Our hair says a lot about us. It’s part of our identity—something that has been with us through thick and thin, quite literally, and is a direct reflection of who we are at each stage in our lives. Hair is a unique form of self expression; thus, it should always be celebrated. Every woman has a story about her hair, and to my good fortune, my lovely friend and co-worker Anna Dominguez, Who What Wear’s associate fashion editor, was down to chat with me about all things hair. Below, Dominguez shares her personal hair journey (and not to mention some extremely cute childhood photos) in hopes of inspiring others to embrace their natural texture.
When Dominguez was a little girl, all she wanted was to snap her fingers and suddenly have different hair, especially when she was around her crush or girls she thought were cooler than her. “I always envied my friend in high school who had long, perfectly straight hair because everyone always gave her the attention," Dominguez tells me. "I know it’s silly to say now, but growing up, there weren’t a lot of boys who had crushes on me because—I felt—I looked different.” This feeling of being out of place was present for Dominguez from a young age, which ultimately led her to experiment with a number of hair treatments, tools (like straightening her hair every single day for years), and hair dyes (including bleach!) in order to feel as if she fit in better with her white peers. Not surprisingly, her strands were left dry, brittle, and downright damaged. It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago, when Dominguez was 22 that she really felt ready to embrace her hair in its most natural form. "I was sick of always needing to cut off more length than I wanted, and deep down I just knew that I needed to preserve the health of my hair," Dominguez tells me.
The best part about accepting her curls is her newfound hair health. “I cry happy tears every time my hairdresser comments on how healthy my hair is getting,” says Dominguez. But she can’t take all the credit—in fact, she says that it's the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer she'd mostly thank. Yes, a hair dryer of all things. “Not only does it take like five minutes to style my towel-dried hair using the diffuser, but it also helps define my natural curl pattern, and the heat control protects against extreme heat damage.” And for someone who has put her hair through a lot over the years, nothing is more comforting than knowing she won't be anymore.
Hair has been a part of Dominguez's identity for as long as she can remember. Before school, her mom would use No More Tangles on her mane just so she was able to tame it. Dominguez hated how long it took to get ready in the mornings, how unpredictable and frizzy her curls were, and how different she looked from everyone else. "I never saw a celebrity who looked like me and wore their hair curly," explains Dominguez. "If a Black woman wore her hair curly, it was considered unkempt or unprofessional." It's one of the many reasons Dominguez found it hard to manage her own curls. "Society has instilled this idea that straight hair is the better look, and it's something I struggled with until fairly recently."
So, Dominguez did what so many kids do: try to change who she was. The first time she was introduced to a hair straightener, she was at the mall with her mom and a salesperson at a kiosk lured them over. 40 minutes later, Dominguez felt like a brand new person with stick-straight locks. "I couldn't stop running my fingers through my hair and thinking that this is what my friends get to feel regularly. I would always get compliments about how beautiful my hair looked when it was straight, so it was hard for me not to think that my curls were less desirable."
Looking back now, Dominguez tells me she's bummed that she ever felt she was inferior because of something like her appearance. "I wish I could tell my younger self that my curls, skin, and features are what make me so unique."
Even as she got older and people started to compliment her curls, Dominguez never believed them because of her own insecurities. It wasn't until she started dating her boyfriend that her mentality changed. "Early into our relationship, I remember freaking out because we had an event to go to and I was worried I wouldn't have enough time to straighten my hair beforehand. I was in the middle of some crazy rant, and he interrupted me to tell me how beautiful he thought my curls were," says Dominguez. "He was actually the first person to say he preferred them to my straight hair." It was the confidence boost she needed to help flip the narrative, let go of the beliefs that were holding her down, and get to where she is today.
And today looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago. Dominguez's hair is a top priority now. She rarely straightens it, takes biotin supplements every day, and invests in products like the Dyson Supersonic that prevents extreme heat damage, protects natural shine, and helps define her curls. "I never used to diffuse my hair because it was hard to maintain my curl shape, and it'd just take too long and end up looking like a frizzy mess," Dominguez says. But now with a healthier head of hair and a new perception of beauty, Dominguez feels that anything is possible. "I realize now that the weight of my appearance doesn't even come close to what I have to offer with my intelligence, personality, and compassion," she says. "If only I was able to come to this realization earlier in life." But hey, better late than never, right?
Shop the Dyson Supersonic: