Would Jesus Get a Brazilian Blowout?

Thom’s post, in which he mentioned his longing for thick, straight hair, got me thinking about non-straight hair. Shall we call it queer hair? I have the queer gene, which I inherited from two curly-haired parents. Tenth grade biology only covers that T-square thingy for eye color, so I don’t know how hair genetics work. I just know that I have wavy-to-curly hair, and that my younger sister could go full fro if she didn’t use about a pound of product to wrangle her hair into a bun everyday.

You will never be this cool.

Recently I watched an episode of The Millionaire Matchmaker. There’s no excuse for that, but here’s mine: I don’t have cable at home and therefore binge like a kid who’s never tasted candy whenever I’m in a hotel room. The matchmaker, whose schtick is to do the dirty work so her clients can play it cool, gave telling-it-like-it-is assessments to dozens of gold-digging women. Or maybe they were millionaires too—I was a little unclear. To one, she said (I’m paraphrasing), “Get a blowout before your date tonight. Men don’t like curly hair. They want shiny and straight. I’m just telling it like it is.”

This was news to me, and not just because I’m not in the business of dating millionaires of any gender. Weren’t Goldilocks’ locks curly? What about Nellie Oleson, the picture of prairie privilege?* And let’s not forget Simone on Head of the Class, who was my curly hair idol for years.

The hair that launched a thousand spiral perm kits.

Okay, so maybe these examples have not aged well. But every time I see one of those posters for the Brazilian blowout—which apparently works its wonders with formaldehyde and gives hairstylists nosebleeds or something—I can’t help but like the “before” pictures better.

Your sexy new hairstyle will distract from the blood pouring out of your face.

Don’t get me wrong—I think straight hair is beautiful. My girlfriend’s hair is a shorter version of the “after” picture above. Once she got a haircut that she claimed made her look like Jesus. “Come on, admit it,” she said. “When I walk in a room, doesn’t a little part of you think, ‘Here comes the Savior’?”

But Jesus was from the queer-haired Middle East, whereas, I explained to C.C., “You’ve got New World hair, baby.”

So yeah, there are all these ethnic and sociological undercurrents to the curly-vs.-straight debate, as there are with so many aspects of fashion and beauty. At its loudest, we have the Nappy Hair controversy. In subtler forms, we get Keri Russell and Chelsea Clinton trading the curls of their awkward years for sleek new ‘dos. Each time, my sister moans, “Where’s your curly pride?”

There was a vast right-wing conspiracy against this hair.

“Who’s the hot blonde now, Gore daughters?”

As anyone who’s shelled out $9 for a thimble-full of Frizz-Ease knows, the dark underbelly of lovely, cascading curls is frizz. Why do we hate it? It’s our natural state! Of course, so are hairy pits, bushy beards, bushy bushes and death at age 45. Most arguments elevating what’s “natural” fall apart quickly; one of the perks of having opposable thumbs is that we can mess around with what nature gave us. But there’s something very star-bellied Sneetches about always wanting the opposite of what we’ve got.

So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I like a little frizz. Half of the beauty rituals women perform are to make it look like they just had sex, and what’s more post-coital than hair that has rubbed against a pillowcase for twenty minutes? I don’t just mean messy hair—“beachy” and “tousled” looks come and go. I mean more like this:

She just had hot zombie sex. Don’t be jealous.

Of course, what works on the runway often doesn’t work in real life. I found the Marc Jacobs photo above on a beauty website under the headline “Don’t Celebrate Frizzy Hair.” They can’t stop me though. Here I go—I’m gonna celebrate it!

So is Anna Wintour’s foil, Grace Coddington, who I want to be when I grow up. Her hair accurately announces, I am an original and an old soul, and I travel with a wind machine.

No power bob for her.

So is this woman. She’s taking in gorgeous tropical views and not worrying about the humidity, thanks to a trusty bandana whose job is to contain, not hide.

Rosie needed a vacation from all that riveting.

So is this dog. You just know breeders worked for hundreds of years to get those bad-ass dreadlocks.

He holds his mop head high.

So is this My Little Pony.**

Perfume Puff Ponies were so glam rock.

I am a tidy person by nature. I like beds made, I like shirts folded and I hate it when my Frappuccino oozes out from the crack between the cup and the bubble lid, even though the barista probably thinks she was being nice by giving me extra.

But that’s probably why I need a little frizz in my life, whether on my own head or others’. Frizz is like garment gaping or pencil lines showing beneath paint. It reveals a secret, and that secret is someone’s vulnerability—the thing that wasn’t planned.

I remember learning that back in the day, Italian architects built cathedrals with asymmetrical windows or other small “flaws” to let God know that they weren’t trying to imitate his perfection. Which is hugely egotistical if you think about it—I mean, I’m sure that building had a ding or two in it even before they added the funky windows. And I’m sure that Jesus, with his mussed-from-all-that-healing-the-blind curls, knew that nothing is more perfect than a little imperfection.

Not hiding his light under a bushel, but he is almost hiding his clown makeup under a bush of hair.

*I would like to say that this is my last Little House reference, but I can’t make any promises.
**There will probably be more My Little Pony references in future posts too. Their style is just undeniable.

About Cheryl Klein

According to the ads that show up on my Facebook page, I love little vintage dresses and shoes with funky heels (and I should also consider a social work degree and self-publishing). Facebook knows too much, you guys. Other things I like: clearance racks, fingerless gloves, the phrase "a smoky eye," and clothing that reminds me of my early fashion icons--Pippi Longstocking, Punky Brewster and Laura Ingalls.

10 comments

  1. I had tears running down my face as I read this. I have a phobia about hair detaching from the body- any hair- from any creature (god’s or otherwise) and this really let me laugh at myself.

  2. I’m glad the post didn’t trigger some kind of phobic attack.🙂 I went through a phase as a kid where I was totally creeped out by any dolls with hair, so maybe I have a touch of the same condition.

  3. Una Lucey-Lee

    Love, love, love this! It caused me to harken back to my junior high years when I would wrestle my curly/frizzy hair into some kind of straightness. It never worked and only served to make things more frizzy. Silly Úna.

  4. Oh yes, the junior high years. For me they involved a lot of blow-drying and AquaNet. I don’t think my hair recovered until college, when I started abusing it with dye.

  5. annie

    i dunno. i had curly hair and was super militant about being natural for years. i recently got a non-permanent fruit acid version of the blowout, and although i sometimes feel like a big traitor, and miss the instant camaraderie with other curlies i once had, i also like the break from being “the girl with curly hair” and not having strangers come up to me and touch my hair and ask weird, intrusive questions about my heritage or ask if i hate having curls every day. also, i don’t have to do anything to it, so i have more time to do other things that were once wasted on stressing about my hair. is it really that different from getting a tattoo or dying your color? wanting to try on a different persona for a while? or am i totally lying to myself? (i might be totally lying to myself. in fact, i probably am.)

  6. I think the tattoo/dye analogy is a good one in your case, since most people don’t get a tattoo because they hate the natural color of their skin (at least, I hope they don’t). I’m all for mixing it up and keeping it interesting–especially if you don’t have to ingest formaldehyde to do it.

  7. Oh, Cheryl, thank you. I have been rocking some frizz of late. I confess that I do have a bottle of Frizz-Ease (bought on sale for $5), but I haven’t even used it this year. Can’t stand anything that makes my hair feel sticky or the least bit crunchy.

  8. carrieleilamlove

    I have two groupons for formaldehyde-free keratin treatments and have not made the appointments behind this exact issue! I bought them because I felt like I wanted a change, I have worn my hair the same way for most of my life! But with the nappy hair debates you mention, I feel like having straight or less curly hair is going be read as an endorsement for conformity and the racial beauty myth. UGH! I’m going to do it, for fun, for a change, because I feel like it — but I’m curious/scared about what my experiences will be like — I’m already racially ambiguous looking and I bet with straight hair people will be even more confused about me. I just want to do my hair, not make a political decision. FUCK YOU STUPID RACIST SEXIST WORLD.

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