Most people seem to agree that my hair falls somewhere between Charles I and Bryan May.

It’s a mass of corkscrew curls and frizz (by which I mean 98% frizz).

This teacher is dying his hair all sorts of colours to help a student get a service dog

And like my two older, male doppelgangers, it’s my crowning glory. My defining feature.

I love my hair and I hate my hair.

I love people touching it and commenting on it (although it’s usually drunk people who do that). It keeps my head and ears warm in all weathers. It provides me with hours of fiddling.

But it’s also difficult to style and it’s dry like bone. Honestly, I must spend half my life cutting off split ends.

How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair
(Picture: Miranda Larbi)

It sucks up any moisture you put on it and because I’m not prepared to start channelling the 90s wet look anytime soon by smothering it in coconut oil or shea butter like my dad suggests, I’m stuck with it.

My hair more than being just a style, it’s an important cultural signifier.

It’s the only real give away that I’m not completely white – the main thing that connects me to my dad’s heritage.

We’ve gone shopping for Afro products together in hair shops, swapping and trying out various moisture sprays, butters and masks.

You go one of two ways when you’re a racial hybrid: you either accept your natural hair or you do your damnedest to make it conform to a certain style.

While I’ve got a lot of curly but thin hair, my sister’s is thicker, straighter, darker. It’s more like Asian hair.

How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair
My sister and I (Picture: Miranda Larbi)

After hearing an off-the-cuff comment about her hair resembling a sheep dog’s, she chose for many years to straighten and highlight it until many of the waves disappeared.

These days, it’s got a little of its movement back but I imagine that it’ll always be more on the straight side.

You’ve got to be careful with what you say to young girls, particularly when they’re in a minority.

Being mixed race is a difficult identity to own and it’s a difficult hair type to navigate.

How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair
Mini pineapple (Picture: Miranda Larbi)

My mum used to wash my hair twice a week, blow drying and brushing it into within an inch of its life so that I ended up a walking triangle of frizz.

‘You can’t go into school without brushing that mane!’ she’d moan before scragging me half to death.

And that was OK at my tiny prep school. My dad used to tie the top into a ‘palm tree’ and away I went.

But, needless to say, when I got to high school, my triangular hairdo didn’t go down too well.

I was the East End Sideshow Bob.

How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair
Princess Diaries – the archetypal ’00s film that made curly haired teens feel like their natural hair was ugly

I felt like a freak. People used to ping it. Prod it. Laugh at it.

So when I got to about 15, I started having it straightened. My mate Charis used to spend hours ironing it out in – much to the detriment of her wrists and my arse.

And suddenly, everyone told me how much better I looked.

Guys started to notice me more. Girls started to compliment me more.

As an incredibly lazy person, however, there was no way that I was going to brush – let alone straighten – my hair every day. And thank God, because I’d have ruined my luscious locks forever if I had.

How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair
Looking ‘better’ (Picture: Miranda Larbi)

The turning point for me came when my dad started to diss my newly ironed hair.

‘I don’t get why you keep doing that to your hair – it looks bloody awful!’ he said the day of my then boyfriend’s prom, just after I’d had my hair salon-straightened (which incidentally ended in getting a severe scalp burn which meant me being unable to brush my hair for two weeks).

How rude, I thought. What would he know? If it was up to him, I’d go around looking like an inflated poodle forever.

But he had a point.

My hair was designed the way it was to compliment the way I naturally look. When it’s very straight, my face looks huge. When it’s normal, I look in proportion.

I started to feel guilty for feeling ugly about a feature that he’d given me.

By the time I reached the sixth form, I decided to embrace my hair – and my ethnicity – fully.

How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair

I began to brush it out until it was huge.

I learnt more about serums and oils.

I found my ‘look’.

I wore it short, big, in buns, in ponytails, in braids, in curls. For a long time, I had an Amy Winehouse thing going on (no need for any backcombing, obviously).

The second I accepted it for what it was, everyone else suddenly seemed to like it.

In fact, people started saying that they actually wished they had hair like me. I was no longer a frizzy freak but someone with an enviable feature.

How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair
It’s basically just a cloud (Picture: Miranda Larbi)

Sure, the guy I dated in during my first year at university used to ask me to iron my hair when we went out.

The boss at my first Saturday job asked me to either tie it up or straighten it.

But the thing about fashion is that it’s fickle. Curly hair, mixed beauty, frizz suddenly became vogue. And it still is.

I’ve never dated someone since who hasn’t said that they loved my hair. Why would I?

And can you imagine asking an employee to change their natural hair these days?

They’d be shamed in a viral open Facebook letter before you can say ‘racial discrimination lawsuit’.

In one hilarious incident, which incidentally made me love my hair even more, I was given a thank you gift from a beauty PR company I’d spent the summer interning for during my second year of university.

Opening the bag, I found a shampoo and conditioner marked for coloured hair.

Odd, I thought, given that my hair has never been dyed.

‘No, sorry, we’ve given it to you because it’s for coloured hair,’ they explained.How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair

My mate – who was a bottle blonde – gladly accepted the bag instead.

It was an idiotic mistake – particularly for a BEAUTY PR COMPANY – to make. But nevertheless, it made me even more aware of how strongly race and hair are bound together. And how many dumb people there are in quite well-paid jobs.

The next year, I made sure that when I graduated from my BA, I did so with my natural hair as a small fist pump to the thing that made me, me.

That idea of looking better, neater, more attractive with white hair still plagues me but I try to embrace my natural hair as often as possible. If you asked most people to draw me or describe me, they’d start with my curly barnet.

How I eventually came to embrace my curly, awesome hair
The curly graduate/handmaiden (Picture: Miranda Larbi)

I still get my hair blown out or straightened semi-regularly, but I try to remember that doing so doesn’t improve my looks – it’s just something different. After all, variety is the spice of life.

My hair is so versatile, I’m lucky that I have so many options.

And although it takes half a bottle of shampoo to be washed properly, although some strands refuse to curl, although it’s not a mass of perfect ringlets, it is awesome.

This article is part of Hair Care, our month-long investigation and exploration into our relationships with hair and the cultural implications that come with it.

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