Today as I was Sunday tweeting I met a wonderful lady called Stefanie Gunning who lives online, here. Stefanie writes well about many subjects, but what I love about her most is that she too has uncontrollable hair. Her hair has curl. Which means that, like me, she is a tramp. Stefanie won’t mind this as it’s all good but I’m aware it requires some explanation. So for all those not fortunate enough to be born with untamed hair, here it is.
As long as I can remember, my curly hair has invited comment. Not always good comment: in fact for the first sixteen years of my life much of it was nasty stuff – namecalling, outsider status at primary school and to a large extent at secondary school (White Australia had a lot to offer us migrant kids) and cries of ‘Burn her, she’s a witch’. Ok that last bit is embellishment but the rest is true. It was no fun. I spent my childhood trying to cut off my curls with my mother’s dressmaking scissors and wondering why, as I got older, all the bland blondes had boyfriends. I needn’t have worried. It seems that perceptions change and what may have been alien and even unappealing at one age, is exotic and sexy at another. And so it was that in my late teens, I began to attract male attention in a huge way. And Stefanie will understand this totally because, like me, she has hair that makes men think of the bedroom. At the same time, women began to envy me. “I wish I had hair like you.” They also wanted my figure and my clear skin but let’s stick with the hair for now. So here I am having desirability literally thrust upon me at 16, just when I was wondering if I was going to be the Janis Ian song in 12 months time.
Curly hair. It speaks on your behalf, obscuring everything else about you. All they see is your hair. And what they’re seeing is this: Curly hair=wild=carefree=uninhibited=fun=tramp. Stefanie reckons it’s curly hair straight to =tramp. But I think the thought process is worth revealing. Because there are women who think it too. How else to account for unreasonable hostility from women I barely know. Women who take one look at me and immediately purse their lips and give me visual disapproval. “How dare this girl with wild hair come into our space and threaten to destroy all we know about attraction. Everyone knows that unless it’s blonde and stick straight your hair and ergo you cannot be sexy. That’s what we learned in magazines. Damn curly haired tart. Here she is tempting our men with her uncombed hair and wild ways.” And all I’ve done is stand there and say “Hi, lovely to meet you.”
Curly haired women are a threat to the natural order of things. Hairdressers will tell you that curly hair is hair that grew incorrectly. It’s not really legitimate hair. If straight hair is the wife, curly hair is the inevitable mistress. Never mind that curly hair is infinitely practical: it doesn’t need much maintenance, looks good both on beaches and in hurricanes and is perfect for the bedroom and getting out the door afterwards in ten minutes flat. It has greater wife credentials than straight hair with it’s need for GHD straighteners, potions, mousse and blow dries and agonising decision making. But curly hair will always be that of the mistress. It is the fun one, the unpredictable one, the one who smiles dangerously and says “Ok then.” You do end up acting like your hair. Or your hair reflects you. Either way: tramp.