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Oh, you want curly hair? Here’s a reality check

As a curly-haired woman, I’ve often been subject to the jealousy of straight-haired women who marvel at my spirals going, “It’s so gorgeous! I wish my hair were curly.” Yeah, no girl, you don’t. Be careful what you wish for. Let me elaborate.

Commercials for beauty products in the 1980s and 1990 were filled with models with long, straight hair. Shampoo, hair oil, hell, even life insurance commercials had only straight-haired women. I wanted hair just like those women, which I could push back with my stylish sunglasses, flip around sexily, and then it’d fly glamorously in the wind when a guy passed by because hey, that’s exactly what happens in real life. Just not to curly-haired girls.

Because when you have curls, they see the wind coming to rustle them and go “Oh yeah, you and whose army, bitch?” Trying to push back curls with your sunglasses is fine. Getting them untangled from those sunglasses afterward is the 13th Labour of Hercules. As for letting them loose for a duration over 10 minutes: have you ever been caught in a power cut? In the middle of the summer? Under a blanket? Yeah. That.

Why didn’t I just straighten my hair, you ask? There are two answers to that. The first is, I’m deeply middle-class. So spending a ton of money and time on an activity that has to be repeated on a fortnightly basis doesn’t sit well with me. And secondly, I haven’t had great luck with hair… experiments. I tried to get a fringe, ended up with flicks that ballooned into a tuft of hair floating at my hairline like a wispy, cottony cloud of surreality. I tried hair color – the parlor lady didn’t have the deep red I wanted, so I got a color she assured me would look copper. It looked orange and didn’t fade for MONTHS. I did get my hair ironed once, and my friend told me I looked like “Morticia Adams…what? That’s a compliment!” I also tried the lob – the long bob – a haircut designed to make curly haired women look like they’ve escaped from a mental asylum, where they look at inmates and go, “Here, have a pair of scissors.”

So yeah, no. No straightening for me. Just the same ol’ haircut over and over again. Because no matter what fancy salon you go to, no matter which deeply expensive stylist you consult, unless you cut your curly hair drastically short, people will never know you’ve had a haircut. And I’m not even getting into the percentage of my annual income I spend on “products” designed to amplify, tame, boost, sculpt, and generally make my curls look like those of a cover girl. (Spoiler: They do nothing of the sort.)

Now, I can see the pros of curls – no combing required and apparently, they make you look wild and carefree (entirely false advertising in my case). But trust me when I say, it’s just a case of the grass being greener on the other side parting.


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