#CurlUp: Filipinas before and after embracing their curly hair
#CurlUp: Filipinas before and after embracing their curly hair
Whether you heard it from the radio or from a group of kids chanting it out, this phrase couldn't get more tiring. Nobody seriously believes that curls are cursed, but the amount of times this "joke" has been directed against curly pinoys may as well be proof that curls aren't as accepted as straight hair are.
Conventional beauty standards in the Philippines paint a woman with fair skin, spotless face, small waist, and long, ruler-straight hair.
That's why, if you were born curly, you probably grew up being called “bruha” and being asked to brush your hair (even when brushing it literally causes more frizz.) You probably got tempted to just straighten your hair at the salon.
You are not alone. Here in the country, hair rebonding or hair relaxing is seen like a remedy, as though having curly hair is something that needs to be fixed.
In this list, we compiled some Filipinas who joined our #CurlUp challenge. These are the curlies who proudly rejected the beauty norms and became more confident. Read through their testimonials below, and check out how their curls looked before and after being embraced:
“Born in a family of curlies, never did it come to me to ever straighten my hair. My cousin and I pledged among ourselves to never have our hair rebonded. But being a shy kid I am, I didn't have the courage to wear my "big" hair on its own. I grew up with someone doing my crazy hairstyles everyday using the what we call 'sanrio.' Dry and damaged, I used to comb my hair as if I'm a straight-haired girl, trying to make it look less curly.
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In a voice workshop I enrolled years ago, we were taught to be confident, not only on how we perform, but also on how we showcase ourselves. I was required to put my hair down every training, every performance, every recital. Until then, I began to love my hair even more and realized how beautiful these curls are. Now, I am learning how to style and take care of my hair, and teaching my younger sisters as well.”
“This photo was taken 2 years ago when my hair was last rebonded. I used to get my hair rebonded and I had been doing it for 7 years. I used to think of my natural hair as something to be ashamed about because of how it was so messy and hard to manage. Having curly hair in a society where straight hair is being praised made me think that my natural hair isn't beautiful. Fast forward to now, I learned to love my natural hair, the hair my dad gave me. I've worked so hard to build my confidence in the past few months of transitioning to curly hair. I've come to realize that I don't have to change my appearance just to fit in, I need to accept my uniqueness and work with it."
“Back when I was young, I didn't know how to take care of my hair. I'm the only one in our family that has this kind of hair. My grandma was the one who takes care of it and I hated it ‘cause she used a lot of oil. I was thinking that my hair is a curse.
Until high school came, I was getting and getting annoyed by my hair. I always tie it or twist it cause it's too big, too dry, and too unruly. I have been thinking of getting my hair rebonded. I was encouraged by the people around me but I was scared, I wasn't sure if they can straighten my hair without damaging it more.
College came, as always, my hair was tied down or twisted out or in a bun. April 2014, before graduation I decided to have it rebonded. It was a success, they made my hair straight. I wore my hair straight for years but the curse kept on coming back and my hair was damaged even more. I realized whatever straightening they do to my hair, I can never hide my real hair. 2018, when I decided to wear boxbraids to bring back my curls. June 2019 when I decided to do the big chop. I did cut my own hair. I was so relieved when I saw the damaged straight hair being detached.
It was also June 2019 when I followed the Curly Girl Method (CGM) and bought all the products that might help me in bringing back my curls and have a healthier hair. It's over a year now since I started loving and accepting my real Afro-curly hair. It is so satisfying seeing my hair growing healthier than before. I promised to myself that I will never do any straightening methods and use straightening products that will cause harm to my hair and will accept and love it even more."
“I have always loved curly hair but the curly hair I had seen growing up were either tightly tied up in a ponytail or in a bun. You would think I know how to take care of my wavy hair because I came from a family that has curls, but I didn't. Not until recently. Back when I was in college, there were times I would blowdry my hair as I liked the look of ~neat~ waves and I avoided wearing my hair wet in school. The blowdried hair was nice but it made my ends dry after a while. So what made me switch to embracing my naturally wavy hair? The curly girl community. Seeing them rocking their healthy natural hair makes my heart warm. Through the curl community and the evolving hair care industry that now caters for our hair (finally!!), I have finally been able to curl up. It's been long overdue but better late than never, right? It's about time to see sulfate and silicone free products on the shelves of supermarkets, groceries, and in online stores.
I have always loved curly hair on other people but I had never thought I would be loving my own hair, too, even if it's not as curly as I would like it to be. I have a long way to go when it comes to my curls but I can only go forward from here with no more shame na di daw ako nagsusuklay. Well... yes true... kinda...?”
“I grew up thinking that only straight hair was beautiful hair. My coarse curly hair was dubbed as messy and downright hideous even by family members. I started having my hair rebonded when I was 12 year’s old, and every year until I turned 27.
In 2019, I started having doubts about having my hair rebonded because my hair felt so dry and damaged. A loving friend introduced me to the curly girl method (CGM) and Philippine CGM community.
I studied CGM because I knew I didn’t want to go back to chemical treatments. More importantly, I wanted to embrace how God created me. I held on to the truth of Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
It was difficult, because even my family wasn’t supportive and I suffered through several lectures at home. It took 6 months before I saw ANY result, but I received much encouragement as I persevered to keep on loving my natural God-given curls."
“My friends and I agree that my hair back then was like a colorful Baguio broom: similar in different hues and its incredible dryness.
Personally, it was the lack of awareness and education on how to properly take care of my hair as to why it experienced frizz, dryness, and being lifeless. A small part of me accepted defeat that this was the hair I’d have for life— but even with that I still loved what I got.
I recently started doing the Curly Girl Method (thanks to the CGM community) and it definitely made me love my hair even more. It also gave me hope that I could revive my full curls which I only saw in baby pictures. Even if the road to recovery is long, I know the outcome is worth it.”
"When I was young, I didn't hate my curls, but I'd treat straight hair like a gift. I once asked my mom if I could get my hair straightened at the salon for my birthday. I remember feeling my most beautiful then.
Eventually, I learned that straightening hair wasn't very sustainable. So, I decided it was time I started learning how to love my natural curls. At first, I thought they were just waves. Little did I know my hair was actually curlier! I learned so much about myself and about loving what I have after joining a curly hair community on Facebook. Now, I feel my most beautiful after a wash with Curls by Zenutrients. I'm so happy that more people have embraced kulots. Hopefully, there will be more and more!"
"Growing up, my hair was never my asset— it’s frizzy, poofy, and dry. I’m very insecure about it, so at a very young age I let the people at the salon relax / rebond my hair because I want it straightened. I enjoyed it while it lasts, pero time came na napagod na rin ako sa straight-dull hair. I decided to chop my rebonded hair and embrace my natural curls. I’m happy about it, but most of the time I bun my hair because just like what I said it’s frizzy, poofy, and dry. Then one day a friend recommended to try CGM or Curly Girl Method. I didn’t know what that was so I researched about it and I was really shocked. CGM is a method that curly people use to enhance their curls and keep it healthy. It’s actually really sad that not all people are knowledgeable about it, pero even if nalaman ko na what CGM is I can’t start because it requires buying tons of products that are not cheap especially for a student like me. I tried my best to earn money for myself because I don’t want to rely on my parents or anyone to buy my products for me.
Two months later, tadaaa! My hair is healthier and my curls are now defined compared before. I’m really happy with the results and I’m looking forward to learning and exploring more."
"Growing up, I've had my own share of 'kulot salot', 'mukha kang bruha', 'itali mo nga yang buhok mo, walis na lang ang kulang lilipad ka na'.
I grew up feeling insecure with my hair. I always had it in a tight bun or braids to avoid the teasing I get from my classmates. So, like many curlies, I had my hair straightened for years. Eventually, I grew tired of it. I decided to keep my curls but I was still using the wrong products. I've had dry, coarse hair so I tried different haircuts to 'tame' the curls. Unfortunately, none of these efforts worked well.
When I discovered the curly girl method in 2019, I thought it would be a nice self-love journey. I had so much insecurities that I know I have to let go. CGM taught me so much about myself. I've learned to be kind to myself - these beauty standards are all in my head. I've learned to be patient with myself - that my journey is different from others. Di baleng mabagal, basta umuusad. I've learned to be forgiving - not every washday is the same, and that's okay. I've learned to accept things I cannot change and love them through the process - such as my hair. I've learned to be brave - to try something new and never be afraid of change."
"Growing up as kulot was never easy, especially in a country where curlies equate to panget. A classic example is the movie The Princess Diaries.
The "Then" Mia was shy, weird and curly. After her transformation, she had this straight silky hair which surprisingly changed how other people looked at her. This part of the movie made me envious, not because I wasn't a Princess, but because of the fact that I can't have that straight silky hair without going to a salon. So I resorted to brushing my hair 100 times before I go to sleep (saw it in a commercial) and braids and buns until my adult life.
I didn't know how to take care of my crown. Majority of the time I would be insecure during Proms, Weddings or any occasion that would require a bonggang hairdo because there's nothing that I can really do with this type of hair apart from braiding until I was hooked in watching America's Next Top Model.
I found confidence in curly haired models so I tried their hair styles with the help of youtube videos! I gradually let my hair down in some occasions or when I take selfies. People around me started to compliment how curly my hair is. I also stand out in crowds because of how big my hair is, which I take as an advantage. 😂
Then a year ago, a friend introduced me to an FB group for Curly Girls in the Philippines. This is where I learned how to properly care for my hair with the use of the right products such as @curlnationbyzen".
From the narratives of these young curly Pinays, we see one thing in common; the same struggle of accepting their natural curls as they grew up. And these stories show that thanks to the Curly Girl Method, the curl communities, and their self-love discovery, they found the kind of confidence that they didn't know they are capable of.
If you're still on your way to transitioning, we hope these stories inspire you to keep going!