January 26, 2015

My Hair Does Not Define My Beauty #LoveYourCurls


dove love your curls


Few people know I have curly hair. I just don’t wear my hair that way too often. And I do my best to keep it straight. Although I am very low maintenance when it comes to my hair, the fact is I almost always blow dry my hair. If I know I’m not going out I may let it dry naturally, but that’s not common.

When I went to get my hair cut this week, I had already started seeing the new Dove campaign called “Love your curls”. It made me cry. Then again, those kind of ads with little girls and their moms do that to me. I hate to see little girls and tween girls so down on themselves. Do we have to keep that cycle of self-dislike alive? Have we not learned how to raise our girls in the nearly 40 years since I’ve been a little girl?

According to the Dove Hair Study, 1 in 3 US women have wavy to curly hair. That’s half of the global number, which sits at about 65%. Yes, there are studies that show more than half of the women in the world have wavy or curly hair. Yet, pull up a gallery of women from any Hollywood awards show and see if you can find but a few with curly hair.

There are formal and informal studies about the perception of women based on their hair. Consistently, women with curly or wavy hair don’t fare as well as those with straight hair. Dove’s study on curly hair is reporting slightly different results than the one Loreal conducted less than two years ago when it came out with its line of products for curly hair. In the Loreal study, it seems that there was a more positive response to curly and wavy hair. So why the difference?

Part of it is marketing. Well, a lot of it is marketing. Loreal took a different angle and went with the perspective that people found women with curly hair to be “fun” and “adventurous” and “sexy”. Dove, on the other hand continues its theme of how women (mainly moms) feel about themselves and how that impacts their daughters. When looking at the limited results that were published, both are correct. Because it has a lot to do with who you ask.

I like the message in the Dove ad, don’t get me wrong. Maybe this time the message will be a bit stickier. Perhaps now is the time for the media, in general, to project positive messages and public discourse about curly hair. But I’m not sure we’ve moved away from the obsession over straight hair and its association with being “classy” or “sophisticated” as opposed to “frazzled” or “unkept”. The conversations about Michelle Obama’s hair, and that of the first daughters‘, often provides praise when it is straight. And let’s not mention Beyonce and the uproar that was Blue Ivy’s hair. And we wonder why little girls with brown skin want straight hair.

So me, what does this have to do with me? Well, I’m part of the conversation. A conversation about hair and the social pressures it creates and the stereotypes that come with it. It’s a conversation that takes twists and turns, like the ones surrounding Merida from the Disney movie Brave. When Disney re-imagined the spunky teen into a full-fledged Disney Princess back in 2012 there was quite an uproar. Much of it had to do with how her body was changed, but there were many who felt changing Merida’s “frizzy” hair into something more smooth and wavy was a disservice to curly-haired girls everywhere. Petra Guglielmetti, beauty writer at Glamour.com was not happy, saying ‘Having a curly-haired daughter has changed my feelings about hair texture in this world. More specifically, I wish there were more celebration of natural curls in our popular culture.’ She said that 18 months ago. Yet, here were are. No further in this conversation.

There is obviously a need to have this conversation. And any time a little girl feels bad about herself because of the way she looks we need to take a long hard look at why. We can blame the media all we want, but Dove is right. It starts with us, moms. It aways starts with us and how we look at ourselves. The problem with putting all the responsibility on us moms is that we still have the societal prejudices of the past and present to deal with. We still have to reconcile it within us, which doesn’t make it easy for us to put on a happy face after years of wondering if things would be different if we did our hair a different way.

I’m generally indifferent to my curly/wavy hair. I don’t have an agenda in drying my hair straight. That is, I don’t have an overt agenda. But may, just maybe, all those years of being made fun of for having wavy hair did take its toll. I’m not all of a sudden going to change how I do my hair. What I will do, though, is make sure I’m much more cognizant of the women and girls I come across who have curly or wavy hair and be sure to let them know they are beautiful. Not because of or in spite of their hair, but just because they are!

My hair does not define my beauty, neither does your hair define yours. But until we make it clear to the pundits, the commentators, the gossip writers, and the media that using someone’s hair style to define the person we’re not righting this ship any time soon. When we can look at women with curly hair and see their beauty without commenting on their hair we’ll know the conversation with our girls will begin to get easier. Until then, I’ll continue to focus on what’s inside my head and not what’s on the outside. As it should be.

Watch the ad below and let me know what you think.



Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot January 26, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Hi Sara,

I love curly hair! Mine is as straight as spaghetti so I permed it for about 1o years during the eighties and early nineties from about the age of 15! I guess I gave up bothering at a certain point but it wasn’t until my later that straight hair became fashionable.

I’m sorry you got teased for having wavy hair. Some people are just bullies and will be mean to everyone about anything.

Anyway, I’m sure wavy hair will come back in vogue sometime soon – and even if it doesn’t I hope you can love your luscious locks 🙂

Sara January 30, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Hi Annabel, isn’t it funny that we want to have different hair regardless of the kind we have. As for the teasing, kids sometimes can be mean. Luckily, I’m at a point in life where I’ve realized that people I call friend don’t care what my hair looks like. ~ Sara

Shifra January 26, 2015 at 7:09 pm

I love that you blogged about this! Cute commercial. I also usually blow my hair straight….

Sara January 30, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Shifra, I love your hair! Probably because it’s kind of like mine. 🙂 It is a cute commercial and I think it’s great that they’re trying to help young girls see that curly hair is beautiful despite what they may see or hear in society.

Robyn Wright January 27, 2015 at 11:30 am

Really interesting. I had no idea that straight hair is seen in a more positive light. My hair used to have so much more natural curl and wave in it and as I have gotten older it is disappearing and I miss it terribly! Heck as a teen we all got perms to make our hair curly even.

Sara January 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Thank you for visiting, Robyn. It wasn’t until seeing the ad and doing a bit of research that I realized that straight hair is the beauty standard. Probably because I like a diverse segment of actresses and musicians. This whole aging thing is annoying, too. It’s been doing crazy stuff to my hair the past few years. Hopefully it will settle down because I’m finally able to figure out what to do with it.

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