, who I associate with, and what activives I was allowed to participate in.  It wasn't all at once.  You see, if you'd have tried to steal my life in one big chunk, I'd have fought back.  Instead it was one tiny slice at a a time.  

Before I knew it, I wasn't doing any of the things I used to do.  Gone was all the things that I used to do that were fun.  Many of friendships that I had revolved around those activities and so a lot of those friends went with them.    Slowly the relationship changed from one of mutual caring to one of control and emotional abuse.  It was subtle and gradual.   Then when my friends would complain to me about his behavior, he would isolate me from that person.  One by one, I lost almost all of my friends.  There is a scant handful of them left in my life now.  

Things finally reached a head last fall.  He actually had the nerve to tell me that my curls were N-ery and that's why he didn't like them.  He admitted that he had wanted me to straighten my hair so that I'd look "whiter".  Mind you, his family is Cajun - very mixed - so he has no room to be throwing around racist remarks.  When I called him out on it, his reply was that at least he didn't look like a N-.  We fought bitterly over that issue.  It got to a point that at least one of my friends was concerned for my personal saftety, if not my sanity. She staged what amounts to an intervention to point out what he'd been doing.  I'd been so busy looking at the trees, I failed to realize that I was in the middle of a forest.  As a professional therapist, she was well aware of his behavior and she saw the patterns that I did not.  

After what's been a fairly long and some what abusive relationship, I filed for divorce in January.  One of my first acts of "rebellion" against the previous and externally established order in my life was to return to being a curly girl.  Because of that, my curly hair has become a symbol of my newly found and hard won freedom.  My curls are one part of my identity that I supressed and submerged in an attempt to be loveable.  What did that get me?  An abusive relationship that I now have to work to recover from.  Now my curls are a banner.  Any man who doesn't like my curls will be promptly told to take a hike.




  1. wow-that's a powerful and touching story. I wish her the best.

  2. amazing story. it pretty much sums up everything mix-raced and black women have to encounter on a daily basis. i'm to put a link to your blog on mine, i think everyone should read this.

  3. My gosh. And the sad thing is, how many other women have had to deal with this too? This is touching and powerful. I'll be linking.

  4. Wow that is so true that your family members should love your hair in it's natural state, but the funny thing is my husband encouraged me to see my natural hair and I am so glad he did. He didn't force me and at first I didn't like it because I had no ideal how to style or take care of it. But I stuck with and now we look back at old pix and my hair is so much better now. It's actually beautiful. This is a sad yet empowering story. Thank-you for sharing.