I thought about not writing this post, but you know what? Hair has been on my mind.
I sometimes daydream about starting a separate beauty blog so that I can get sent lush PR samples from coveted brands while simultaneously lashing out at the industry, but I don’t have time for that. Besides, other people are already doing it better than I could.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think about cosmetics, fashion, or the whole “appearance” industry from time to time, though. And, like everything, I have something to say about it.
When I was 12, I started straightening my hair. I did it for three reasons: 1). because it appealed to my inner sense of neatness; 2). because I felt that it made me look older, something I was always striving to do since I was (and am) very, very short; and 3). because I had deduced that it made me more “conventionally” attractive. Conventional according to the residents of mostly-white, middle-class American suburbs in the early 2000s, that is.
Throughout middle school, high school, and much of college, whenever I wasn’t sleep-deprived, I straightened my hair. Heat has a magical effect on my hair: it becomes obediently straight and shiny, much to the admiration of boys who later came out as gay in middle school, various crushes in high school, and adults everywhere.
Do you straighten your hair?
Yeah, I reply, feeling somewhat guilty about the fact that I rely on an iron to make it look this way.
Cool. I have to admit, I like straight hair better. It just seems more natural somehow.
That conversation, in various iterations and interactions, has taken place countless times throughout my life. I’m well aware that curls were an integral part of idealized femininity from about 1900-1960, but then modernism stepped in, and curls suddenly seemed stuffy and girly. Beauty trends come and go, but it seems like corporate culture has infiltrated every part of modern life–to the extent that it makes sense to say, “If your hair isn’t under control, then you’re not under control.” I remember stepping out of a theater and remarking to my friend that all of the good guys in the movie had normal, straight hair, while all of the bad guys had crazy, frizzy, not-perfectly-symmetrical hair. It even went a step further: some people were getting injected with a biological concoction that made them go crazy, and by the time their “transformation” was complete, so, too, was their hair a complete mess.
I fought these ideas for a long time by fighting with my hair. I’ve gone through phases before where I’ll suddenly declare, “Why do I bother with this nonsense?!” and subsequently refuse to straighten my hair for 2-3 days. But it never lasts. That sense of being out-of-control returns, and I compulsively plug in my straightener.
At 23, I think I’m finally tired of putting up with that cycle. I’ve noticed my mom is susceptible to the same thought process; she prefers her hair to be straight, too. But I’ve always thought that she looks better with it naturally curly–it’s lighter, bouncier, and makes her look younger. Maybe if I hadn’t been so hell-bent on trying to look like Rory Gilmore in middle school, I would have realized that people liked my curly hair just as much as they liked my straight hair.
Two weeks ago this Thursday, I got 4 inches lobbed off my hair. It gets heavy in the summer, like a thick wooly blanket on my neck, and I’m sick of it. I’m also sick of straightening it, and I’m sick of waking up early to do so. I’ve never been able to get up on time in the morning. Leaving my hair curly means I can “fix it” in 5 minutes, thanks to the combined efforts of Bumble & Bumble curl defining cream and some moderately armor-like hairspray. So that’s the “natural” curl in the photo above. More natural, at any rate, than frying my hair at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes.
I have not straightened my hair in 12 days. It’s not a long time, but it’s a start.
P.S. I didn’t write this post because I was fishing for compliments. If you think my hair looks nice in the picture and want to tell me, go right ahead. But I’m cool if you don’t. Notice that I obscured my face with the camera. I was trying to write a post about physical appearance without fully revealing mine. Makes perfect sense, right?