Show Off Your Curls


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly try to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Growing up, I never had that sense of fitting in. I was always the tall, awkward chick with the curly hair. I was quiet and shy as a child, so that’s how people knew me. I wasn’t any good at sports and I definitely wasn’t in the “cool” crowd. Within my little group, we called ourselves the weird ones.

Then came college and all I wanted was to find a place to fit in. So I joined the Frisbee team, but my lack of athletic ability just accentuated my gawkiness. I tried to hang out with the girls on my floor; I went out with them once, and never again. Finally, I saw a flyer for sorority recruitment. Clearly I’m not the classic sorority type. What would I have in common with a bunch of sorority girls?  I don’t go tanning and rarely straighten my hair, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to go to the interest meeting.

At the meeting, we heard from the president of the Panhellenic Council, gorgeous, blonde, eloquent. She spoke so passionately about the amazing experience she had as a part of the Panhellenic community, though, I just had to rush.

To my surprise, I actually got into one. I wasn’t in the top tier sorority, far from it, but it was a group of women who supposedly had a set of admirable values. To me, it was a group of built in friends, philanthropic opportunities and a resume booster.

I tried, but I still didn’t fit in well. I had different values then those that I was expected to represent. Waking up two hours early to get ready and picture perfect for my 8am class all the way across campus just wasn’t going to happen; it’s not who I am to look like perfection every time I leave the house. I get that looks are important, but I’ll never wake up extraordinarily early to straighten my curls just because it’s what most others think is “pretty.”

However, I’d always get so many compliments when I straightened my hair, it must’ve gotten to me. For my senior year, I got a keratin treatment for my hair, which keeps hair permanently straight for up to six months, if taken care of properly. I told myself I did it because it made my hair so much easier to deal with, which it definitely did, but really I think I wanted to feel accepted. I wanted to be something other than the tall, awkward chick with the curly hair. I tried to dress up more and wore a pound of makeup daily, but no matter how conventionally pretty I was on the outside, I was miserable.

A few months later, after graduation, I set off for what ended up being a life-changing trip to Israel. By then, the keratin treatment had begun to wash out, one dip in some salt water and my curls would be back in full force.

I spent ten days in a foreign country with a large group of people I’d never met before, yet I’d never felt more comfortable. I wasn’t the one with the weird curly hair, because everyone had crazy curls. One of the first days in Israel, we went to the beach for an afternoon in the sun. Without a second thought, I ran into the water with my new friends and bathed my hair in the salty Mediterranean Sea. There was no way to tame the curls in the humid Israeli heat, yet when they dried, I felt beautifully vulnerable and completely myself.

I graduated college with no job and little direction. That summer was the season of travel and discovery for me. I realized the beauty within myself and started to actually believe that being myself is enough. My Israeli experience, along with the wonderful people I met, gave me confidence in myself that I’d never had before.

Now I’m proud to show off my curls. How will you show off yours?

Photo by Eloïse L

13 thoughts on “Show Off Your Curls”

  1. Lyssa,

    Great article! Thanks for Sharing!

    I too found my place when I first ventured outside my country (I waited until I was 28). It is amazing what can happen when you get away from the cultural, societal, family and peer limitations that you were brought up in. Living in and exploring other countries gave me the same thing it gave you ~ “I realized the beauty within myself and started to actually believe that being myself is enough.”. My best education ever!

    1. Hi Carolynne,

      I’m so glad you could relate and enjoyed. Being yourself and finding the beauty within is such a difficult lesson to learn, but it’s an important one! Travel is a great way to discover oneself. Around different cultures, societies and people, you have no one to depend on but yourself. It’s a great learning experience!

  2. It is so true and i really enjoyed reading this articale , for the reality to life if you are not comfortable in the way you have been , created and completed by GOD . Nothing you do will make you happy and allow to find yourself , you are what you are by the grace of God .

    1. So glad you enjoyed, Omar. Sometimes it just takes a little time and self-discovery to fully accept and love yourself. You are perfect, just the way you are.

  3. Loved reading your post. I identify with that in the opposite way. My hair is straight and thin and I always wanted thick hair with curls. Having to deal with how we are and look can be very challenging for many. When we reach that moment of acceptance and are able to focus on more important things, the world will open up for us. The things that weighed us down no longer are uppermost in our thoughts. Instead, we realize our beauty comes from within. It’s great to be reminded of this once in a while. Your article did just that for me. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Isn’t it funny how we always want what we don’t have? But when we accept and embrace our perceived self-flaws, we can achieve our full potential.

  4. Your inner beauty shines forth and needs no keratin treatment. I believe you discovered this while in Israel, but, I leave you with this thought; “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”~ Anais Nin

    1. Thank you, Chas. That is an absolutely beautiful quote, and so true. I now embrace my curls. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed. This is who I am. I don’t have to live up to anyones standards except my own.

  5. Lyssa,

    What a great story. It can be challenging to just be yourself when so many are telling you differently. We forget that if we don’t find our own beauty, why would we expect anyone else to. See, I have straight fine hair. I get jealousy of those with curls, in a good way. Isn’t it funny how we always think the grass is greener on the other side. Susan

  6. Hi Susan,

    “We forget that if we don’t find our own beauty, why would we expect anyone else to.” How true! I’ve struggled a lot with self acceptance, as I’m sure many others have, but sometimes all it takes is some self-love and positivity to find the beauty within. We always want what we don’t have, but when we learn to embrace our self-perceived flaws and insecurities, others begin to love and embrace them as well.

  7. Lyssa,

    Thanks for your inspirational post.
    It takes courage to say no to what’s popular and being yourself.
    And once you do this, an amazing thing happens. Sure you alienate some people, but you pull towards you those who really matter. Those who you really want in your life.

    I think it’s no accident that you went through this transformation on your trip to Israel.
    It’s the colorful assembly of people in Israel that helps everyone fit in and feel at home.

    1. I completely agree with you when you say you alienate some, but attract the ones who matter. When you start to be yourself instead of pretending to be someone you’re not, you gain some really amazing people and loose the fluff.

  8. Wow …that is a story i totally relate too. Once I hated my curly hair myself being extra tall for my friends and my bugs bunny tooth. But I came out of my closet and finally came out as “Miss Fashion Diva” of my batch in my engineering college. Hell yeah I did it :D

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