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One of the most memorable days of my life as a mom so far has nothing to do with giving birth or first steps or first words. It happened about nine months into my daughter’s life when one morning I walked into her room, and I noticed the back of her hair had a little curl to it. I took a mental note but figured she probably just slept on it weirdly. That night after I gave her a bath and brushed her hair, there it was again. The straight, wet hair slowly turned into a curl. That single curl turned into lots of curls, and my daughter’s curly hair has somehow come to represent everything I love about her, and myself, and being a girl.

Growing up, I hated my hair. It was thick and wavy and looked nothing like the pin-straight hair all my friends (and all the girls on TV) had. In elementary school, I would ask my mom to blow dry my hair straight before bed. And then in sixth grade, I got my own light blue Conair straightener from CVS. It was clunky, it definitely overheated, and every morning there was a faint smell of burnt hair in our house.

And slowly but surely, I straightened my curls out of existence. In high school, I doused my hair in extra-strength hairspray. In college, I got a fancy new flat-iron. In my early 20s, I started wearing my hair in a bun because the overnight news shifts didn’t pair well with my 45-minute hair regimen. Then I had two kids, two pregnancies worth of hormones, and two part-partum hair loss journeys.

RELATED: Please Don’t Judge Me by My Haircut

My hair is still very thick, and I still don’t let it air dry. But I’ve lost almost all of my waves and curls. And as with most things in life, I didn’t appreciate what I had until I lost it. And so seeing that little curl in the back of my daughter’s hair was the first time I realized I had the power (and responsibility) to teach her to love herself just as she comes. Her curls are so perfect and pure and make her who she is. And because of that, I want her to hold onto them for as long as possible.

My daughter, like all girls, will get so many contradictory messages thrown at her in the world: Be yourself! But also look like all these girls on Instagram. Run your own race! But also understand how the race works because the odds are stacked against you. Climb the ladder! But also be a present mother who never misses a milestone.

I want to make sure my message to her is very clear: Just. Be. Yourself. It’s the most simple, and yet also the most radical, thing you can do as a girl. And it’s a lesson I only learned after years of trying to get my hair to look like anything other than what it was born to look like.

RELATED: This is the Definition of Beauty I will Teach my Daughters

I know my daughter will have her own version of the Conair straightener one day. And I know it’s perfectly normal to want the hair you don’t have. But if I can do just one thing as a mom to make sure she knows that so much of being beautiful is really just about being confident in your own skin, her hair and those curls will be the hill I die on. And one day, probably as she sits in front of me asking me to blow-dry her hair, I’ll read her this letter I wrote to those perfect little curls on her head.

Dear Curls,

Please never grow up. In a sea of sameness, you are special and different. Stand strong, no matter how much hairspray or heat is standing in your way. Embrace the frizz in the humidity. Welcome the flyaways in the wind. The world is ready to tell my daughter who she should be and what she should look like–and you are on the front lines. Years from now, when the baby curls turn into waves, she’ll look back and miss those ringlets. And then maybe one day, she’ll be lucky enough to experience their beauty again through her own little girl.


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Eugenia Cassidy

Eugenia Cassidy is an editorial consultant living in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two young children. She started her career at NY1 News and CBS This Morning, and then joined theSkimm as one of the company's first employees. You can follow or connect with her on instagram @eugenia.cassidy.

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