Texture Talk: Kaya Marriott On Her Natural Hair Journey and the Pinterest Collaboration That Followed
Welcome to Texture Talk, a column that celebrates and deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style.
Meet Kaya Marriott: The Canadian content creator, influencer, and blogger behind Comfy Girl with Curls. In 2016, she started a natural hair blog dedicated to sharing resources, tips, and tricks to make life with textured tresses a little easier. Earlier this month, Marriott was tapped by Pinterest to help launch the visual discovery platform’s latest natural hair search tool, which allows users to refine their hair inspiration searches by six different hair patterns: protective, coily, curly, wavy, straight, and shaved/bald.
We caught up with the Vancouver native to chat with her about how she overcame her initial hesitation on wearing natural locks, the impact of being vulnerable on social media and the importance of representation online.
Did you embrace your natural curls while growing up?
I am very fortunate that I grew up with a mom who celebrated my natural hair, but I did not accept it. I felt unattractive and different, especially growing up in Vancouver. My hair was unmanageable, with no resources for how to take care of it. So I grew up blow-drying my hair straight and using a flat iron. In high school, my mom finally gave in and allowed me to get it permanently straightened. I did that for a couple of years. As media started to change and I saw more people embracing their hair, I was like, ‘You know what, maybe my hair is beautiful.’ Since then, I’ve been natural for about seven years, accepting my hair, styling it and owning it.
Did your personal natural hair journey lead you to create Comfy Girl with Curls?
Definitely. When I decided that I wanted to go natural, I wanted to be able to document the experience and my hope was that at least one other person out there could say, ‘You know what, my hair is like hers and it worked for her, maybe I can do it too.’ That was essentially my goal in creating Comfy Girl with Curls. It wasn’t necessarily a massive mission to fill a gap that I wasn’t seeing online; it was that hopefully, I’d be able to help one other person out there.
Has the goal for Comfy Girl with Curls shifted in the past couple of years?
As my platform has grown, I have expanded into categories like fashion and lifestyle. I started very niche with natural hair and as time has gone by, I found that representation is lacking across the board. It’s not just seeing natural hair content and inspiration that people need, people need to see beauty content with natural hair — that’s really powerful. So now, my content might not strictly be natural hair, but it features my natural hair as an added layer of representation.
What’s been the biggest surprise for you since sharing your story?
It’s two-fold. How many people my content has resonated with and also how I’ve been able to connect and have deep connections with people I’ve never met — which is funny for me as an introvert. Opening myself up has allowed me to have genuine connections and that is so wonderful to experience.
Speaking of connections, how did you get involved with Pinterest and what are your thoughts on their new hair pattern search tool?
I’d been in contact with Pinterest in the past, but when they approached me to help shine a light on this amazing initiative focusing on content related to hair and hair patterns, it was an intermediate yes. I loved that a brand like Pinterest was even thinking about hair search tools in that way.
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What was your experience using the hair pattern search tool for the first time?
It really caught me off guard with how impactful it was. The first style I typed in was “wedding hairstyles” — the bar popped up where you could choose different hair patterns and I got very emotional. I am so used to searching for hair content and needing to put in qualifiers, whether that be “natural hairstyles”, “natural wedding hairstyles” or “hairstyles for black women.” I didn’t realize how othering it felt. I would type in the default, and I wouldn’t be anywhere to be seen. There was no representation.
What would you say is the biggest impact this tool provides?
Everybody is on the same playing field. It’s the only search engine that really puts visuals at the forefront. Everyone has the same user experience. It benefits every user. The tool is designed with inclusivity in mind — whether you have straight hair or coiled — and I find that incredibly profound.