Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Straight Shooter

In Miscellaneous on July 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm

There are so many urgent, deep and meaningful issues going on in the world today.  War.  Global warming.  Crime.  Unemployment.  And that’s why I’m going to talk about hair.  (That sound you just heard was the click of any male readers leaving this site for ESPN.)  Ladies, you understand.  Hair is a huge focus of time and attention.  It’s not like I even want it to be, and it still is.

I had that sort of category-defying wavy/bushy (read: not attractive) hair until my late teens, when it rather suddenly became curly.  This could be due to the end of puberty but also coincided with a major move, so a change in the local water and humidity in the atmosphere might partially be to blame.  I’ve moved many times since then and have noticed a change in my hair with each different place.  I find this incredibly irritating.  Why do we have to experiment with and find an entirely new hair-care regimen every time we change an address?  It’s expensive, frustrating, and dooms us to months of bad hair days in between.  We’ve lived in our current home for over a year and I still haven’t cracked my new hair-care code yet.

Like many women with curly hair, I long — long, I tell you! — for straight hair.  Oh, those glossy locks, free of flyaways, absent of my mortal enemy frizz … my envy knows no bounds.  Whenever women with naturally straight hair tell me they wish for curls, I just wonder if they’ve never owned a mirror.  When you look like this …

… is there any particular reason you’d want to look like this?

I was in my early 20s when I read the book Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey.  It was a revelation.  For the first time, I felt, if you will, diagnosed.  This book doesn’t just tell you how to care for curly hair.  It’s actually a manifesto for women with curls to rise up and DEMAND THEIR RIGHTS.  This book informed me that I was an underrepresented minority, that most social injustice is actually due to the oppression of curly-haired women by straight-haired women, and that society as a whole has conspired to keep the curly-haired woman down.  I was amazed.  I had been downtrodden and didn’t even know it!  I resolved to follow Lorraine Massey’s formula for caring for curly hair to the letter.  I invested effort in tracking down her recommended products, to say nothing of money, and countless hours following her procedures, and … it didn’t work.

You can't blame me for believing a woman whose curls look as good as this.

I can’t totally discount Curly Girl, though, which has a place on my bookshelf to this day.  Lorraine’s philosophy is that shampoo is evil, and she sells a version called “No-Poo.”  I didn’t think giving up shampoo completely worked well for me, but I do think that limiting the amount you use is probably a good idea for most of us.  The chemicals in the lather are pretty harsh and strip everyone’s hair of the natural oils we’re meant to have.  And I did think she raised a good point in questioning just where our yearning for straight hair comes from.  To this day I still think straight hair looks more “professional.”  But is that because it looks more Western?  In a general sense, curly hair is associated with ethnicity (not every non-white ethnicity, of course, but many of them) and it does seem that the desire for straight hair is a symptom of the blonde-and-blue-eyed Barbie syndrome wherein the more Caucasian you look, the better.  Obviously that’s not something I believe we should be promoting to girls around the world.

What I realized for myself was that it’s not my curls I hate, it’s the frizz.  I’d be perfectly happy to have curly hair if it was controlled and defined as many women’s curls are.  Mine are not.  I straighten my hair (when I have a chance, that is — now in the post-Peanut age, that’s once a month) because that’s the only way to minimize my fuzzy halo.  I assure you I’ve tried everything.  Lorraine Massey developed this special type of haircut for curls called the DevaCut that’s just short of insane.  The stylist devotes 2-3 hours to discussing with you your hair beliefs, your hair history, your hair goals, and then cuts each individual curl one at a time after first examining it to determine which way that particular curl “wants” to be cut.  The curls tell you what they want, not the other way around.  In desperation, I tracked down a Deva stylist in my area for one of these marathon therapy/lunacy sessions.

Didn’t work.

That stylist also recommended that I use much more gel than I had been using (“The biggest problem curly girls have is not using enough product”) which of course prompted the next stylist I saw to tell me I was using way too much gel and should never use any at all (“What are you, crazy?”)

I just browsed some curly-hair online support groups — yes, such things exist, and if you didn’t know that, it means you have no need to know that, which means I’m jealous of you — and apparently an updated edition of Lorraine Massey’s book just came out, so maybe that version would work for me.  (Apparently, curly hair also comes with a healthy dose of delusion.)

So, my universally beautiful friends, I’m throwing this out to you.  What products do you love?  Like I said, I think I’ve tried everything.  Right now, for straightening I’m using a Chi and an anti-frizz serum.  For curls, I’ve swung the pendulum back from salon products to the Garnier Fructis line with mousse, anti-frizz serum and a bit of Lorraine Massey’s AnGEL gel.  Help me!  Together, we can eliminate the worldwide scourge of bad hair!  Next we’ll tackle smallpox!  (Oh, someone already did that?  Great, then they’re free.  They can help with the hair then.)