When I was traveling last week and the week before, I encountered an idea that always makes me kind of nuts… the idea that naturally curly hair isn’t as good as straight hair.
I first encountered this attitude when visiting one of my friends. It was a fantastic visit except for one thing… my friend’s eight-year-old daughter, whom I’ll call Valerie, started questioning what makes someone hot.
We were looking at old pictures of Valerie’s mom, and I said to her, “Doesn’t your mom look pretty?” and Valerie said, “Kind of, but she’s not hot.”
“Why not?” I asked Valerie.
“Because of her hair. It’s not straight. It’s all puffy.”
“Well, that was in style back then,” I told Valerie. “Trust me, your mom was hot.”
“No,” Valerie insisted with all the self-assurance of Heidi Klum. “She wasn’t.”
Valerie was adamant, and I saw no way to change her mind. Still, I didn’t want to simply give in to her belief, so I added, “You don’t have to have straight hair to be hot.”
“Yes, you do,” Valerie said, again as sure of herself as a supermodel.
Then, a few days later, I was visiting my sister’s family when the same issue came up AGAIN with my nieces, ten-year-old Lucy and twelve-year-old Ethel (obviously not their real names).
“Your hair would look so much better straight, Aunt Molly,” Lucy said. “Will you please let us straighten it?”
“But I like it curly,” I said. “How about you can do my hair but keep it curly?”
“No, Aunt Molly!” Lucy said, pushing me to give in. “We want it straight!”
I looked at Ethel, the quieter of my two nieces. “It looks really good straight,” Ethel said somewhat reluctantly, agreeing with her sister.
“Okay, fine,” I said, not really caring if I had straight hair for a day or not.
Still, the whole time I kept thinking, why do these young girls think straight hair is so much more attractive than curly hair? Where do they learn that?
Of course, I didn’t have to think about it very long.
Turn on the TV or open a magazine and all you see are stick-thin women with long straight hair—often made longer with extensions.
One time I was out shopping with my nieces when we saw a young woman with super long blond hair (obviously fake) as well artificially white teeth, an equally artificial dark tan, Daisy Dukes, and a tight v-neck t-shirt that showed off her tiny waist and out of proportion large boobs. The girls were wowed.
“Look, Aunt Molly!” Ethel said as she blushed at the woman. “She’s so pretty.”
“She is?” I asked the two of them, not hiding the skepticism in my voice. “I think she looks fake.”
“No,” Lucy insisted. “She looks beautiful.”
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I tell you that both Lucy and Ethel really are beautiful—simultaneously beautiful and incredibly natural looking in that way that comes so easily when you’re young and is so hard to achieve as you age.
But if young girls today think that a fake tan, fake teeth, fake straight hair, and fake boobs are what make women beautiful, then I fear that the adult women of the future will all look exactly the same.