Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Curl Compliments

Comment: "You have beautiful curls ...  really beautiful."
Response: "I hate my hair."

You may not agree that you have beautiful curly hair when someone pays this kind of straight-forward curl compliment. And because the Universe is ineffable and fundamentally entertaining, the majority of curly compliments are collected on "bad hair days", making it even harder to accept that person's kind words.  What makes "I hate my hair" a troublesome response, even if it is genuine, is that it's ungrateful. A compliment is a present that a person bestows upon you. A compliment is an act of generosity. An unqualified "thank you" for that gift shows gratitude and allows you or me an opportunity to accept something positive into what is often a hectic, stressful day. 

Comment: "Wow, you have great hair!"
Response: "No I don't. It sucks. You have great hair!"

This can be really awkward for the complimenter. Suddenly a simple compliment has become the foundation for a negative comparison.

Yes, you may genuinely think the person somehow has "better" hair. But if that's true, there's no reason not to graciously accept their compliment and then praise that person's hair in return, without insulting your own hair.

As we curlies learn to embrace our hair, the "My hair sucks, yours is great" line represents a type of trap that people in American culture, especially women, tend to fall into. Many of us have been  taught that being apologetic or self-deprecating is noble, or that it somehow morally elevates us; that wholeheartedly embracing compliments make us look overly-confident, stuck up or too proud. Well, it's worth the risk, in my opinion. It's healthy to be positive about oneself.

Comment: "Your hair is amazing. People pay a fortune trying to get your curls."
Response: "That's crazy. My hair is a nightmare."

Our negative responses to compliments don't just affect us individually. Unfortunately, when so many of us downplay our curly hair, it re-inforces the societal message that we all hate our curls. And we all know what that results in: An onslaught of trollish remarks from people who assume we all hate our curly hair, plus those crazed anti-curly straightening wand sales people chasing us down in malls across the country  ;)

... Have a wonderful curly day :)