Curl Stigma and Being Jewish

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  • YomYom Posts: 1,146Registered Users Curl Novice
    I, too, have experienced this stigmatising. I'm kind of a redhead with very thick curly hair. I'm biracial: Dutch/African-American. I am not to tall too with a cury figure and have a very pale skin. I have been frequently asked if i'm jewish or not.

    I don't understand why people even care if i was ???!!!!
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  • curlquestcurlquest Posts: 90Registered Users
    I think most jewish people straighten their hair not because of their curls connection with judaism, but because of curls connection with unkempt and ugly. i still get much more support for my curls from other jews and used to be more likely to wear my hair curly to a jewish event. also, more jewish orthodox women are getting curly haired wigs instead of straight!! we should be changing society's image of curls not their image of us
  • MaloryMalory Posts: 379Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    curlquest wrote:
    I think most jewish people straighten their hair not because of their curls connection with judaism, but because of curls connection with unkempt and ugly.

    You are probably right about this. I've known a lot of Jewish people with naturally straight hair; I don't think straightening your hair would make anyone think you weren't Jewish.
  • SalsalitSalsalit Posts: 41Registered Users
    When I was growing up, my mom used to straighten my hair for me because that was the only way for it to look "nice." This was about curly hair not looking good, not about any Jewish stereotypes. My mom grew up in the 1950's and 1960's, when the only "nice" way to wear your hair was straight with a flip or supershort.

    I didn't go curly until I was 16 because I was caught up in the idea that curly hair looked like you'd stuck your finger in a light socket. Funny, but after I went curly, my hair got compliments that it never got when straightened.
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  • Mass1gBewegtMass1gBewegt Posts: 113Registered Users
    One of my best friend's boyfriend's in Jewish and incredibly proud of it, and we're both good friends with his sister. He has lovely wavy hair, and she has the tightest prettiest ringlets. She loves her hair: "rocks the jew-fro".. =P
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  • flfl Posts: 37Registered Users
    i didn't know curls were associated with jewish people. it might explain why i have been taken for jewish sometimes.
  • Riot CrrlRiot Crrl Posts: 3,135Registered Users
    I've had people ask me if I was Jewish before because my first name is from the Old Testament. (It's also a very common name for Christians and the nonreligious, as many OT names are.)

    The way I look is you could pretty much put a picture of me in the dictionary next to "Molly Malone" or something.
  • rachel_borachel_bo Posts: 17Registered Users
    so i get my dark curly hair from the wasp side of the family, and the jewish side of the family has straight hair (my dad's is blonde!). so, oddly enough, i look jewish but those traits come from the christian side.
    i love it when people say i "look jewish." what's not to like about thick curly hair, full lips, thin and curvy bod? i'm happy i got the "ethnic" looking genes.
  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I felt pressure within my family to straighten my hair when I was young, which ironically came from my Jewish father, though I resemble my protestant mother. I think he was conflicted, and passed it on.

    And yet....I also remember a day in my childhood when my mother let my hair curl and he loved it.

    Go figure.
  • jillipoojillipoo Posts: 3,795Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Peacewmn wrote: »
    I hope I don't offend anyone out there who is Jewish (I am Jewish by the way) but my relatives get very upset when I wear my hair natural and curly. It is as if I look more Jewish that way---dark eyes abd curly dark hair. Does this response come from the need to blend into the mainstream---maybe even for safety reasons going back centuries? Has anyone else experienced this???

    I sympathize. My family is Italian and there's a similar thing going on there, too. One side of the family is from one part of Italy where curls and frizz typify the look and the other is from another part of Italy where straight and sleek is the norm. The side of the family with the straight hair never felt as "ethnic" to me as the curly side. They blended better with Anglos, it seemed to me as a child (I don't know whether that was true, but that's the perception I had).

    Fortunately, nobody ever made any outright remarks to me about my hair (it's 3a so not as curly or kinky as it could have been), but at family functions, the Sicilian side (straighties) always looked more glamorous than the other side. And I would often try to straighten mine as much as I could to be like that side of the family.

    Looking back, it seemed that the curly side of the family were not in control of their hair. And that made them seem weaker or something. The Sicilian side wasn't self-conscious and constantly tending to errant strands or stubborn frizz. It seemed to give them freedom and power that the other side didn't have.
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  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Interesting, Jillipoo. The associations we make with hair types begins so early........
  • jillipoojillipoo Posts: 3,795Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    ninja dog wrote: »
    Interesting, Jillipoo. The associations we make with hair types begins so early........

    Totally. And families certainly do their best to reinforce those associations (knowingly or unknowingly)!
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  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Oh man, yeah!

    (Shudder)
  • greengirlgreengirl Posts: 37Registered Users
    Really interesting thread. I'm Jewish on my dads side and my moms side but I'm also visibly black. My moms mother is a holocaust survivor and always tells me the first time ANYONE every considered her "white" was when she came to America. She's a dark eyed curly haired French Jew. When I was little people asked me what I was so much and I never knew what to say (My mom is half French Sephardi Jew and 1/4 French Catholic and 1/4 East African and my Dad is half Ashkenazi Jew and half East African). She would tell me the story of first going to the Caribbean and then to America and about "white people" in America and how they would call her white too, and how confusing that was to hear. Finally at the end of her stories she'd tell me to just tell the other kids I'm Jewish. Of course I did and probably confused them even more since I'm a medium brown colour with dark curly hair! I think it's natural for immigrant groups to want to associate with the dominate group in a population, and want to not assimilate into a group considered to be at the bottom. So it makes sense to me that very visibly curly hair and dark eyes was something that separated many from dominate culture. I see this with a lot of my Jewish friends.

    I have rather dark skin for what people perceive should be the coloring of a mixed person, and even when I wear my hair curly I am often mistaken for Indian (from India). Most people assume I'm Hispanic or Indian or partly here in the states. In Europe 99% of the poeple I meet insist I must be Brasilian (as if they are they only mixed people around!) People tell me straight hair looks more natural for me, and it was even suggested to me by a Rabbis wife no less, that I straighten my hair because it would make me look less black and more Sephardic to increase my chances of finding a nice Jewish boy whose family would mind him marry me! Little did she know I'm looking for a nice Jewish girl!

    Ethnicity is too complicated, moreso in American than anywhere I've lived, I just don't concern myself with it.
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  • LadyHesseLadyHesse Posts: 16Registered Users
    I've actually had many people guess that I am Jewish - I guess the Midwestern stereotype that all Jewish people have big curly hair and a larger nose fits me.
    And I don't really mind if people make that assumption - why would it be negative to be thought of as a different ethnicity than I am? Maybe I AM part Jewish - who knows?! And even if I'm not, I think Jewish (ethnically-wise, not necessarily religion-wise) are beautiful! So this is actually a compliment to my boring European self.
  • curlee4lifecurlee4life Posts: 219Registered Users
    greengirl wrote: »
    Really interesting thread. I'm Jewish on my dads side and my moms side but I'm also visibly black. My moms mother is a holocaust survivor and always tells me the first time ANYONE every considered her "white" was when she came to America. She's a dark eyed curly haired French Jew. When I was little people asked me what I was so much and I never knew what to say (My mom is half French Sephardi Jew and 1/4 French Catholic and 1/4 East African and my Dad is half Ashkenazi Jew and half East African). She would tell me the story of first going to the Caribbean and then to America and about "white people" in America and how they would call her white too, and how confusing that was to hear. Finally at the end of her stories she'd tell me to just tell the other kids I'm Jewish. Of course I did and probably confused them even more since I'm a medium brown colour with dark curly hair! I think it's natural for immigrant groups to want to associate with the dominate group in a population, and want to not assimilate into a group considered to be at the bottom. So it makes sense to me that very visibly curly hair and dark eyes was something that separated many from dominate culture. I see this with a lot of my Jewish friends.

    I have rather dark skin for what people perceive should be the coloring of a mixed person, and even when I wear my hair curly I am often mistaken for Indian (from India). Most people assume I'm Hispanic or Indian or partly here in the states. In Europe 99% of the poeple I meet insist I must be Brasilian (as if they are they only mixed people around!) People tell me straight hair looks more natural for me, and it was even suggested to me by a Rabbis wife no less, that I straighten my hair because it would make me look less black and more Sephardic to increase my chances of finding a nice Jewish boy whose family would mind him marry me! Little did she know I'm looking for a nice Jewish girl!

    Ethnicity is too complicated, moreso in American than anywhere I've lived, I just don't concern myself with it.

    What group are you referring to as being at the bottom?

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  • lala08lala08 Posts: 30Registered Users
    Wow this is a very interesting thread.
  • MagooMagoo Posts: 2,173Registered Users
    I'm hispanic and often get asked if I'm Jewish. I think part of it is when someone thinks of a Jewish person, they're envisioning someone who comes from the Mediterranean, so they picture olive skin, dark hair and eyes, etc. When in reality there are people of the Jewish faith or heritage that come from all over the world.
    Growing up in my family, there was always the distinction between "good" hair (those with straight hair) and "bad" hair (curly, frizzy). There was a lot of pressure to always straighten my hair and make it look like "good" hair. Even when I first started wearing my hair curly my mom would always ask when I was going to start wearing it straight again.
    Even now that I'm an adult and haven't straigthened in years, she will comment if it happens to be a bit frizzy.
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  • Angie2312Angie2312 Posts: 2Registered Users
    I have been asked if I'm Jewish before because of my curly hair. I didn't really understand it at the time because a lot of the Jewish girls I know have straight hair.

    *Italian btw*
  • LikeAustraliaLikeAustralia Posts: 2,812Registered Users
    Very interesting thread, as others have said.

    My family is Jewish, and Lithuanian. I had no idea red hair was a Lithuanian trait! I am not a "religious" person, but I do respect my heritage. Kids in school never believed I was Jewish because growing up, I had straight sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. When I got older, my hair got more into the strawberry blonde and became wavy/curly. No one has ever randomly asked me about my heritage though.

    Interesting that so many of you have been blatantly confronted about your "ethnicity" for no apparent reason...
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  • tarahhhhtarahhhh Posts: 125Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    I'm a quarter Irish, a quarter English, and half Italian. I guess my dark hair and features are probably from my Italian background and the curl is most likely from my Irish background, but I get asked if I'm Jewish ALL THE TIME. Usually after they see my name is Tarah, they just "have to ask". First of all I didn't know Tarah was a Jewish name, second of all does it really matter? I think people should worry less about other's hair and their origins when it really should have no impact on how they get treated anyway. I love my hair curly, it is a bit dark for me though so I'm considering some henna or something for a change, but even if I never change it, I am content with my dark curls. Stereotypes never fail to annoy me. Especially with horses .. Don't get me started on the "All thoroughbreds are high strung" issue.
    Tarah - with an "H" :hello2:
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  • flufflesfluffles Posts: 45Registered Users
    Wow this thread is sooo interesting. Thank you.

    I'm from Scotland and asked a few weeks ago if curly hair was a race issue in the US and i guess it seems that curly hair is somehow related to people's attitudes towards race and ethnicity. It is fascinating to me as it is not the case at all here in Scotland.

    I've never come across this before as i am reddish blonde and curly, short with freckles and blue eyes and could never be mistaken for anything but celtic (scottish or irish) :toothy7:
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  • sillyelliesillyellie Posts: 63Registered Users
    Also, I have seen black men and women with natural red hair.

    Yeah, actually, my stepmom is Jamaican, and her older brother's hair goes really really RED when he gets alot of sun. Apparently that has some stigma attached to it, because it was reminicent of lower class workers, who would end up with bleached red hair from working in the sun (sort of the way tans were viewed in Europe at the turn of the century) and when he was in his teens he dyed it black. According to my stepmom, it looked ridiculous - completely unnatural.

    hehe that sounds like me.

    I get my naturally reddish-brown hair from my white father. I used to hate my hair color & my freckles. I've used cremes to get rid of my freckles and dye my hair darker. Now that i finally want my red hair again its growing in brown and my freckles arent coming back. I think i need some sun. :cry:

    Its sad that im even dying my hair red again. LOL.
  • sillyelliesillyellie Posts: 63Registered Users
    tarahhhh wrote: »
    I'm a quarter Irish, a quarter English, and half Italian. I guess my dark hair and features are probably from my Italian background and the curl is most likely from my Irish background, but I get asked if I'm Jewish ALL THE TIME. Usually after they see my name is Tarah, they just "have to ask". First of all I didn't know Tarah was a Jewish name, second of all does it really matter? I think people should worry less about other's hair and their origins when it really should have no impact on how they get treated anyway. I love my hair curly, it is a bit dark for me though so I'm considering some henna or something for a change, but even if I never change it, I am content with my dark curls. Stereotypes never fail to annoy me. Especially with horses .. Don't get me started on the "All thoroughbreds are high strung" issue.


    hehe, i never heard tarah being a jewish name but it sounds like torah. its pretty though.

    :toothy7:
  • tarahhhhtarahhhh Posts: 125Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    sillyellie wrote: »


    hehe, i never heard tarah being a jewish name but it sounds like torah. its pretty though.

    :toothy7:

    Thanks, me neither, but I really like my name except when I get cards on birthdays and holidays where my name is spelled wrong .. :sad8:
    Tarah - with an "H" :hello2:
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  • sillyelliesillyellie Posts: 63Registered Users
    tarahhhh wrote: »
    sillyellie wrote: »


    hehe, i never heard tarah being a jewish name but it sounds like torah. its pretty though.

    :toothy7:



    Thanks, me neither, but I really like my name except when I get cards on birthdays and holidays where my name is spelled wrong .. :sad8:


    i understand lol.

    try having my name there many ways
    to spell it. ariel, areille, arielle, (aerelle i giggled when i met a girl spelling it like this) && even met a girl spelling it like the font arial.

    :angry7:
  • addaadda Posts: 12Registered Users
    banjocurl wrote: »
    Eilonwy wrote:
    3. It has never occurred to me to "pass." Being Jewish and being a quivering ball of angst are not genetically related, either :D

    maybe not, but there sure is a large correlation--just ask Woody Allen :)

    It's not genetic, it's cultural. If you're jewish, at some point in your life you're going to realize you are from the historically most-persecuted people on the planet. Maybe less culturally-aware jews only remember the holocaust, but others can take a quick summary of the past 2000 years and find that in between writing books and living their lives, the main thing jews did was get killed. By the hundreds, and thousands, and hundreds of thousands.

    And that definitely makes it easier to become a quivering ball of angst if you're not careful.
  • mycolorfulheartmycolorfulheart Posts: 158Registered Users
    I'm not Jewish, but I have several Jewish friends. All of them have gorgeous curly hair and I'm glad they're not afraid to rock it!
  • Eilis19Eilis19 Posts: 44Registered Users
    I have both Jewish and A-A ancestry, but it's so watered down by Scotch/Irish genes you can only tell by what I affectionately call my 'jew 'fro'.
    My mom hated it when I tried to straighten my hair when I was younger and I think it was her way or reprimanding me from trying to deny my heritage somehow. Or because I'm large built w/ a badonkadonk and straight hair makes me look out of proportion.
    My mother in law, on the other hand, is always on me to straighten it and makes all kinds of back handed remarks about my hair. I'm quite sure she does it because she's German born and her grandfather was an SS agent. I also think it's why she really hates me. I introduced 'unpure' blood to her family. Which makes it that much funnier that our son's blond curly hair and blue eyes come from my side of the family.
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  • elissadelissad Posts: 268Registered Users
    I've never understood the fascination with trying to type people into different ethnic categories. Maybe this comes from random strangers (or acquaintances) always blurting out "are you.......?" while trying to pinpoint me. Then they compliment me about my beautiful dark curly hair. It almost feels like a backhanded compliment. I've always found this to be a bit annoying because when I wear my hair straight I never get that question asked.

    I am 1/2 Italian, 1/4 Macedonian, 1/4 Polish. I have fair skin with olive undertones, dark curly hair, and a larger nose. I don't have any Jewish ancestors, but will occasionally be asked if I am one. Most people guess in this order -- Italian, Greek, Hispanic, Egyptian, and then Jewish. Mostly people hit my ancestry right on the nose, but it's still a nuisance when I don't think it's strangers business.
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