The price of beauty

Husband watches Good Morning America in the mornings, before going upstairs to his office for the day. I never watched it before living with him, but if it’s on and I’m around in the morning, I’ll watch some clips with him.

This morning, there was a clip on about a Brazilian Blowout (I think I have vaguely known of the term before, but wasn’t really sure what it was. I think maybe I thought it had to do with waxing? Nope, hair straightening, evidently). There’s been concern about the chemicals involved. They showed clips of a salon where the hairdresser and the client wear gas masks. The treatments are done in separate rooms with special air ventilation. There have been complaints of a burning sensation, eyes burning, problems with breathing. There’s been some tests done as well, and Good Morning America indicated that test results have shown formaldehyde is found in the ingredients.

This all made me sad, and more than a little puzzled.

I am the first to admit that I am extremely LOW maintenance. I don’t do anything with my hair that takes longer than three minutes, from the time I start towel drying to the time I am done. I couldn’t style it if you paid me. It’s either down and natural, back in a headband, back in a clip, or if I’m exercising, in a ponytail. When my hair gets too long to be evenly curly and the length/weight pull the curls out, and I wear it all the time in a ponytail, then I usually cut it all off to super pixie short, and maybe run some gel through it.

I have naturally red, curly hair. If I don’t do anything other than lightly dry it when I get out of the shower, it starts to curl within minutes. If I scrunch it with my fingers a bit, it will curl more. (For the record, this has always frustrated my mother who has very straight hair and has to spend a lot of time on her hair to get it to do what she wants).

I’ve always loved my hair (even when random strangers use to start singing Annie songs at me, or people would come up to me and start pulling on my curls). Not in a vain way, but in the sense that I LOVE being a redhead because it isn’t as common. It stands out. And I love that my hair makes me different. The curls are a nice bonus, because they can be fun. I’ve never had any desire to have straight hair, but I’ve never had any desire to spend time on my hair ever. If it looks good, cool, if it doesn’t, like on days when it is a giant fluffy monster attempting to take over the world…oh well.

I don’t see anything wrong with cutting/coloring/straightening/curling hair – hair is as much a way of expressing yourself as your clothes or your accessories or your tattoos. This isn’t about that.

But if you are putting things on your head that require special ventilation to apply, if you need to wear a gas mask because of the fumes, don’t you think that maybe all those chemicals that are now sitting on your scalp are bad for you? That maybe it’s too high a price to pay for beauty?

All this to have straight hair. Because….having your natural hair is so bad you would rather expose yourself to dangerous chemicals? Because curls and frizz aren’t deemed “pretty” by fashion magazines?

People are willing to pay very high prices to be more beautiful…but when is it too high? Can’t you see that you are beautiful as you are, no matter what magazines and tv and movies say? That how your hair is naturally can be beautiful, especially if you think it is?

Body image and self image are big issues. Really big. I get that. I struggle with it a lot in lots of ways. But that clip just made me so sad…that people would rather risk really toxic chemicals just to have straight, glossy hair, because the way they are isn’t “good enough.”

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2 responses to “The price of beauty

  1. so weird and sad really … i have super straight hair and its even glossy on occasion but i always thought it would be so wonderful to have corkscrew curly hair so much that when i was young, i permed the crap out of it. so great that you always embraced your hair!! i do too but am sad that i didn’t when i was a teenager. its all beautiful just the way it is i think. xoxo

  2. I just watched Chris Rock’s documentary called “Good Hair.” He covers the same topic: the toxicity of hair straitening products and the billions of dollars being spent to toxify one’s scalp.

    Bottled shampoos and conditioners aren’t any better. The number one ingredient in both is petroleum. I stopped using shampoo and conditioner a couple years ago. I now use household items to wash and condition my straight hair.

    Incidentally, your hair is what I’ve always wanted. To get it I’d have to color and curl my hair and that’s far too expensive in dollars and in health, not to mention time. Like yourself I keep my hair pretty low maintenance.

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