The thing about having curly hair is that you never know if you love it or hate it.
Most days you settle for bottles of hair oil as your best friend. You are fighting constant battles with the humidity, you break a hairbrush or two, and continuously get berated by aunties who want you to tie your hair up. The neglect that curly hair receives is almost comic to the point where instead of wallowing in disappointment, many just roll with it. I was not keen to join either club so I decided to get to the root of it.
Similar to the skin-whitening regime, the straightening of naturally curly/wavy hair is another attempt to homogenise the way people look, tailoring to socially constructed beauty standards. Most people hold bias towards young women and men based on their hair—the curly kind painting a sloppy first impression whereas traditionally straight hair would make one seem more "put together". If I got 100 taka for every time I have had a hairdresser examine my hair and utter "rebond kore felen", I'd actually have enough money to do it.
Furthermore, the sense of insecurity sparked by such pressure often pushes people into taking rash measures, most commonly keratin treatment and rebonding—methods that actually damage hair in the long run—without having the sufficient knowledge of what may be best for their curls. Also, the lack of availability of products designed for curly hair add to the already negligent attitude towards individuals of the respective hair type, creating the misconception that maintaining their natural hair is an extremely demanding ordeal.
The cultural stigma we have with non-straight hair might seem trivial, but this affects the way young people view themselves, especially in a time where there is immense pressure to look good. Learning to love curly hair comes with learning to take care of them so promoting hair diversity in its natural style, colour and shape is a topic definitely worth discussing.
Izma Anwar has a talent for spraining her ankles. Send prayers at firstname.lastname@example.org