15 Things You Should Never Ever Say To A Person With Curly Hair


Ask yourself: Would you say this shit to Lorde?

Most of the time, I love my naturally curly hair. I decided many years ago to just let it be, to stop fighting it, to “embrace the curl,” as they say. But that doesn’t mean my hair isn’t a source of fascination for quite a few other people. I get a lot of truly nice compliments on my curls, but I often get infuriatingly rude comments, as well. And so does basically every other person who has ever walked the earth with hair that doesn’t hang straight as a ruler.

I asked some of my twisty-tressed (LOL) friends what their curly hair comment pet peeves are and wow, did I get a lot of answers that are basically insults masked as compliments.

1. “Can I touch it?”

It’s certainly better to ask rather than not to ask, as I’ve had total strangers walk up to me and cup my curls. Not ok, by the way. But curly or natural hair is—GASP!—hair. It might feel different than the hair you’re used to touching but those of us who have it are not magical exotic unicorns from the Kingdom Of Curly. And please, be gentle. NO TUGGING.

2. “Have you ever straightened it?”

No, not once in my entire existence have I ever used the many beauty tools available to me to make my hair straight. NEVER. NOT EVER.

3. “How long does it take you to straighten it?”

Well, considering I have to use a mixture of blood from a baby deer, semen from an octopus, and Tinkerbell’s tears to get it to lay flat, it takes me approximately a millennium. Most of that time is spent gathering the ingredients, but applying the magical straightening potion using a $5000 ceramic iron takes a big chunk of time, too. I marathon Friday Night Lights while I do it because I find Tim Riggins’ hair motivating.

4. “You look so much better with your hair straight!”

Gee, thank you. I will certainly keep your opinion of my appearance and my hair’s texture in mind for all future public appearances.

5. “Is it a perm?”

Is your straight hair a Brazilian treatment? Do you use a Chi flatiron? Is it the 1980s? How much did your house cost? Can I see your driving record?

6. “It’s so big!”

Yup! Big enough to hide a dead body in!

7. “What do you do to make it like that?”

I get out of bed.

8. “Can you even brush it?”

Well, it’s hair, so yes, I COULD brush it. But if you must know, I choose not to brush it. I plop it!

9. “Wow, it’s so humid today. Your hair must be going crazy!”

You’re right! I am a regular old Medusa in the summer months. Hisssssssss.

10. “Do you have any frizz-fighting tips? It must be an endless battle for you.”

My life is a war fought on the battlefield of my head.

11. “Why do you use so much conditioner?”

Why are you hanging out in my shower, looking at my conditioner levels? Why are you checking my CVS receipts? Why do you use so much lubricant for anal sex?

12. “Does your boyfriend mind that you have curly hair?” 

Oh, shit. He just actually looked at me for the very first time and noticed! (Yes, this is actually a real thing that has been said to a real curly-haired woman. THIS IS THE WORLD WE LIVE IN.)

13. “I wish I had curly hair! It’s so distinctive, beautiful, unusual, exotic, etc!”

I don’t actually mind this one too much, but I know other curlies do. I usually just say thank you and move on.

14. “Only you could make curly hair look good.”

Um. Thanks? That’s the weirdest backhanded compliment ever and you’re a kind of mean person.

15. “That beautiful curly hair is totally wasted on a boy!”

Now of course this hasn’t been said to me, but I hear from dudes that it’s a common occurrence. Because only women have the right to good hair!

Ok, fellow wavy, curly and natural-haired people! Share your own annoyances in the comments. Or feel free to tell me I am a terrible crochety bitch and I should be glad that people are interested in my hair. Either way!

Photo: WireImage

Share This Post:
    • Kaitlin Reilly

      #14 and #4, those are terrible people. I love how people assume that they have a right to say things about how you look best. Unless someone is specifically asking, why offer this up? Why not just compliment someone’s current appearance or say nothing at all?

    • lucas

      Oh man, number 7!
      for real

    • Lindsey Conklin

      Alright, I’m about to be annoying, but I don’t care, I WISH I HAD CURLY HAIR! also, I would imagine “can I touch it?” would be so annoying.

      • JennyWren

        Yeah, I think there’s a “grass is always greener” thing going on with hair. My hair is naturally ruler-straight, but it’s also fine, which makes it extremely damage-prone. Since I have a very oily scalp as well it means I have to wash my hair every day, and past collar-bone length it just flops there looking limp and manky. I know logically that people with curly hair have maintenance issues that are just as annoying, but I spent a good part of my youth and young adulthood on a vain quest to inject some kind of volume into my hair, so I’d love to have the opposite problem for a change!

      • anna

        Just about to write in, grass is always greener! Granted, I had only wavy hair growing up, but my mom kept it waist length so it was a PAIN. I had a friend with thin, stick straight hair, and I never understood why she was constantly trying to imitate my hair. Didn’t she know how easy hers was??

    • Rebecca R

      I don’t get NEARLY as upset when people ask to touch my hair as when I’m minding my own business and feel a hand in my hair. It is seriously creepy.

    • Joanna Rafael

      I love this. My really jerkish high school boyfriend actually DID mind that I had curly hair and urged me to stretch it out all the time.

      • DreaTheGreat

        I hope you kicked him in the nuts at some point and when he asked why you said you minded his having balls and were urging him to cut them off.

      • Jeff

        How the fuck is that even in the same realm? Typical woman.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        I’LL END HIM

    • Muggle

      Ugh #7. I spend far less effort on my hair now than I did in high school, but nobody gae a fuck about my perfectly straight locks then, while I can go 2 days with dirty hair, and do little but comb it with my fingers and everyone wants to know my “secret.” It’s called genetics. Thank my mother for my curls.

      #15 also pisses me off. Curly-haired boys are adorable!

    • Lenora Pentecost-Bratton

      People have told my husband that his hair is wasted on him. No it’s not! I get to touch it <3

    • Tazcat

      #1 – that’s the WORST. Ferchrissakes… I am NOT a poodle! It’s bad enough from people I’ve known for a while (looking at you, Mr. Awkward Coworker) but it is the worst when complete and total strangers do it (yes that means YOU, random waitress in restaurant I have never been to before).

    • Virdrago

      Good article. My hair is just wavy, and I almost never just wear it that way to work. I usually pull it all up in a pony tail or bun, which I am trying to stop doing right now, because it has caused me a lot of breakage, and I am trying to go more natural with it by wearing it down, and not straightening it, but I have now had people say to me some things similar to the above, but also things like I look like I just woke up, or I look like I just had sex, because my hair is all crazy. What do you say back to them? LOL

    • Guest

      I get ‘Do you curl your hair?’ a lot, as if I can’t naturally have wavy or curly hair -_-

    • Destinie

      I get most of these fairly often. I usually don’t mind them except for #12. It makes me angry because it implies that you can’t be attractive if you don’t conform to modern beauty standards or that curly hair can’t be sexy. I guess men that lived from 1920′s – 1980′s just had to deal. It’s amazing anyone was born!

    • Catherine Birch

      Iv`e had curly hair all my life, & I loathe it! When I was a kid, people would come up to me when I was out with my mother & say “what pretty hair! is it natural”. I got taesed non-stop by other kids about my hair. All these reactions made me feel like a freak of nature. As a teenager i had some really spiteful remarks said to me, like, your hair spoils your looks!, People would touch it without asking. Now that I`m past 60, & most women my age have perms, I don`t stand out from the crowd so much, but if I was given the option of permanently changing my hair from curly to naturally straight, I`d do it in a heartbeat!

      • Firebrat

        I totally hear you with this. I got teased almost exclusively about my hair, and kids called me names like thistle down, haystack, mo-fro and froda (because, apparently, as it was explained to me, I was a short weird little alien with a giant mane of curls). I literally had zero friends growing up because the popular girls succeeded in not only labeling me a social pariah, but also in discouraging other people from becoming my friend with the threat of guilt by association. I was a social death sentence. I got super depressed, and the moment my mother allowed me to get straight perms, I did. For years. It completely ruined my hair, and it looked like dry straw (ironically, the nickname “haystack” never applied to me more than when my hair was straight, not curly) but I didn’t care! At least it was STRAIGHT straw! It began breaking off and eventually looked so unhealthy, I decided, why keep this up? I am literally HARMING a part of myself for people who have treated me like dirt and whom I honestly f***ing HATE. So I stopped doing it, did some research and trial and error experiments into caring for my curls the right way, and grew out the straight perm. Now, I’m a singer/songwriter in the local music scene where I live, and my giant mane of red curls is my biggest trademark! I’ve seen a few of my old bullies, one of them as a member of the audience at one of my shows. She had no idea who I was (I use a stage name) and after the show I reintroduced myself. Her jaw fell open and her face went bright red. She apologized for the years of torment, and I told her she had nothing to apologize for. Three of the songs I played that night had been about the pain of growing up bullied. I thanked her for the inspiration, and walked away, knowing the only part of me she could see was that huge red cloud of curls. I’m not going to tell you to “embrace your curls!!,!!11″ like so many of us have heard so often. But I did, and it worked out. Yay! :-)

      • Catherine Birch

        I really don`t understand the the fear & fascination with naturally curly hair, after all, our earliest ancestors came from africa, & they all had tight curly hair.

    • Catherine Birch

      Iv`e just had a brilliant idea, next time someone touches, or asks to touch our hair, say ” I charge a fee for that!”