“Comfortable with my curls”

Monica with her three girls

Monica with her three girls

Monica has blue eyes and full curly hair which she has had all her life. Not so unusual to me, but for Monica who has grown up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, it is. Unusual and a big deal. Because most women in Puerto Rico choose to straighten their hair and spend much of their day (a good portion of their beauty regime) making sure they remove their natural curl. But Monica is different and not afraid to be original. She is also the mother of three young girls, ages 10, 9, and 6, and Monica is teaching them to embrace their luxurious curly hair and their differences too. She is fashion-forward and courageous.

Here is Monica

There are many factors why the women of Puerto Rico follow certain beauty rituals. One is that it’s warm here all year-round. Body hair has to be impeccable: that means shaved legs and underarms and bikini waxes. Everyone wears sandals all-year so getting pedicures is a regular ritual as well. I don’t bother with manicures but I keep my nails short and clean – and I almost always have a pedicure …

Another factor is that in Puerto Rico fashion is a status symbol. It tells others that you can afford certain things. People follow fashion but they are not individuals.They are followers. They will spend a lot of money on a certain name brands. Handbags are very big right now and even teenagers have designer handbags. I mean Luis Viutton handbags – very high end. This was not the way it was when I was a teenager – it has changed …

Women spend a significant portion of time and money straightening their hair; processing it, ironing it, and doing anything to get rid of the curl. It is very humid here and the humidity affects everyone’s hair. I like to be low maintenance; I hate spending time taking care of myself and I don’t understand women who spend so much time on their hair. I would rather be doing other things …

I have a high self-esteem. My mom never made my hair an issue. I was born with blue eyes and blond curly hair – I was always different. But it was never an issue. My grandmother would tell me to braid my hair and try ways to remove the curl but I never did (and they never worked anyway). I think once or twice I straightened my hair but that was it. I have seen mothers with young girls age 10, taking them to straighten their hair just before attending a birthday party …

My mom accepted my hair but she didn’t help me to care for it. She didn’t know any better thirty years ago. Today it is much different: there are so many great products to maintain healthy, curly hair. I have three daughters with curly hair and I want them to be comfortable with it and to accept what nature has given them. I also give them the tools to take care of their hair with frequent haircuts and the right products. They always look so lovely –  simple and natural.

I can’t imagine fighting my hair every day! Looking good and taking care of yourself is a good thing. But when it’s too high a priority it can be counter-productive, especially if it interferes with your self image and self esteem.”


Monica's three girls - ages 10, 9 and 6

Monica’s three girls – ages 10, 9 and 6


Your thoughts?

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4 thoughts on ““Comfortable with my curls”

  1. How lucky are Monica’s girls to have such a wise mom! I must admit to falling for the “trend craze” in order to “fit in with the rest.” Time to embrace the beauty the comes from being oneself!

    • I agree Ana. I think we all have fallen for the ‘trend craze’ at one time in our lives in order to fit in. I lost my fashion way a little during my first semester at college. I came home at break, begging my mother for a certain kind of sweater; she was kind enough to buy a few for me and I returned to school and wore them briefly. But only briefly and that was that. All in the name of fitting in. At some point, I learned to trust my own instincts again and go with what felt right for me. Thank you for the thoughtful comment. xx Mel

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