Why Can’t Curly Hair Be Sexy, Too?
When I was younger, I despised my hair. My hair had been straight when I was little, but around age 12, it mysteriously started turning very curly. This event was not only very confusing, but I had no idea what to do with this monster that had made itself at home on my head. I didn’t know anyone with hair like mine—all my classmates ironed out the last trace of curl from their hair. Avril Lavigne was my idol (because I was sooo punk rock, obviously), and she exemplified the stylish hairstyle of the time—hair that was straight-ironed relentlessly until it was as flat as the Texas plains. For most of my classmates, this look was easy to achieve. It was a few minutes with a straight iron every day. For me, it required a chemical relaxer that was terrible for my hair, and even then, I averaged about eight hours a week with the flat iron. (Eventually I let my hair go natural again, for fear of becoming bald and losing all my fingers to flat iron burns.)
Right after my hair got curly. Can’t you see the confusion in my eyes?
Although the Avril Lavigne straw-hair isn’t in style anymore, neither are my curls. In our society, straight hair is the norm, and anyone with curly or natural hair is the anomaly. Curly hair is something that stands out. Straight hair is generally more desired—it’s smooth, it’s shiny, it’s easy. When you open a magazine that proclaims to give you great hair tips, said tips are for people with straight/wavy hair (i.e. people who can use a brush without completely ruining their look). When was the last time you saw a curly-headed lady in a shampoo commercial? Curls just aren’t part of our society’s conventional ideas about beauty.
For one, curly hair isn’t generally seen as sexy. My poofy hair has often been compared to a poodle—fancy, perhaps, but not sexy. After I went blond, numerous people told me my hair reminded them of ramen noodles. I mean, really? Clearly, neither of those things is very sexy or attractive, especially when they’re on one’s head. I’ve never seen a magazine ad campaign or bombshell actress that rocked curly hair. Once, I straightened my hair for a Halloween costume and an acquaintance told me, “You are way hotter with straight hair.” First of all, he had no business giving me his assessment of my appearance (like I would care what he thought), and second of all, WTF?! Why can’t curly hair be attractive? Because it bounces instead of swooshes? Because it’s fun? I am going to have not-so-politely disagree with that dude and everyone else who says that straight hair is “hotter.”
Oftentimes, too, curly hair isn’t seen as professional. I know that I’ve gone into job interviews nervous because my hair was acting particularly frizzy that day. My hair is the last thing I want to be judged on in a job interview; yet, our Anglo societal standards have deluded me into thinking that my hair looks silly and not suitable for the workplace. But it’s my hair. I can’t help it. The stuff sprouts from my head like this! Of course it’s professional. Just because executives on TV don’t have curly hair doesn’t mean curly ladies aren’t awesome at their jobs.
I love curly hair! And I can assure you, there isn’t a shortage of people out there who also love curly hair—I get compliments on mine all the time. But yet, mysteriously enough, the small group of people who decide what is beautiful and acceptable only seems to embrace straight, sleek hair (or at the most, wavy hair). I want to see a curly-haired actress playing the femme fatale instead of the overly awkward (and usually bespectacled) geek. I want to see ad campaigns featuring big hair. Really, I just want our society to open its arms to all different types of beauty. And I think a lot of curly ladies would agree with me.
Do you think curly hair is treated differently in society? What are your experiences with having curly hair? Leave us a comment and share!
Reader submission by Kirsten Darner