The title of the article is, “Curly vs. Straight: Which Do Men Prefer?”
I’ve always felt saddened, disappointed, and a little angry by this article and, judging by the number of times it’s been released, the curly world’s interest in the topic.
There are themes throughout this article that support the misguided notion that we should allow others to dictate our feelings about ourselves, and, furthermore, that those of us with curls should be open to the possibility that our curls make us inherently unattractive and unlovable.
Why, in this day and age, are we still having articles thrown our way asking what others prefer? Weren’t we supposed to have moved past that by now?
Where is our power? Where is our confidence in the beautiful creatures that we are? Why are we letting other people dictate whether or not we believe we are pretty, instead of seeking out companions that make us feel good about ourselves?
More to the point than what “men” prefer is what WE prefer… as in, would (or should) any of us want to date someone that would, based solely on hair style, dismiss the idea of getting to know people as fabulous as we so obviously are?
One of the hardest things in life is simply figuring out what makes us happy and what makes us feel beautiful. Once that is accomplished (and it often takes many, many years), it is amazing how easy it is to find people that love and appreciate us. Yes, it sounds like hippie talk. But you know what? Those hippies get a lot of things right.
The author mentions that first impressions count. This is a true statement, and often very important in interviews and other professional relationships (whether straight vs. curly hair is appropriate in a professional environment is an entirely separate issue that I will not go into here, but don’t be surprised to see a separate post about it sometime in the near future).
The thing is, though, this isn’t a business deal. This isn’t a sales pitch. This is a date. This is about two people attempting to get to know each other on what has potential to be a deeply personal level.
I have nothing for or against hair that’s either curly or straightened, but deciding how to wear your hair based on what another person may or may not prefer is dishonest to you and to the other person. The goal is to let the person get to know you, for you to get to know them, and to mutually decide if you are a good match for each other. You want them to love you for you. Not the façade, but the self with whom you truly identify. It is only then that you will both learn if you are a good match.
And really, if this is a person that is going to look at you in a way that makes you feel less than lovely every time a burst of moisture hits your hair, are they really someone that you want as your mate? Wouldn’t you prefer to have someone around who thinks you are lovely, beautiful, makes you feel cherished…
Or is the issue that you don’t think that’s possible?
That brings me to the next issue I had with the article. Do you think that your curls – an essential part of your being – make you inherently unattractive? The author seems to think that it’s something you should consider. After all, your curly hair could result in men running in fear from you and your womb drying up like a raisin. That’s the whole point of the article, isn’t it?
My attitude towards my natural hair is that the fates, God, Mother Earth, nature, and everything else I might believe in on any given day have all worked together to decide my hair texture. Every last twist, bend, and coil is a factor of uncountable pairings going back to the dawn of time. This is how the planet meant for me to be. This is me, in my most basic, raw, and beautiful state.
I am curly, hear me roar. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Moving on… I have curls because my parents both have curls, and their parents before them, and probably their parents before them, and so on. And who is to say that this tremendous genetic combination that has resulted in ME being ME is wrong in some way? More to the point, why would I allow a group or entity that feels that way to have a voice?
I am beautiful. I am me. There is nothing about me that needs to be changed or “fixed” in order to make me more lovable.
I feel very strongly that my curls are a mark of who I am, who my ancestors were, and where I come from. My curls are as strong a part of my heritage, my background, my sense of self as the countries my ancestors emigrated from and the religious beliefs that I hold.
WHY WOULD I WANT TO DATE SOMEONE THAT I FELT I HAD TO HIDE ANY OF THAT FROM???
Clearly, I wouldn’t. The author feels differently, though. Again, if she enjoys wearing her hair straight I have nothing against her doing so because SHE likes the way it looks. What saddens me is that she seems to allow others’ views – even just their potential or perceived views – dictate her feelings about her appearance.
For example, date #1 clearly isn’t a fan of the curls. The author seems to internalize this rejection instead of recognizing that, as far as I can tell, her date is kind of a dick. The focus is on HIS feelings about HER appearance, not HER feelings towards him or the situation. She does not seem to realize that she is allowing an imbalance of power to occur; she is allowing the man’s feelings to decide her feelings about herself and her hair.
Date #2… oh boy. Date #2 is more of the same. Reading about date #2 makes me feel awful for the author. Not because her hair frizzes out… oh no, not that. Rather, I feel terrible that she has such horrible hatred for her hair. Throughout date #2 are negative remarks about natural hair.
Here are a few:
“I can’t see it, but suddenly I feel my stick-straight locks expand, to the right and left, up and down, like they’re waving hello.” She stops eating, clearly in a panic, and tries to… do what?
“I stop eating, my fingers now entangled in a tress tug-of-war.” She is literally doing battle with her head, seeing her natural hair as an adversary instead of her partner in beauty.
“As we enter the restaurant, I excuse myself in search of a mirror to manage my mane. Still frizzy! I give up.” She’s giving up, and is resigned to… thinking of herself as unattractive.
“Me — and my big hair — are standing face-to-face with Alec Baldwin. Yes, the actor. And yes, this IS happening. Flushed and flustered in frizz, I mumble hello with my hands over my head and race back to the table…” A suggestion for a better way to handle this situation: Laugh. Ignore the frizz. Smile. Hey, if you’re a curly and you straighten, you run the risk of this happening. Own it and move on. And if you meet Alec Baldwin, smile and tell him you’re a fan. Dang, one of the reasons Alec Baldwin is a favorite of mine is that he doesn’t seem to take things all that seriously.
“My date’s friend agrees my hair would look better out of the way. But my date encourages me to set it free. “It looks fine,” he says, nonchalantly.” Now that the guy thinks her hair is okay she’ll allow herself to relax. Clearly that’s what’s most important to the author; whether a man thinks she’s attractive or not. Her views of herself or him aren’t worthy of consideration.
Self-hatred is evident throughout date #2, which is why I feel so badly for the author upon reading it. How awful and painful to have to go through life feeling that way about yourself.
Dates #3 and #4 sound normal enough. Neither man seems to care whether her hair is straight or curly (which, personally, is where I think the vast majority of men fall on this issue).
However, it sounds as though the author feels dates #5 and #6 think women who wear their hair natural are going to get physical with them faster than a straight haired women would.
Date #5: ““Whether it’s curly or straight, it doesn’t matter — as long as there’s enough hair to hold onto!” he says. I laugh, not quite knowing how to respond to that one.” Well, it seems she was rather thrown by the comment and felt it was inappropriate. It’s okay to not know how to respond in such a situation… but I think many women ignore little comments like this and let them slide even when we feel bothered, objectified, or belittled by them. It would have been lovely to see her reveal and own her feelings about her date’s comment, even if just in the article if she didn’t feel able to do it in person.
Regardless, the guy sounds like he’s trying to get some, and odds are good he means what he says – he’d be trying to get some no matter how his date wore her hair.
Date #6 is the last date described in the article, so, of course, we are hoping to see a positive, curl-affirming conclusion to the experiment. The beginning does not bode well:
“It’s month two, time to replace the straight photos with curly ones. Within days, frustration sets in. Not as many e-mails, even fewer winks.”
Again, disappointingly, we see curly self-hatred. The fact is, there are many factors that might play into not receiving as many responses once the curly picture is posted, but none are mentioned. For example, new members on a dating site are often seen as “fresh meat.” Most of the time, the largest number of responses will be received within a few days of setting up an online profile, and after that initial influx things will often peter out a bit. Another potential reason is that there are times of year and specific dates (e.g., certain holidays that make one more aware of one’s single status than others) when response rates will be higher. One of those holidays could have occurred during the first month of the exercise. Or one of many other factors could have come into play…
But alas, the author chooses to believe, and to let other women believe, the misguided idea that curls are a possible deterrent to finding true love.
Date #6 grabs at her hand and does something described as an attempt to “play touch football” that I don’t know the meaning of. I’m assuming he tried to touch her inappropriately, but again, I believe that a guy who is a slimeball is going to be one regardless of his date’s hair style. It seems the author and I agree on this one:
“…maybe he assumed curlies (even disguised by a flat iron) are more flirtatious than our naturally straight counterparts. Maybe he would have been aggressive regardless of a woman’s hairstyle, or maybe he was simply looking for love at breakneck speed. I do not know.”
Towards the end, as appropriate, we see the author’s conclusion:
“What I do know is that when it comes to voting for curly or straight, if a man says it depends, perhaps it really does. It depends on confidence. Stepping into a date with a smile can make all the difference.”
This poor woman seems to be saying that while “it depends” might mean curly is okay, it might also mean it isn’t. But we should have confidence and smile, and then maybe men will like us despite our curls.
The issue being addressed in this article seems to be the question of whether one should dramatically alter one’s appearance in the hopes of making the search for a mate more successful.
It’s true that there are men out there who like straight hair. There are also men out there who like curly hair. There are an infinite variety of hair color/hair texture/skin color/eye color/bone structure/face shape/height/body type/makeup preference combinations in this world, and there are potential mates who potentially have preferences about every one of those items and many, many more.
Do what makes you feel good. Be honest about who you really are. Love yourself. It’s worth it in the end… because you’ll wind up with someone who loves and appreciates every last thing about you, instead of spending the rest of your life with someone who makes you feel inadequate or “not right” in some way.
Always remember: The challenge of dating isn’t to find just any mate. The challenge is to find the RIGHT mate. And the right mate isn’t going to give a rat’s ass whether you showed up curly or straight for your first date.