When I was in preschool, one of my classmates told me I had big hair. I went home and cried. At that moment, my curly blonde hair became the cause behind my identity crisis.
I’ve always been the odd man out when it comes to looks. My father, mother and brother all have brown hair and brown eyes. Although my mom’s hair is slightly wavy, my ulta-curly blonde locks and green eyes don’t fit in with the rest of the Marshall clan’s look. Instead, I get my sunny hair and light coloring from my Swedish relatives on my maternal grandmother’s side.
Being different than my family didn’t make me fall in love with my hair. In fact, one of my most vivid memories is disliking my curly hair — probably due to that preschool incident. I took my toddler classmate’s words to heart and from that moment on, I classified my hair as “big.”
It only worsened as the years went on. My big hair became the biggest reason behind my lack of self-esteem. I didn’t feel confident because I didn’t know what to do with my unruly hair. I tried everything to keep it from getting too frizzy and huge. I brushed it. I washed it less frequently. Throughout high school, I used hot rollers on it every day in an attempt to minimize its size. (Though goodness knows why I thought curling my already curly hair was a good idea.)
But nothing worked. For the entirety of my high school career, my hair never got better. It remained exceptionally large throughout my first two years of college.
But after my sophomore year at the University of Iowa, everything changed. With encouragement from my now-fiancé, I embarked on my hair journey. I set out to find a better method for styling my curly hair. Since I was living at home, I talked to numerous salons in my hometown to find the best shampoo and conditioner for locks like mine.
Although all the salons I talked to had great suggestions, none of them presented me with a foolproof method that I was searching for. I had all but given up when I suddenly stumbled upon Curly Girl: The Handbook at the local library. The author, Lorraine Massey, has curly hair herself and created the DevaCurl method to educate curly women (and men) on proper hair care.
Although I was hesitant at first, I decided to try out Massey’s method. After all, her book is beyond thorough — it has plenty of pictures, advice on identifying what type of curly hair you have and a how-to guide for cleansing, conditioning and drying curly hair. It even comes with a DVD, which includes step-by-step instructions on a daily hair routine.
As it turns out, Curly Girl was my saving grace. I took its suggestions to heart and bought a sulfate- and silicon-free cleanser and conditioner. I stopped shampooing with harsh chemicals and put away the hot rollers forever. Acting on Massey’s advice, I stopped seeing my curls as something to be ashamed of and started viewing them as an asset.
All of a sudden, I started seeing results. My hair looked less dry, frizzy and big and more — well, curly. Other people took notice, too. “Your hair looks great,” some told me. “Your hair looks curlier than ever,” others said. On top of that, my self-esteem instantly improved. Instead of battling my hair every morning, I was confident in my curls, and all those years of bottled up hair hatred melted away. I felt beautiful.
My brother, father and me in January 2015.
I’ve been using Lorraine Massey’s DevaCurl method for nearly three years now, and it is the best self care/style decision I’ve ever made. With healthier hair, I feel like a healthier human being. If you’re a curly girl or guy, I seriously recommend checking out the DevaCurl website and trying out the method. It’s a decision you won’t regret.