Monday, August 8, 2011

Curl Talk

Judith Newman wrote a piece in the NYT about being curly in a straight world. Weaselsnob emailed me about it. We both have bathroom cabinets full of half-empty bottles promising to fight frizz and tame curls.

Ms. Newman points out that lots of curly girls pass for straight (it is not possible, she writes, that all news anchors have naturally straight hair). For some reason, Newman notes, straight hair is generally perceived as more attractive, more respectable, more refined, more business-like, and on and on.

I only wish she had gone even further in illustrating how pervasive the bias against curly hair is. Off the top of my head:

1. Sandy in Grease.
Want to achieve a super trampy look that signals to your loser greaser boyfriend that you're leaving the whole good girl thing behind? Go super curly (and wear spandex).

2. Tangled.
Rapunzel has magical, long (straight) hair. Her evil witch of a step-mother is curly, curly, curly.

3. Katy Perry's "TGIF" Video
The awkward teen alter ego of Russell Brand's wife has glasses, head gear, and-- horrors-- really bad frizzy hair!

4. Glenn Close

On Damages, Glenn Close plays a brilliant lawyer with straight hair.
In Fatal Attraction.... yup, curly. Super curly.

5. Juliana Margulies

On The Good Wife, she is putting the pieces of her life together and improbably handling (and winning) trials as a first year associate with (impossibly) straight hair.

On ER, one of Nurse Hathaway's first scenes finds her being wheeled into the ER after trying to kill herself. Her hair is as unstable as she is.

6. Natalie Portman in The Other Woman (I just saw this on a plane)

As a woman trying to build a relationship with her new stepson and to cope with the recent death of her baby, Natalie's character is an emotional mess (as telegraphed by her wild, poofy, frizzy hair).

At the end, the movie jumps ahead to a time when Natalie's character is more mentally stable. And guess what? So is her hair! It looks good for the first time.

7. The Princess Diaries

Anne Hathaway's character is transformed from ugly duckling to royal swan by-- yup-- straightening her hair. (Same trick that happens on almost every makeover show, especially What Not to Wear).

I've come to terms with my curly hair. But I've got my fingers crossed hoping that my daughter's hair stays straight. And if it doesn't? Well, at least she'll have my lifetime of curl wrangling knowledge at her disposal, along with way better products than were available when I was a teenager (omg, mousse?! why???).

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