Straightening. This was one thing I was obsessed with when I was younger. I would get it done every six months since I was nine years old. I remember the first time I did it: I was excited to go to school because of my newfound confidence rooted in my slightly stiff but newly straightened tresses. Maybe they would stop teasing me about my curly hair, right? Wrong. I was so upset and disappointed that my new hair didn’t make a difference with the way people treated me.
The curls would grow back anyway so I would be left with hair that was curly at the roots, pin-straight at the bottom. At the third-month mark, I would itch for a straightening already but I wouldn’t be able to get one yet because I would need to let my hair “rest.” I was fighting with my hair every single day for seven years. I just couldn’t get it to agree with me. I tried it all: straightening, rebonding, relaxing. I soldiered through it even if it took hours of sitting in a salon chair with my hair being constantly tugged on with an iron and my scalp burning from the chemicals.
When I was 15, I made a decision that would liberate me. I decided to get my hair curled when it was due for straightening. This process let me grow out my natural curls without it looking too awkward. I picked the tightest curl the salon could give me so that my relaxed hair could blend with my natural hair growth. A few inches at a time, I cut off my treated and damaged hair until I was left with healthy, curly hair.
Though that was a start, the struggle did not end there. Having curls was brand new territory. I didn’t know how to style them or have them cut. I didn’t know how to take care of them. I turned to the internet for help, and it took me years of trial and error to discover techniques, products, and cuts.
I’ve spoken with celebrity hairstylist Mong Amado of Artists and Co. for tips on styling and caring for curly hair: “The common issues with curly hair are tangles and frizz. You can manage these with leave-in conditioners, natural oils, and serums,” he explains. He says that curls are fun to work with and he enjoys intensifying and defining them. I asked him about the perks of curly hair and he answered, “Curly hair looks youthful on all ages and it's much easier to groom.” His biggest advice for girls, curly or not, is to embrace their hair's natural texture and focus on enhancing and caring for it instead.
That said, I couldn’t agree more. I realized that in the years that I’ve been fighting my hair and forcing it into an unnatural shape with harsh chemicals, both my hair and I weren't happy. But now that I've shifted my focus on keeping my mane healthy and strong, I have to say that I couldn’t be happier. Sure, it’s big, poofy, and not the best sport at handling Manila's heat and humidity. But it is what I was given, it is mine, and it deserves utmost love and care.