Keli Fulton to wear her hair the way Mother Nature intended

From being called "squirrel" to using orange juice cans to having bad haircuts, women with curly hair have heard, tried, and experience it all. But now what was considered a fashion faux pas is cutting edge.

"I'm enjoying hair," says hair stylist Mercedes Vazquez who also has curly hair.

Vazquez is one of a growing number of women saying bye-bye to budget busting blowouts, foregoing the flat iron, and kicking costly keratin treatments to the curb to embrace their curls.

According to a survey by "TextureMedia, INC.", an online company specializing in textured hair car, 88% more women are willing to wear their hair in its naturally curly state than just five years ago.

"They want an alternative. They're tired of it, " says Katrina Rodriquez, owner and stylist at Curls Rock Hair Studio in Boca Raton, a salon that caters exclusively to women with curly hair. "They see their hair is breaking and it's dry and frizzy and no one is addressing it. I have new clients every week like 'help me! I have Keratin damage. I have flat iron damage. I have relaxer damage' ".

Bouncy curls also equals big bucks for hair care companies. According to L'Oreal, the curly haired market netted 185 billion dollars last year and on average curly-haired customers spend 38% more than straight haired ones.

Still, Rodriguez admits getting them to love their natural texture can sometimes be a hairy situation. Especially when magazines and even in some cases managers send the message that straighter is better!

"I was refused a job because of my curly hair. They told me curly hair was unprofessional, " explains Vazquez.

One woman who bucked that trend and got the job is Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. The chair of the Democratic National Committee is looked at as somewhat of a "hair hero" in the curly community. For women with naturally curly hair, she's proof you can be both credible and curly.

"Over the years, I've realized this is who I am. It's a natural part of my ethnic background, says Wasserman-Schultz. There are tons of Jewish women with curly hair and now I feel like it's a part of embracing the pride I have in my ethnicity and my Jewish heritage."

These women aren't the only ones going against the grain. I too, have decided to ditch the relaxers, wigs, and weaves and am now choosing to wear my hair the way Mother Nature intended.

For Vazquez and other curlies, it comes down to this--"Straighten a curly girl for a day she'll be happy for a day. Teach her to love and embrace her curls and she'll be happy for life."

And perhaps that, a happy life, is the most beautiful thing of all.

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