I Don’t Always Love My Kinky, Coily Hair, but I’m Trying

My cotton crown blooms coiled antennas, each having the individuality of snowflakes

Sylene "SylJoe" Joseph
Published in
5 min readDec 8, 2019


A photo of the author’s natural hair.
An up-close look at my tightly coiled natural hair. Photos: Sylene Joseph

TThese past few years have been empowering for dark-skinned women, especially for those of us with hair that’s as difficult to love as it is to comb. Today, our melanin is celebrated, the naps on our scalp that we were once pressured to relax are now a crowning glory. Black girls have been deemed magical, and we are finally being embraced in mainstream media as beautiful in both appearance and character.

But there are still days when reality sets in, at least for me.

There are days when I overhear conversations between Black men admitting their preference has been and always will be someone with light skin. There are days when there are not enough makeup shades available that can hide my hyperpigmentation. There are days when I’m tired of wearing my hair in a bun atop my head and want to let it all down, but I can’t. My hair doesn’t do that.

I want my hair to be easier! Easier to style, easier to maintain, easier to touch, easier to manipulate, easier to love.

Once upon a time, when I was seven or eight, I prayed for waist length, bone-straight blonde hair. I didn’t pray for world peace or good grades. No. I wanted the sun to shine on my natural highlights while I tossed my hair from side to side. After-school television programs didn’t have girls with hair like mine. Instead, there were one or two racially ambiguous girls with loose curls that hung past their shoulders or the occasional unambiguous Black girl with her tresses hidden away in braids.

It has taken me many years to accept that nothing is wrong with my hair. Many other Black women and girls have been on a similar journey, unlearning what we’ve come to know as the standard of beauty and embracing the skin (and hair) we’re in. We’re learning that our kinks, curls, and coils are different but also beautiful.

Unfortunately, my childhood obsession of having shiny hair with movement and length has had long-lasting effects on how I view and treat my own natural hair. Yes, we have entered a time when Black…