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Do straights have more fun? A curly-haired writer experiments

Last week, for the first time, I went straight.

But let's rewind a bit.

A while back, when I totally should have been doing, like, real work, I wound up chatting with some colleagues about hair, of all things.

One of my colleagues, columnist Ernest Hooper, wrote recently that he has a curly-headed friend who's now adamant about straightening her hair. Her reasoning? She read in Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth that slick, smooth locks elicit more attention from men.

Another co-worker said that she turns more heads with a straight mane rather than her natural waves. Curls, according to her, are seen as "cute," whereas straight strands are perceived as "hot," and "sexy."

Hooper also said that a reader e-mailed him to say that she had to testify in a lawsuit, and lawyers told her to straighten her hair so the jury would see her as "more credible." This same woman was given the same grooming advice when it came to her job search, too.

I have curly hair, and my dark ringlets have been called many names. Un-combed. Un-kempt. Mop top. Like pubic hair.

I'm a bit of a skeptic, so I decided to put these theories of follicular attractiveness to the test.

I straightened my hair for a week to see whether I would be treated differently.

I dressed as I normally do. I followed my routine quotidian. This way, I figured, any drastic changes in treatment wouldn't be outright attributed to something else, like a sudden penchant for cleavage-baring V-necks — unlikely at any rate — or an unprecedented avoidance of my favorite dives.

I had to ask my friend James, who is a professional hairdresser, to straighten my hair the day the experiment began and once more midweek. Because my hair was cut for curls, James actually had to thin out my bangs, but the length and shape of the haircut remained unchanged. Four hair products and a half-hour of blow-drying and flat-ironing later (compared to two products and five optional minutes with a hairdryer for curls), my nappy bob was straight. Tres mod, really.

What, then, became of me as a hair daywalker of sorts?

Nothing, really.

A few co-workers said that I looked like I was wearing a wig. The friends who'd been chiding me to straighten my hair for awhile said it looked "sexy," and "very nice" but the objectivity of their opinions might be questionable, considering they were pro-straight in the first place.

Some co-workers said I looked more professional, even "managerial." People at my favorite coffee shop called the new 'do "interesting." My friend's quasi-boyfriend said it looked more "mysterious, like a sexy Lois Lane."

And yeah, I got a whistle at a pizzeria in Ybor, and was asked what I was drinking by a creeper at a bar, but that's kind of par for the Ybor course for anyone.

So it's unclear whether it was the hair or the scene.

Long story short: Going straight wasn't the watershed makeover that I'd been promised.

Maybe I would have had more luck testing whether blonds have more fun.

Do straights have more fun? A curly-haired writer experiments 08/27/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 27, 2009 2:55pm]
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