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The Girl With the Curl

Song Lyric of the Day:

Curly, curly hair / How I love my  hair / How I simply want to brush my hair / I simply love my curly hair / I want to wash my curly hair

Hawkeye and Hoe / “Curli Hair

I have a daughter with curly hair, the kind of curly hair with Shirley Temple-like spirals, that garners her lots of attention. It’s almost become the stuff of legend at this point. I exaggerate, of course, but not by much. Because outside of visits with family and friends, I have yet to take Coraline anywhere and not have people comment on her hair. People either comment directly to us or we hear whispers along the likes of “Look at that little girl’s curly hair!” as we pass by. If we got a dollar every time someone comments on her hair, we would already have a year’s worth of college tuition. At least.

Wrapped Up

Coraline had straight hair fresh out of the oven.

When Coraline was born, she had straight jet-black hair, very strongly resembling my Mexican maternal grandfather. Once her hair thinned out (don’t you just hate how babies’ hair does that?) it grew back in lighter. I remember the exact day it started to curl: It was the day of her cousin Stephen’s second birthday party. Coraline was about 6 1/2 months old. At first Rich and I thought Coraline’s hair had just curled/kinked up due to the humidity; Stephen’s party was an outdoor one on an unusually warm April day. But then her hair never uncurled.

Coraline's hair at 13 months old, 6 1/2 months after her hair turned curly.

Coraline’s hair at 13 months old, 6 1/2 months after her hair turned curly.

We have yet to take her for a haircut. Not because we’re afraid she’d lose the curl — so many people say that happens with the first haircut — because her curl is genetic. She gets it from Rich, her grandfather, her aunt, other distant relatives. Her curl isn’t going anywhere. We’ve held off on the first haircut because we wanted to see how her hair grew. And now we know: It curls so much that when we wash it, Cora’s hair reaches almost to her waist. But the curl is so strong it immediately begins curling up again once water passes through it, same as when I comb it out.

My hair is naturally wavy, but nowhere near curly like my daughter’s. A good friend recommended a book, Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey, so I could learn how to manage Coraline’s hair. Because if there’s one thing I want for my little Curly Sue regarding her hair, it’s that she loves and embraces it — and knows how to manage it. The book defines different types of curls; I think Coraline’s hair type leans toward Corkicelli curls. It reminds you that curly hair is not supposed to be washed daily (we wash Cora’s twice a week, more during sweaty summers). It also tells about the best kind of hair-care products for curly hair (botanical based and sulfate free), which led me to the California Baby brand. We use their Shampoo & Bodywash, Calendula Hair Conditioner, and Calming Hair Detangler. Bonus: Since it’s formulated for babies/kids, it’s tear-free. Not that that matters to Coraline. When it comes to having her hair washed, she only very recently stopped screaming like she was being waterboarded.

Spring curls, April 2013

Spring curls, April 2013

One of my favorite things about Cora’s hair is how it holds its shape. And how it gets Gene Wilder crazy at the end of the day. She and I have a thing we do at bedtime: I take out her hair ties and barrettes and say, “Shake it out!” She shakes her head, knowing and enjoying how fluffy her hair gets. And while I’m not perfect when it comes to managing her hair, I try really, really hard to make sure she likes her hair, because I know so many women who don’t like their curly hair. A few have told me it goes back to their moms not knowing how to manage their hair. I’m trying hard not to be that mom, doing what I can to help Coraline and telling her all the time how beautiful her hair is (which, duh, it is). She’s really confident about her hair, and loves saying, “She has curly hair like me!” whenever we come across a girl or woman with similar hair. So, so far what I’m doing seems to be working. Fingers crossed that it continues to work.

Gene Wilder's tiny hair double.

Gene Wilder’s tiny hair double.

Now, when it comes to hairstyles that work with Coraline’s hair, well, that’s a work in progress. Another time, another post. Maybe.

See? Gorgeous curls, freshly washed.

See? Gorgeous curls, freshly washed.

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