Curly Hair vs Straight Hair: The Never Ending Battle

    Guest post by author Jennifer Moss twitterbird

    Me in 1988

    From talking with my girlfriends, I’ve found that girls who grew up with curly hair always wanted straight hair. And those who had straight hair always wanted curly. I was the former: I had frizzy, thick, wavy hair that got curlier as I grew older. That was great in the 80’s when curly hair was all the rage, but then the styles went straight. Since then, I have blown-out, ironed, flat-ironed and even chemically straightened my hair. The chemical straightening worked wonders, if you wanted to sit in a salon chair for 5-7 hours, every six weeks. Not to mention the hundreds of dollars draining the pocketbook.

    The man I’m now seeing didn’t even know my hair was curly until four months in, when we traveled together. After my shower, when I came out (literally from the bathroom and figuratively as a curly-head), I revealed I was not the woman whom he thought I was. I flat-ironed my hair on a regular basis. The conversation went something like this:

    HIM: I don’t understand why you spend so much time and energy straightening your hair, your curls are cute.
    ME: Cute?! You think this is cute?! (Half my face was hidden by frizz)
    HIM: Yes! You look like a poodle.

    I marched back into the bathroom and plugged in the flat iron.

    My natural “poodle” hair

    In the African-American community, the decision to keep natural curls or straighten has become an issue of cultural pride. According to a study by consumer research firm Mintel, the number of black women with natural hair jumped from 26% in 2010 to 36% in 2011. The report also stated that between 2006 and 2011 there was a 17% percent drop in the sales of hair relaxers.

    I decided to conduct an informal poll on and asked if curly, wavy or straight hair was most attractive. Although most people responded that it depends on the person, the second highest response was that curly hair was the least attractive—on both men and women. Granted, of the 87 respondents, 97%  were Caucasian. For those who grew up with curly hair, none—zero percent—responded that curly hair was most attractive on a woman. For those who grew up with straight hair, only 4% responded that straight hair was most attractive on a woman. Grass is always greener (or straighter, or curlier) on the other side.

    My hair straightened, then curled

    In the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that curls have been slowly coming back into style. Not the tight, curly coifs of the 80’s. But a softer curl, just on the bottom half of the hair. Now, to achieve this effect, I have to straighten my unruly mop and then use a curling iron on the bottom to get the soft, even curls that I see on the red carpet. The fact that I straight iron—then curl iron—really confounds the boyfriend!

    Are you happy with your natural hair or do you alter it? I want to hear your feedback in the comments!

    Jennifer Moss is a writer and author of the Ryan Doherty mystery series.


    1. You really aren’t being fair in your “poodle hair” photo. What does it look like with some kind of natural curl hair product to help give it more shape and control? (I remember perming my hair dozens of times back in the 80’s to look like your natural hair!)

    2. Girl, first off you look younger now than you did in 88! I like your hair straight…and my hair can go both ways. i like it curly in the summer because I don’t have to do much to it.

    3. Love this piece! I have very curly hair and ever since 13 years old my GHD has been my best friend. After years of heat and damage I decided to do the Brazilian treatment, which actually destroyed my hair… So finally, after MANY bad hair days, I have learned to embrace my curls.. We always want what we can’t have, so we need to embrace what we do have by finding what works best for our particular style.

    4. This is why I love my VERY short, VERY easy to take care of hair. 🙂 I wash it when I shower at night and then in the morning I wet it, comb it and go, sometimes not even taking a comb to it once during the day. I’ve never dyed my hair or used an iron on it. Once in the 80s I permed my hair to the curls like Jennifer’s, but other than that one time, it’s purely low maintenance for me. 🙂

    5. I am proud curly girl! In my teen years I spent a lot of time burning my scalp with relaxers, but over time I learned that my curls are an asset! I now rarely straighten my hair because my wash n wear curls are so easy to maintain.

      • Thanks! There are times I just let it “go natural” as long as I have the right products to control the frizz. Ouidad products work very well. I learned about them from Jodi Picoult! I love her curls.

    6. i’m on the other end of the spectrum. i have stick-straight, long hair and since i was a kid have wanted curly hair. there was a girl i went to high school with and even now, 15 years later (wow i’m old!) i still think about that girl’s gorgeous hair. i used to tell her all the time i wanted to switch hair – and she was all for it. she hated her curls! i can’t even get my hair to hold a curl with heat products so i haven’t even bothered in years to try. i’m thinking of getting a body wave, but i’m a little worried it will look too “perm”-y. my hairdresser promises me that it won’t, and the rods that are used are huge and will result in pretty, bouncy waves that i’ll love. i’m still trying to talk myself into it but it definitely would be a nice change!


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