Friday, January 7, 2011

Fuzzies of the world unite and takeover!

Forget antagonising gingers, at least there’s some sympathy for their plight, but there is a discrimination lurking in the western world that is rarely discussed and even less debated. It’s a form of oppression so pervasive and omniscient that those who are affected by it suffer a comprehensive form of Stockholm Syndrome. So subtle and ingrained in our society that there is no public outcry about the sale of GHDs (Good Hair Days) hair straighteners – even the name is offensive to those of us with fuzzy follicles. But make no bones about it; curly hair is a crippling condition that can make it difficult to meet a partner, limit your career opportunities/job choices, and leave you open to public ridicule.

The biological difference between curly-headed people and straighties comes down to the simple fact that one group is better looking than the other. Hollywood holds a mirror to this real life beauty division. In any Cinderella story the frizzy ugly duckling is instantly transformed into a smooth glamorous swan by a few strokes of the straightener. Think Pretty Woman (in this case, she goes from a naturally fuzzy prostitute wearing a straight wig - because let’s face it, who’s going to pay for sex with a frizz-ball - to straightie for the bona fide date; Princess Diaries; Breakfast Club; Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.  You don’t even need to go to the movies - shampoo commercials contain exactly the same stereotypes – fuzzy-ugly/ sleek-beautiful. Quite rightly young curly girls are taught that their hair is the ‘before’ waiting for a makeover. Is it any wonder that curly-headed people can’t find partners? They are self-conscious, paranoid that getting hot and steamy might cause a halo of fuzz around their face and only able to get naked in the dark lest their straight-charade be undone by their short and extra-curlies. I haven’t made this up. Research into online websites found that men with curly hair receive about 22% fewer first contact emails than men who describe themselves as having “medium straight hair”. But where is the public outcry? Where are the support groups with war cries like “real women have fuzzies”?  

Having coiled hair makes it difficult to get certain types of jobs. This is primarily due to what is known in certain circles as the Helena Bonham-Carter effect. Fuzzy-heads are wrongly assumed to be a little left of centre, a little zany - and quite without any basis – disorganised and untidy. The HBC effect directly translates to employers believing you are too wacky to perform a role.  Here are just some of the jobs curlies cannot get; newsreader (hair obscures graphics behind them), air hostess, actress (except as ugly duckling or madcap friend), fighter pilot (or any profession that requires a heavy duty helmet for that matter) and opal salesperson (I was almost sacked once for looking too untidy). Even if you manage to get a foot in the door, the HBC effect can also stop you from progressing in your career. While being ugly might help you appear smarter than a straightie, managers will be too afraid to give you too much responsibility in case you decide to convert the office into a sexually transmitted disease clinic or a tassel factory. I can’t say I blame them. The other day I saw a curly-headed woman engaged in the theatre of road rage and I was frightened. Her voluminous hair bounced like a blonde octopus off her head and she did indeed look insane in a way that no straighie could even begin to counter.

Being fuzzy can also lead to embarrassing public situations like being harassed by a fully made-up Ronald McDonald in Swanston St. We are prime targets for humiliation and bullying because a) clearly we don’t have partners to jump up and defend us; and b) even if we did complain, no one would believe us.

While these points may seem harsh they are facts and they must be buried no more. Especially considering climate change, the challenge for curlies is even greater. It’s not going to be pretty but in order for future generations not to be ashamed of their unruly locks, the hard yards must be done now. Celebrities like Nicole Kidman must BMX Bandit–it up, TV stations must create larger graphics behind newsreaders and the general public must be encouraged to slip on protective eyewear and hug a fuzzy. But first curlies have to throw away their hair straighteners and try saying positive things to each other – because unless we can love ourselves, what chance do we have of being loved by others. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for exposing this pervasive form of discrimination. After years of inexpertly flattening the fuzz with headbands, severe brushing, Cambodian hair straighteners and the like, one year ago my wonderfully supportive hairdresser advised me to 'Embrace the mess', since which I have been defiantly curly. I have not been promoted in all that time, nor do I have a partner. Coincidence? I think not...
    (I still don't see what was wrong with my plan for setting up a small tassel-making workshop for STI-affected orphan refugees in the work first aid room, btw)