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.
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 SurveyMonkey.com 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.
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.