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Straight hair is prettier..white people are prettier??

CaliCali Posts: 475Registered Users
Huh.

While this woman, Laura Wexler is promoting curly hair she got me thinking.


A simple statement of fact: In America, straight hair is considered more beautiful than curly hair. Why? The short answer is that straight hair, like light-colored skin and eyes, is a typically Caucasian trait. And in America, Caucasian traits are considered more beautiful than non-Caucasian traits. Since an explanation for this phenomenon would require 100 doctoral dissertations on the interplay of race, power and beauty- or at least a “baby doll” test like the one that helped to end school segregation in the United States- I urge you instead to test the accuracy of this statement in the comfort of your own home.

Page through the magazines on your coffee table and count the models with curly hair. Doesn’t take long, does it? Or watch an episode of “A Makeover Story” on The Learning Channel and observe that one of the first things they do with a curly-headed woman is straighten her hair. Indeed, here in our own (humid) city, the February 2004 issue of a certain crosstown magazine featured a makeover in which a young woman’s “long, curly mop” was blow-dried “smooth” and flat-ironed.

I'm wondering. I know theres a lot of white people here and you all have curly hair. So..straight hair is a typically caucasion trait?? Society thinks white people are the prettiest?? Straight hair is the prettiest??
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Comments

  • SystemSystem Posts: 39,059 Administrator
    Caucasians are not the only race with straight hair. Asian, American Indians...and so on. I don't think straight necessarily equals the ideal of beauty. I think they straighten because it's different or easier to deal with then trying to style/handle curly hair. There's straighties and curlies of every race and creed that are beautiful.

    Speckla
  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users
    When I was in San Francisco last month, it was the unusual women, the mixed race people, who stood out the most for their beauty. There was one particular young woman at Macy's who was black/asian, and she was a knockout! Freckles, curls, dark, sloping eyes --- she left caucasian me feeling plain and bland.

    However, I really think issues of race and hair preferences are regional. More provincial locales tend to promote homogeneity, while urban centers and their sophisticated off-shoots recognize a wider swathe of beauty. So, race doesn't seem to me to be the issue, but location does. In cities, plain old straight-haired white people are nothing special. It's the unique, the rare, the special that gets noticed. That's been my experience.
  • Riot CrrlRiot Crrl Posts: 3,135Registered Users
    I'd like to try to answer this, but I'm not sure really what the question is.

    If the question is whether mainstream media and advertising seeks to iconize a standard of white, straight-haired beauty in order to "other" everyone else, make them feel inadequate, and ultimately open their wallets, then oh yes, I definitely think so. But they also seek to do the same to the white people they are showing images of white people to. In fact that may well be their primary goal, depending on what their market research tells them.

    If the question is whether white people go around thinking they are awesome because they are white and have straight hair, I am sure there are those who do. However this is not my personal experience as a white person.
  • laynesavedthedaylaynesavedtheday Posts: 239Registered Users
    i guess i am kinda ironic then cuz i am very pale, with blonde hair blue eyes...and crazy curly hair! haha i love it though. and i've always always thought that curly hair is prettier (when taken care of)
  • iris427iris427 Posts: 6,002Registered Users
    I'm not really sure what your question is, but I agree that straight hair is generally considered more attractive. And I also agree that it's probably because white people tend to have straighter, smoother hair.
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  • marxmarx Posts: 52Registered Users
    Cali wrote: »
    Page through the magazines on your coffee table and count the models with curly hair. Doesn’t take long, does it?
    -Actually, I don't have a hard time finding curlies on magazines.
    I don't know about America, but I think here in Germany and UK, there are enough curls and even kinks (yes, 4b hair type) on the magazines and catalogues.
    Cali wrote: »
    straight hair is a typically caucasion trait??
    -No. In fact, I think straight hair is more typical of East Asia.
    Cali wrote: »
    Society thinks white people are the prettiest?? Straight hair is the prettiest??
    -The answer to this will vary depending on each society or individual.

    I agree to what ninja dog said:
    ninja dog wrote: »
    I really think issues of race and hair preferences are regional. More provincial locales tend to promote homogeneity, while urban centers and their sophisticated off-shoots recognize a wider swathe of beauty. So, race doesn't seem to me to be the issue, but location does. In cities, plain old straight-haired white people are nothing special. It's the unique, the rare, the special that gets noticed. That's been my experience.
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  • susancnwsusancnw Posts: 1,366Registered Users
    iris427 wrote: »
    And I also agree that it's probably because white people tend to have straighter, smoother hair.

    okay, I'm going to assume that you didn't intend that to sound as ugly and bigoted as it comes across.

    I'm about as white as you can get and not be transparent...however, my background includes British, a larger group of American Indian than I realized, French and a number of other groups - and I can't recall seeing the 'white = straight hair = prettier or more acceptable.

    I've seen a lot of Native American men and women and Asians with very straight hair. I've also thought it was just stunning...it always seems so well cared for and shiny. When I look at a large group of whites, I see all sorts of hair types, straight, curly, wavy and in between...and with black I see curly, straight and in between. I guess the only real consistency that I see is in Asian or American Indian. Seems like all the rest are all over the map, hair wise, that is.
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  • kurlikinkiklassickurlikinkiklassic Posts: 117Registered Users Curl Novice
    Riot Crrl wrote: »
    I'd like to try to answer this, but I'm not sure really what the question is.

    If the question is whether mainstream media and advertising seeks to iconize a standard of white, straight-haired beauty in order to "other" everyone else, make them feel inadequate, and ultimately open their wallets, then oh yes, I definitely think so. But they also seek to do the same to the white people they are showing images of white people to. In fact that may well be their primary goal, depending on what their market research tells them.

    If the question is whether white people go around thinking they are awesome because they are white and have straight hair, I am sure there are those who do. However this is not my personal experience as a white person.


    i appreciate this answer the most. (not saying the others weren't doing this) but i felt that this person was the most aware of where she stands and that others around her may feel differently AND recognized the part that media/marketing plays in all this.

    now my 2 cents, well after doing some "unscientific" research of my own i do think that straight hair is preferred over curly hair by a broader range of people and if your ethnic group or racial group (whatever you want to call it) tends to have that (straight hair) then it's kind of obvious what the implications are.
    to that end, the farther away others are from that standard the less attractive they become. (based on hair texture alone)
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  • wild~hairwild~hair Posts: 9,890Registered Users
    When I think of truly straight hair, I think of Asians. A small percentage of Caucasians actually have pin straight hair. Most of the white "straighties" you see day to day straighten with a blow dryer and/or flat-iron each morning.

    As to why it's considered an ideal, I think it's a major trend, like neckties and high heels. Eventually it will change to something else, but not for a while.
  • MaloryMalory Posts: 379Registered Users
    Think of all the straight and wavy-haired women who permed their hair in the 80s. Hairstyles come and go.
  • hopetocurlhopetocurl Posts: 1,280Registered Users
    I think that the reason that we see so much straight hair in the media because of something that we all know... hairdressers do not know how to deal with curly hair. Seriously, curly hair needs little maintenance with the RIGHT cut, so there is less need for hairdressers. These guys make a lot of money... I was looking at a makeover the other day and this lady had perfectly beautiful curly hair...what did they do during the makeover...layer the heck out of it and flat iron it...because there was stylist doing it.
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  • miralalunamiralaluna Posts: 168Registered Users
    In the UK, where I'm from, girls tend to straighten their hair on a daily basis to make it "normal". Here in Spain, however, girls wear their hair curly and natural. This suggests to me that the cultural notions of beauty are different.
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  • magsmags Posts: 8Registered Users
    I'm new here but I just have to chime in and vent! I briefly caught an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker a few weeks ago where the "matchmaker" was advising all of her "applicants"(women looking to be hooked up with rich pathetic egotistical men) on how to make these men interested in them...there were a few with curly hair and she instructed them to get their hair straightened and to not even come back with curly hair...in her words" these men want silky smooth hair they can run their hands through, not a bushy tangly mess like what you've got going on on your heads"

    I switched the channel and won't watch again but I have to admit that I started searching on thermal reconditioning again and seriously entertained the thought of investing in a higher quality flattening iron....

    If i can be swayed this much by the media, so can everyone else and it just P's me off!:thumbdown:
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  • curlybrunette5curlybrunette5 Posts: 264Registered Users
    I agree with wild~hair: a small percentage of white people actually have truly straight hair. Many (like my mother-in-law-to-be) have curls but don't even realize it! (She claims she just has "frizzy" hair...I would too if I brushed mine constantly) Most people in general have at least some wave. I don't consider straight hair to be a "white" thing. I am a caucasian curly...also the only curly in my family. My mother has truly pin straight hair and has spent her whole life wanting curls or at the very least some wave. So, I think it's a grass is always greener kind of thing. As far as men go, my straight haired fiance actually prefers my curls over when I straighten. So I think it's just a matter of personal preference...like some people find different eye colors especially attractive.

    While I do agree mainstream media (especially makeover shows) does tend push the straightened look, I think in the past couple years, we're seeing a lot more natural looks.
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  • saltavengersaltavenger Posts: 6Registered Users
    mags wrote: »
    I'm new here but I just have to chime in and vent! I briefly caught an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker a few weeks ago where the "matchmaker" was advising all of her "applicants"(women looking to be hooked up with rich pathetic egotistical men) on how to make these men interested in them...there were a few with curly hair and she instructed them to get their hair straightened and to not even come back with curly hair...in her words" these men want silky smooth hair they can run their hands through, not a bushy tangly mess like what you've got going on on your heads"

    I switched the channel and won't watch again but I have to admit that I started searching on thermal reconditioning again and seriously entertained the thought of investing in a higher quality flattening iron....

    If i can be swayed this much by the media, so can everyone else and it just P's me off!:thumbdown:

    god, i saw that episode too! it pissed me off, and i haven't watched it since. Especially when she said it to the black woman sporting a nice, well taken care of fro who was totally hot. She might have well said "rich white guys don't like black chicks if they actually look black."

    The media just wants to do what sells. If Jennifer Anniston has an angled cut that is considered hot, they'll push that look. If perms are in, that's what you'll see.

    Making assumptions about beauty and race are tricky. Straight hair isn't a "white thing" and many white girls wish they were more "exotic" looking or consider themselves bland. But I find, in a way that is only fetishizing spanish and black people. It is rare to find someone of color in the mainstream media when they aren't in a "dangerous" or "sexy" role. On the other end of the spectrum i think a lot of people make assumptions about white people and their origins. There is some privilege in being white in America, but if someone "looks white" a persons actual background is oftentimes totally ignored (ie their family may consist entirely of immigrants as well, they may have struggled equally). People are often shocked to find out I'm 1/4 mexican because I just "look so white." People assume a lot on both sides.
  • GoddessCurlsGoddessCurls Posts: 1,537Registered Users
    I know I have read of slight racial overtones in the apparent bias against curly hair. I actually just got in a discussion with a few of my black coworkers today about this. I am biracial with long curly hair and they all have typical AA hair. Most of them relax theirs to oblivion or wear weaves. I am convinced that there are racial reasons behind this somewhere or at least their were originally. Even other races do things to get "Americanized" and lose their ethnic differences. It's not really to look more American though, at least I don't think so. Asians get a second eyelid graphed with plastic surgery , black people get their noses and lips made thinner. I get that I have "Good Hair" all the time and I always wonder if they mean "good" because it is "more Caucasian" than AA hair? I got told by a few friends as a kid that I was pretty because I was lighter than a paper bag and other crap like that. So I understand what you mean, it's not that "whiter" is the worlds idea of more beautiful, but it seems that it may be in America. How long did it take us to get a black miss America.

    I hope I didn't offend anyone, the topic just always got me riled up. I have mostly white family and one cousin in particular used to also get really angry at the medias bias of beauty.
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  • cymprenicympreni Posts: 9,609Registered Users
    ninja dog wrote: »

    However, I really think issues of race and hair preferences are regional. More provincial locales tend to promote homogeneity, while urban centers and their sophisticated off-shoots recognize a wider swathe of beauty. So, race doesn't seem to me to be the issue, but location does. In cities, plain old straight-haired white people are nothing special. It's the unique, the rare, the special that gets noticed. That's been my experience.

    I agree with this.

    I live in a small rural, very racist, very closed minded town with very few curlies. I have NEVER felt pressured to straighten. I have only been asked if I straighten only once in my entire 30 year lifespan, to which I said no, and their response, good don't ever do it.

    I was the kid in school that everyone loved to pick on for every little thing. They would look for stuff to to say to me to the point they even obsessed about my socks for a while. But NEVER EVER has anyone made fun of my hair. I have never received nothing but compliments and admiration when it came to my hair. The closest I ever got to curl bashing, was kids would I was too ugly to have such beautiful curls and how they were wasted on me.

    Even my biracial adopted sister got nothing but compliments. She had very typical AA hair, and even used to perm it so she could have even kinkier curls. And she was regularly voted as having the best hair. She got a straight perm once, and everyone begged to to go back to curly

    My only complaint about others comments about my hair was I wish they'd come up with a new speech then "omg its natural! You know women spend thousands of dollars every year for curls like yours. You are so lucky!'

    I do agree there is media pressure to straighten. But I think it's just to get us to spend more money. But I'm not sure how much society buys into it. After all, I at least, don't know anyone personally that regularly dresses like the models and actresses in magazines, movies and tv.
  • CandycaneCandycane Posts: 291Registered Users
    wow- i am lovin the hair it is soooo beautiful- nice n thick
  • mariag002mariag002 Posts: 3,557Registered Users
    I know that straight hair has been in style for a while now. I also remember when curls were in style back in the 80's. I know how the media is and they have their own sense of beauty. At the same time, we women of color have to embrace our own beauty and get rid of the relaxers and weaves we subject ourselves to. We can't expect the media to embrace us when we don't do it ourselves (just playing the devil's advocate).

    What I don't understand is the number of curly/kinky/nappy models I see in fashion magazines but most women of color with kinky hair still put relaxers in their hair to make it straight. The women I see in commercials and magazines don't resemble the women of color I see in black hair magazines.
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  • BoomygrrlBoomygrrl Posts: 4,940Registered Users
    I do mostly see it as a trend, as the 80's it was cool to have curly hair.
    However, I do think curly hair is seen as exotic and out of the usual...some people like that and some people don't like that.
    With that said, black people, as portrayed by the media, are also seen as exotic and out of the usual. Whether for good or bad, they are still seen as "the other."
    It might be a correlation, rather than a cause-and-effect. In other words, media portrays trends and what is "usual" or "normal" (that definition changes of course); therefore, curly white gals and black gals (both curly and straight) might be seen as "exotic" or "the other."
    People who deal with fashions, trends, and what's "in," are going to be snobby towards those of us that don't fit into their mold.


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  • BoomygrrlBoomygrrl Posts: 4,940Registered Users
    to add:
    Isn't the root of -isms the fear of the other?
    So, I think it's more of an overall -ism than specifically racism...if that makes sense.
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  • Curlyperm12Curlyperm12 Posts: 66Registered Users
    "A simple statement of fact: In America, straight hair is considered more beautiful than curly hair. Why? The short answer is that straight hair, like light-colored skin and eyes, is a typically Caucasian trait. And in America, Caucasian traits are considered more beautiful than non-Caucasian traits. Since an explanation for this phenomenon would require 100 doctoral dissertations on the interplay of race, power and beauty- or at least a “baby doll” test like the one that helped to end school segregation in the United States- I urge you instead to test the accuracy of this statement in the comfort of your own home."

    I have to say that I both agree and disagree with you Cali. First of all, I wouldn't go so far as saying that straight hair is considered more beautiful then curly hair in America today. I would put them on equal footing in many ways. Think about this; there are tens of millions of straight haired women in America today who spend plenty of money getting their permed each year. Texturing services at salons are easily a billion dollar plus industry in America today. All those straight haired women getting their hair permed shows me that curly hair is still pretty popular among many women in America today. On the other hand, I will say that in the fashion industry and the media in general, you don't see too many curly haired models. That fact makes me pretty angry in a way being a girl with real wavy hair naturally. My beautiful daughter has pretty wavy/curly blonde hair, and if she ever decided to be model when she gets older, I would be very upset if she was rejected because of her hair being curly. I live in Kentucky where the South meets the Midwest, and I would say that perms are pretty popular around here right now. It's pretty easy most of the time in spotting the difference between a perm and naturally curly hair. After walking around the malls here in Louisville the past few months, I would say perms are pretty popular again. By the way, I have very wavy hair naturally that I perm to make it curlier, and to give my hair a lot more definition. So even though I perm my hair, I would still consider myself a curly girl naturally.
  • BBBB Posts: 475Registered Users
    Something to think about -
    In the Curly Hair book, Joy Behar says something about curly hair being more difficult to shoot on TV because of the way the light bounces off it. I'm wondering if that doesn't have something to do with the fact there are more straight-haired people on TV and in magazines.
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  • keikokkeikok Banned Posts: 585Banned Users
    A woman at my church once told me that I should "adopt a more Christian hairstyle" (ie she wanted me to striaghten my hair)
    I thought that was a really weird way of telling me to straighten my hair but it really got me thinking.
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  • Riot CrrlRiot Crrl Posts: 3,135Registered Users
    A woman at my church once told me that I should "adopt a more Christian hairstyle" (ie she wanted me to striaghten my hair)

    LOL. OK, there are many European paintings of Jesus. Which I am sure are pretty far from what he actually looked like. But even most Western art has him at at least a 2b!
  • SoaringSirenSoaringSiren Posts: 765Registered Users
    wild~hair wrote: »
    When I think of truly straight hair, I think of Asians. A small percentage of Caucasians actually have pin straight hair. Most of the white "straighties" you see day to day straighten with a blow dryer and/or flat-iron each morning.

    As to why it's considered an ideal, I think it's a major trend, like neckties and high heels. Eventually it will change to something else, but not for a while.

    I think a big factor in determining what is pretty is your location. I feel it's interesting that Asians keep being mentioned, because I'm half-Asian myself with curly hair and fairly light skin. I've gone to the Philippines multiple times and experienced the complete opposite trend-wise. They LOVE white skin, and curly hair, since that is what they do not have themselves.

    What's interesting about America though, is that we're such a 'melting pot' of ethnicities, the styles that are 'in' change every year, where in other countries, it's may not change as often, at least it hasn't from my experience in the Philippines.
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  • curlylauracurlylaura Posts: 8,352Registered Users
    keikok wrote: »
    A woman at my church once told me that I should "adopt a more Christian hairstyle" (ie she wanted me to striaghten my hair)
    I thought that was a really weird way of telling me to straighten my hair but it really got me thinking.

    Why is straight hair a more 'christian' hairstyle?
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  • Melanie_LinnMelanie_Linn Posts: 457Registered Users
    I can personally say that it might not be that white people are prettier per say, but that straight hair is seen in the media as the in thing, from what i gathered. And most teens, and young adults want to be "in". Me i personally don't care at all, and have a tendancy to let my hair be wild and crazy when it feels like it. One girl asked me in stagecraft a few months ago wether i had ever had my hair permed straight. I have and i told her so to her face, i also got snarky and said i was going for a suesey sue & the banshee's look. Right now my hair is short and permed but im growing it out so that i can get my healthy crazy kinky hair back.

    My mom is mixed European,Native american,asian, and middle eastern. And my dad is African american, and native american. I find my kinky hair to be beautiful, if a little annoying at times. Some people in my family say its thick and nappy, but i cant say i really agree. thick yes, but then again my grandma on my moms side had thick wavy hair until the day she died, so my hair is naturally quit thick. I'm firmlyconvinced its genetic!

    The whole straight hair craze might just be about wanting more "managable" hair. I'm not completely sure but thats were my thoughts have lead me.
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  • keikokkeikok Banned Posts: 585Banned Users
    Riot Crrl wrote: »
    A woman at my church once told me that I should "adopt a more Christian hairstyle" (ie she wanted me to striaghten my hair)
    LOL. OK, there are many European paintings of Jesus. Which I am sure are pretty far from what he actually looked like. But even most Western art has him at at least a 2b!

    Yeah Jesus usually has a nice pattern going on, which was why I was so confused when she said that. All I can think of is that she meant that it was "too wild" hence "not Christian"
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  • Curlyperm12Curlyperm12 Posts: 66Registered Users
    keikok wrote: »
    A woman at my church once told me that I should "adopt a more Christian hairstyle" (ie she wanted me to striaghten my hair)
    I thought that was a really weird way of telling me to straighten my hair but it really got me thinking.

    Having very wavy hair naturally, I've heard rude comments from more then a few people who suggested that I straighten my hair; but that is just about the rudest comment I've ever heard about someone's hair!
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