After an upwards of 10 years spent straightening, blowing, flattening and scorching my ringlets into the latest “It” style (read: straight; it’s always some f*cking version of straight), I recently decided to forgo the tools, leave it up to Mother Nature and just wear my curly hair naturally.
I was tired of having to schedule when I should do my hair a week in advance. I was tired of choosing between working out and salvaging my blowout.
Because “doing my hair” isn’t just a 30-minute ordeal. It’s a sweaty, grueling arm workout that take 75 minutes when I’m being careful and 60 when I burn some part of my face.
And just so we’re clear on the definition of “curly” before we move forward with this article, I’m not referring to the girl who has Gisele-like, curling-iron waves and tries to pass this off as wah, curly. No one feels bad for you. Your hair is the sh*t I dream about. I’m talking about Solange-meets-Felicity tight coils that can never be slept on correctly and for which there is no dream Pinterest board.
On a good day (when the weather is bone-dry and slightly cool) my hair has been compared, more often than I consider to be complementary, to Carrie Bradshaw’s. The remaining 364 days of the year, however, it varies somewhere between a gelled Lionel Richie and Shakira’s estranged cousin, caught in a sandstorm.
But I soldier on, wearing my crazy curls proudly, not caring if they get a little messed up or if they’ve expanded two feet, even in air-conditioned spaces. Yes, despite my curly-girl frustrations, I really do love my hair.
That is, until I go out to the Singles' Club and don’t even get so much as a side-eye glance from a man.
Nothing. Not even something I could misconstrue as a remote pick-up line. When trying to grab a man’s attention, it’s like my massive head of hair and the body attached to it don't even exist (which, given the diameter of my curly mass, is quite a feat).
I don’t get it. I’m not not attractive. I’m embracing the Year of the Booty and wearing dark, flared jeans that have that special "oh-you-workout" effect. I put my happy face on thanks to a generous application of makeup. And as for my curls, I actually styled them, meaning they’re looking closer to Kate Hudson in “Almost Famous.” Everyone loves Penny Lane... or so I thought.
I say this all not to brag, but to paint a picture of the typical scene that's led me to believe the foregone conclusion: Men Do Not Find Curly Hair Attractive.
To further prove my point -- and isolate my hair as the sole variable causing all the problems -- I always get favorable male responses after, of course, I've succumbed to society’s sleek-hair standards and splurged on a blow-dry bar. I’m talking about both a “Hey, there” and an invitation to drink.
So there. That’s my scientific experiment. Without changing anything except my hairstyle, I’ve convincingly found men favor straight, polished hair. Case closed.
When I asked one of the few men who's ever-preferred my hair curly over straight why he thought this prevailing sentiment was true, he was genuinely baffled by my observation.
“I think men, if anything, don’t know how to approach such a bold statement of a person,” was his explanation. “Your hair is not the norm, and it makes you harder to figure out.”
Seriously? I have to be comforted with the same men-are-intimidated-by-you excuse that’s doled out to perennially-single girls when you don’t want to hurt their feelings? It’s not even about my personality, it’s about my hair.
“I love it. I think it’s sexy. And it’s much more you,” he quickly added.
This makes me think of Michelle Williams’ quote about her unconventional pixie haircut: "I cut it for the one straight man who has ever liked short hair and I wear it in memorial of somebody who really loved it…. Of course, the only people who like it are gay men and my girlfriends.”
The same holds true for curly hair. Women f*cking love it, have no hesitation touching it and often gasp in excitement over it. No joke, I receive more attention from women than men when I’m out with my natural hair. Women just appreciate the look more.
Normally, when I’m really determined to reign in some male recognition and want a sure-fire come-talk-to-me look from a man, I’ll opt for the blown-out ‘do. It’s not because I don’t like the way I look with straight hair (I actually love the way I feel with a fresh blow-out), it’s that this style is not my hair-texture norm, and I’m afraid of misleading a man about my appearance.
This messed up reasoning has become a pervasive mindf*ck in my early courtship exploits. If I meet a guy with my hair straight, how many dates do I have to wait to flip-the-switch and reveal what I actually look like? Will he still find me attractive with curly hair? Did he not find my Bill Cosby joke funny because I didn’t put gel in?
It’s ridiculous, I know. I literally have to reassure myself the Right Man will love me for my natural hair, as if curls are some kind of shortcoming.
Between Dove's latest Real Beauty Curls campaign and more Love-Your-Whatever advertisements than ever, curly girls are having a moment in the spotlight. For this, I am grateful. Like plus-sized models and gay sex on television, we need more diversity in mainstream media, not only to comfort people like myself, but to also introduce the idea beauty does not come in one set shape, size or, in this case, texture.
Despite all these observations, I’m not asking to stop nor advocating against wearing your hair naturally. I still champion my native curls every day. Because I genuinely love it this way -- it feels more “me” -- big, unique and real.
The day will come when a curly-haired girl like myself meets a nice guy who appreciates all of her attributes and qualities and textures, both outside and in. Until then, I vow to embrace the fantastic head of hair I've been blessed with, bask in the praise from other women and remember, never let my kinks fall flat.