Junior recounts fear of curly hair from nightmare

February 1, 2017 — by Elicia Ye
With more than half of the world’s population having curly hair, a fear of curly-haired people seems to be one of the last items on someone’s list of phobias. Especially when the person has curly hair himself.

With more than half of the world’s population having curly hair, a fear of curly-haired people seems to be one of the last items on someone’s list of phobias.
Especially when the person has curly hair himself.
Ever since he had a nightmare in kindergarten, junior Vishal Narayan had always “freaked out” whenever he encountered curly-haired people.
“It was a Christmas-themed dream, and a curly-haired woman was throwing candy corn and was trying to kill me,” Narayan said. “She had green skin and reminded me of the Grinch, except she wore a white frock-like dress with pink petals on top.”
The haunting dream was enough to convince Narayan that the “monster-like” woman with “really oily, short, curly hair” was making an attempt on his life.
At age 6, Narayan moved to India, where he wasn’t exposed to a variety of hairstyles since guys couldn’t have long hair and girls aren’t allowed to let their hair down.
“As soon as I got to India my parents [shaved my head] bald for religious reasons, so I didn’t have to deal with being scared of my own hair,” Narayan said.
His fear of curly hair only intensified in third grade when he had Shanti ma’am as his teacher, who, in his memory, had red spots on her light-skinned face and thin curly hair that didn’t reach her shoulders.
“She used to hit people; I remember she smacked me at least three times,” Narayan said. “That just increased my overall fear of curly-haired people.”
Fortunately for him and his curly-haired family members and friends, Narayan overcame his irrational fear by the time he finished elementary school and returned to the U.S., knowing that “curly hair couldn’t actually hurt [him].”
“My mom didn’t have curly hair when I was little, but she did curl her hair eventually, and by then it didn’t freak me out because I knew my mom would never scare me,” Narayan said.
Narayan, who has had natural curls his entire life, had also grown accustomed to avoiding mirrors that showed his own curly-haired image, but now, he “looks at himself in reflections whenever he has the chance.”
While there wasn’t a defining moment that cured his phobia, Narayan eventually overcame his fear of curly hair just as how he conquered his acrophobia after various experiences of visiting glass towers, rock climbing and travelling in airplanes.
Just as exposing himself to heights helped him adjust to his fear of them, seeing many people with different hairstyles in America gradually made him no longer fearful of curly-haired people.
“I got to see how everyone has distinct styles when I came back to America, and I’m good now,” Narayan said.

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