Right around the time I was transitioning, I got my first real boyfriend.
He had a lot of opinions. Unfortunately, many of them were about my hair.
The most prominent, and often repeated one? My hair looked better straight. Actually if you want to get REALLY specific, according to him, my hair line was weird and when I wore my curls it made my hair look extra frizzy.
At the ripe, impressionable age of 17, I believed him.
I was an idiot.
But what’s really blown my mind is how many other people have gone through this. Curl shaming in relationships is a reality.
If you are currently in a relationship, where your partner feels they have some sort of enlightened opinion over your appearance, please know that you are not alone. And that you absolutely do not have to put up with that RIDICULOUSNESS.
Here, I present stories from curly girls about their horrible exes and the unbelievable garbage they said about their gorgeous hair.
I had an ex-boyfriend who treated me differently when I wore my hair straight versus curly. When I’d wear my hair straight, he’d treat me as if I were a whole other person, He’d take me out on more dates, he’d take more pictures of me, he was just extra – but only when I wore my hair straight. Needless to say, that relationship didn’t last long.
“A stupid ex of mine said, “I would love to see how your hair looks straight.” I found out later: all of his previous girlfriends all looked the same. Think Hispanic versions of Kim Kardashian. I straightened my hair for this loser, and ended up totally frying the front. I did some major heat damage and he didn’t even appreciate it.
We broke a couple of months after that. For a year, I had to look at my damaged curls and think of him in disgust. NEVER AGAIN.”
“I dated a guy who was obsessed with me wearing my hair straight. At the time, I also had a friend who loved to straighten her naturally curly hair. One night, while we were out with friends, and I was wearing my hair straight, he brought up my curls, “Why doesn’t your hair look at nice as hers?” he asked as he picked up a lock of my straightened hair. I snapped at him, “Because my hair isn’t supposed to look like this!”
“I was dating a guy who used to make me feel very insecure. He would say things like, “you would look so beautiful with your hair straight, have you tried it?” Or, “I usually like straight hair on girls but yours is okay too!” He even once called me a chia pet! What I finally realized was, if a man doesn’t celebrate me in my natural form, wild day 2 waves and all, then he’s not the guy for me! Needless to say, we broke up. I should’ve known from the first time he said, “Oh, that’s your natural hair?” Yes it is, and I love it!”
I had a horrible ex in high school and he was always very particular about the way I looked (and was the reason I suffered so many insecurities). He would tell me to keep my hair straight because my natural hair looked too ethnic, that I looked too mixed. On days where I wore my natural hair, he wouldn’t even talk to me or look my way. It became deeper than hair. The fact that I looked to “ethnic” for him would make me wish I was fair skinned with naturally straight hair. I stopped tanning in the summer, I became more numb and submissive. I thought there was something wrong with me. Especially at such a vulnerable age. My advice for high school girls or younger girls in general, is to never ever conform to be something SOMEONE else wants you to be. Misery loves company, and if you’re with someone that is telling you “you aren’t good enough” run for the hills, because girl, you are worth THAT and much more, it is him that does not deserve your time or your affection. Nothing is wrong with you. Move on and be happy with someone who accepts you for all that you are, as naturally as you come.
I dated a guy who didn’t like my natural hair. I remember, we went to a formal event, my curls were popping and I felt beautiful. It was a big deal for me, because I wore my hair down and I was still learning to accept and appreciate my curls. My boyfriend picked me up and the first thing out of his mouth was, “You wore your hair down, but you know I like it up?” We broke up shortly after. Learning to accept yourself is hard enough, there’s no reason to be with someone who can’t support you in that endeavor. After that moment I’ve never stopped working on loving my hair and me, and no surprise, I’m now with a man who is just as obsessed with my curls as I am!
Every time I wore my hair curly my ex used to ask, “Where’s the straight Kait?” It was always, “I miss the straight Kait.” His comments led me to believe that I looked so much prettier with my hair straightened. If a partner does this to you, leave them. Anyone that can’t accept your natural look doesn’t deserve to have you! If someone truly loves you, they’ll love you regardless of how you choose to wear your hair. It’s fair for a partner to have preferences, but it’s your body/head, not theirs, so it’s your choice.
“Luckily I’ve been with the same guy since I started wearing my hair curly, he’s been super supportive and encouraging. BUT…I actually ran into one of my exes who only knew me when I relaxed my hair. The first thing he said was, “WOW!! Our break-up must’ve hit you hard, cause you’re walking around with slave girl hair now (insert sarcastic laugh here)” I had no words that wouldn’t result in losing my temper, so I literally gave him a blank stare and was like, ‘Do I know you?’”
Unfortunately all of these stories are true. And not only do they represent unhealthy relationships, they’re real examples of curl shaming. This kind of feedback is a reality for curly girls (and guys). For anyone who currently finds themselves in a not-so curl-loving relationship, where your boyfriend doesn’t like curls, we present advice from some of our favorite curly queens:
Don’t apologize for your curls. Your curls are unique and special, and if they require extra time, attention or accessories, that’s ok.
If a man, one who is supposed to be YOUR man, cannot accept all of you, then “bye, Felicia.” DO NOT be afraid to rock your natural texture.
You will find someone who will love every curl on your head, hold out for that person, it’ll be so worth the wait!
“Be confident in who you are and what you have, even if you’re not 100% where you want to be in your curl journey.”
“Stay strong and defend your curls till the end!”
The moral of all of these stories and advice? Find a partner who loves you in your bonnet or at your Beyonce and hope that anyone who doesn’t goes bald 🙂
Have you ever had a partner curl shame you? How did you handle it? Share your story with us in the comments below.