According to Daily Mail UK, we ladies spend the equivalent of 2.5 years primping our hair. Just our hair. That’s roughly 913 days, or 21,900 hours, of shampooing, drying, curling, spraying, all in the name of hair. It makes the expression ‘a good hair day’ all the more poignant. Conversely, if our hair falls flat so does our confidence. Like a psychic reading we will into existence, a ‘bad hair day’ can spell disaster for hours.
In calculating this daunting amount of time, an important question arises:
If we were to embrace our natural hair and spend less time and money worrying about it, would we be better off?
You might have noticed the hair product marketing ploy of problem-solution. The idea is that there is something wrong with you, but that you now have the ability (responsibility?) to fix it. For curly hair, there are friz fighting serums. For straight hair there are volumizing mousses. And this myth doesn’t just hold true for beauty: for sadness there are self-help books. For weight, there are personal trainers, diets, surgeries. For every condition, natural or otherwise, there is a possible problem, and for every problem, there is a possible solution. Sure, there are product advertisements that claim to ‘enhance our natural curl’ and more promises of improving our hair’s natural state. But does our hair really need improving?
I personally endure a mixed bag of textures every morning. My hair is straight on top, wavy through the middle, and converts into thick spiral curls down near my neck. After years of straightening layer by layer (and cursing rain as a personal insult from nature), I finally began to embrace the curly side, forcing the straight hair on top to follow suit. Like many women, I find the act of styling my hair to be incredibly satisfying and a wonderful creative outlet. Unlike many women however, having lost all my hair to chemo as a teen, I don’t take having a ‘good hair day’ quite so seriously. After all, having a hair sometimes still feels like a surprise.
Through a wider lens, we see that not only do women spend a lot of time coiffing and styling, we spend a lot of time talking and thinking about our hair too. Magazines are dedicated to it, entire websites are devoted to it. In fact, it can go so far as to be an expression of your sexuality, your femininity, and your romantic worth.
In a scathing and incredible article on the politics of having short hair, Laurie Penny tackles the idea that women with short cuts are somehow less attractive to men because they are less feminine:
“I’ve had short hair for most of my adult life…Every time I cut it off, I noticed immediately that the amount of street harassment I received, from cat-calls to whispered sexual slurs to gropes and grabs on public transport, dropped to a fraction of what it had been – apart from total strangers coming up to tell me how much prettier I’d be if I only grew it out.
People have done this when I’ve been quietly working on my laptop in cafes, because I really need to be interrupted in the middle of a deadline to be told I need to work harder on my girl game.”
She also admits that after trying longer hair styles at the beckoning of her boyfriends, she not only didn’t feel like herself, she didn’t like the way she looked either. It boils down this: When the inclination to have a hairstyle because it’s sexy or popular is no longer counterbalanced by a desire to have the hairstyle that we would derive the most joy from, we do ourselves and our sense of individuality a grave disservice. After all, individuality is not derived from being purposefully different; it is birthed only from a complete willingness to be yourself, curly/frizzy/flat/wild hair and all.
On that token, it would be unfair to offer up the solution of au natural hair to every woman, which had been my original intent. In research for this article, I watched commercial after commercial, read article after article, and finally asked the public as well as personal friends for photos of their hair, and a quote as to why they loved their unique hair. In poured beautiful shots of hair in all colors, lengths, and styles, and the statements to accompany them were even better. Truly, for every woman there is a natural hair type, and also an opportunity to find beauty and grace in the mirror every morning.
What began as an attempt to argue in favor of embracing one’s natural condition ended in the realization that there truly is one golden rule in the game of hair: that only you can know what’s right for you. No commercial, no article, no hair dresser and certainly no boyfriend is going to be able to tell you how you look best. That, like with all of life’s great truths, the answer is already inside you.
While you may compromise your natural hair by way of serums and styling, the one thing you should never compromise is your knowledge to know what’s right for you, and the knowledge that you deserve to feel beautiful. Because being unapologetically yourself will always have you looking and feeling great.
Click any photo to see why these beautiful women love their unique hair: