Curly Hair: Tangles and Torment

Featured Illustration: Ylli Haruni


Frizzy strands peeking out of every hairstyle, knots within minutes of brushing, endless oils applied to subdue the volume — as a young girl, I despised my curls. 

Everyone in my family has straight hair; perfect for styling and easy upkeep, a formula I would eagerly trade for my precious headbands and clips. My cousins and sisters would pull and tug eagerly, inquiring why my locks were so bushy, so dry, so big. 

Hair is a girl’s safety blanket.

She wears it with pride to complicate her creative fashion choices and personality. While my bold character was always emanating, I didn’t carry that confidence with my hair; I clutched it tightly in ponytails and braids attempting to shrink it, to minimize its presence from the onlooker. My favourite Disney stars, and celebrities, my best friends, and cousins all had beautiful, silky waves — I accepted beauty was not diversity, beauty was uniformity. 

This insecurity haunted me for years until I chose to wear the hijab, the Islamic head covering for women, designed to highlight modesty and represent submission to God. Every day, I would wrap my scarf with eagerness — a new day meant a new colour, a new fabric, a new mood to embody. While I accepted this fresh spirit, I proceeded to further negate my curls and spiral into years of horrible hair care and hair loss, further exacerbating my insecurity. 

This pandemic has proven to be a major revival for us all — spending 4 months locked in your own thoughts can be monumental or detrimental to mental and physical health. I was challenged with an issue I had deemed insignificant for years and I felt uncomfortable about — my hair wasn’t hidden from me and it was in the unhealthiest of states.

Yet I chose to want change — to feel confident like other girls and have pride in my unique twists. My dad had always asked me, “People spend money to get their hair like yours, so why do you feel unspecial?”

It’s a miracle what good quality shampoos and conditioners can do. In the comfort of my home, I wear cute clips, shake my tight twists and adorn open hairstyles, braids, and buns. I take pictures of myself on good and bad hair days and feel a sense of relief — my hair is slowly getting back to normal. 

Finding love for my hair didn’t mean removing my “oppressive” hijab as many would assume — I wear it with even more pride knowing that I’m confident under and over my scarf.

Your insecurity may not come in the form of hair, like mine. Stretch marks, acne, body weight, facial structure — the things we hate are endless. Yet, I’ve come to understand that self-confidence comes with self-care — making yourself feel like you matter overrides the perception of others. 

Give yourself time to accept yourself.

Beauty is not uniformity, beauty is diversity.

Haleema Ahmed

Reader | Writer

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