Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews

Pineappling. Plopping. Plunking.

The Internet has ruined my curly hair for me.

First, a note to black women everywhere rocking their natural hair: You are so smart. You had this shit nailed down decades ago. Why I didn’t just look to you for guidance in the first place will baffle me forever.

Until I was 13, I had no idea my hair was capable of curling on its own. Admittedly, this was in the late eighties, so how it was shaped was not nearly as important as how high it could go, but I digress. I’d actually gotten perms in middle school.

Bonus points if you can name the movie.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties. In 2001, Curly Girl: The Handbook came out, and changed EVERYTHING. Foolish me thought that shampooing, conditioning, and throwing down with some mousse was enough. Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

I learned that no-poo is the best poo.

I learned to fear sulfates and dimethicones (plus other similarly sinister things ending in -cone).

I learned that, for my hair to dry properly, I needed a satin sleep cap.


And then, the websites started appearing. Hundreds of curly-haired people were flocking to online forums, declaring their undying love for their hair, and sharing in exquisite detail their intricate styling routines. They rated and reviewed shampoos, conditioners, gels, oils, diffusers, combs, clips, and sprays. They assigned themselves codes by which to identify what kind of curl they had growing out of their heads.

Fact: There is a curly girl language. I shit you not.

Have I spent thousands of dollars on products suggested to me by curly hair experts? Yes. I’ve thrown down obscene amounts of money for haircuts specifically suited for curly hair, too. I drank all the kool-aid.

And then I went and had a kid and half my hair fell out.


I chose to not think about my hair for several years then. I wore a lot of bandanas, scarves, and hats. Styling was for people with time — people who cared about what they looked like when they went out of the house. I was not that person.

Slowly but surely, I’ve returned to the land of the people who care about their personal appearance. Well, kind of. With this rebirth, I climbed back into the internet for guidance as to how to manage my still curly, but significantly thinner hair.

The curly girl online forums are still exploding, and there are still people making an insane amount of money from desperate women who want their curly hair to look like that of a Disney character.

Seriously, I would kill for this fictional character’s hair.

There are methods to dry hair, style hair, de-frizz hair, rebuild hair…it goes on forever. And after having read up on all of them, I have neither the time, money, or the patience to undertake the vast majority of these methods.

I take vitamins, I use a shitload of conditioner, and I hope for the best. And then I contemplate cutting bangs, or growing my hair long, or cutting it all off, or braiding it.

Because life is complicated.

World Mental Health Day

Pssst…people on the left…