“Good Hair” (from a Caucasian who doesn’t have it)


It is not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s hair. ~Maya Angelou

The whole made-for-Hollywood story of Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas has taught me two things: apparently the Olympics are a beauty contest as well as a contest of athletic skill now, and that the whole Good Hair/Bad Hair debate never really went away. Instead of focusing on Douglas’ amazing accomplishments in the world of gymnastics, the media has erupted in a firestorm over her hairstyle. (If she were Caucasian or Asian, I doubt a standard gymnast’s ponytail would have caused such a ruckus.)

Even though I’m not African-American and can’t pretend to understand what African-Americans must think about hair, I most assuredly do not have Good Hair despite being Caucasian. It is very dark (strike one), thick and coarse (strike two), and defies any hair taming tool known to man (yerrrrrr out!) It’s so bad I’ve considered chopping it all off and going with one of those charming wigs sold on QVC. In short it is, by “conventional” beauty standards, not pretty at all.

As I’ve gotten older, I understand better the ploys of Madison Avenue and Hollywood to make girls feel bad about themselves and their hair. Want Good Hair? There’s a cream, a dye, a ridiculously expensive treatment to get it. I’ve heard the controversy among my African-American friends about the use of relaxers on hair. The fact is, women of other ethnicities use them as well. There’s also alternative methods of hair torture: my mom tried curlers, straighteners, hair nets, industrial-sized banana clips, and reams of bobby pins before realizing that I never would have Good Hair. My best option was a short pixie cut counterbalanced by a sharp wit and good tastes in fashion.

I’ve read enough ridiculous beauty articles to know by now that Good Hair is as elusive as the Holy Grail. Even if women are lucky enough to have long, lustrous, shiny hair, there are products designed to make it more so, not to mention the booming business in extensions. With few exceptions such as Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, women shown in media are nearly uniformly Caucasian, with long, silky, salon-perfect hair. No natural or ethnic hair (or, God forbid, coarse hair) allowed. Even Disney gets in on the act, spreading the word early to young girls, with its so-called “ethnic” princesses Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana sporting the smooth-tressed look. If Disney’s Brave broke ground in no other way, it provided a Princess for the unruly-haired women of the world.

Maybe it’s a quixotic quest, but I’d call for girls and women to love their hair as it is. Whether or not one believes in God, their hair was made that way for a reason. It’s beautiful and it doesn’t need harsh chemicals or false additions to look great. Good Hair is healthy hair, period, no matter its color or texture or length. (Consider for a moment how many people have no hair at all!)

As for Gabby Douglas, she’s an American star no matter how she chooses to wear her hair. I’m guessing she’s going for a practical style…most female Olympians, regardless of race, seem to wear their hair pulled back. Leave her alone and allow her to enjoy her triumphs.

What do you think about the Douglas controversy? Have any good hair/bad hair stories to tell?

Don’t forget to vote in the Fictional Character Hunger Games contest! The cannon will fire at noon tomorrow and another matchup will begin; who will be left standing?

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on August 7, 2012.

18 Responses to ““Good Hair” (from a Caucasian who doesn’t have it)”

  1. “My best option was a short pixie cut counterbalanced by a sharp wit and good tastes in fashion.”
    I love you, Heather. And your hair.

  2. Good news! I’m going to increase the number of hits you may get on this post. I’ll do it a simple way, which is this: Every time someone gives me grief or looks at me funny for not watching the Olympics, i’ll refer them to your article.

    Which country won the gold? Which athlete from that country? Who got the silver and the bronze? Was it close or a blow-out? Those are all valid questions, pertaining to the Olympic games – interchageable for winter or summer!

    How was their hair? Were the parents of the athlete in the process of losing their home? Did they celebrate too much? Did the beach volleyball women play in bikinis or did they wear sweats? These are all idiotic questions, designed to lure people into tuning in, or caring, or to fill time between heats of whatever. I know all about these questions, despite watching almost none of the 258 hours of Olympic coverage.

    Life’s too short for me to watch one more up close and personal piece about one more athlete. Let me ruin the surprise for everyone – ALL athletes have to overcome difficult odds and work very very hard to make it to the Olympics.

    Oh shit, now the announcers have nothing to talk about for 17 minutes!…Cut to commercial…Oh no!…Not the chimp!!

    • Haha…I’m laughing so hard at this! Yes, the Olympics can be definite overkill after a while, can’t they? In all honesty I’m glad they’re almost over. I also noticed the men’s beach volleyball team wasn’t wearing Speedos, and I feel so cheated.

  3. Agree with you. Great post. I wrote about hair a few times. This post is relevant: http://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/letter-to-michelle-obama-let-your-hair-go/

  4. I’ll put it this way; if those who are criticizing the kid for her hair can do what she does then they can talk all they want.

    As for the Olympics I just don’t give a shit. Each year the dumbshit surrounding it gets blown up more than the athletes who are competing in it.

  5. Great post! I have ridiculously curly and have just learned to love it within the last year or so by letting it do what it wants. I wish more people would quit comparing their locks to others!

    And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but all our female gymnasts are sporting the same style.

  6. Oh my life I am so glad I live here where we evidently get much better commentary! It’s a shame you can’t access the BBC internet coverage from other countries. I was totally unaware of any ‘controversy’ over her hair, and I watched the gymnastics. The only comment we had about her was her cute nickname ‘Flying Squirrel’.

    We do get shown parents celebrating, but we like it when they are happy and overwhelmed, even if they are from other countries. We are also told for example that this or that rider (I watch all the equestrian events) has recovered from a broken neck or back, or their best horse died or whatever, but not in a mean or overly sensational way. And sometimes they even shut up and let us just watch!

    The only event where hair has been mentioned was the synchronised swimming. Even then they talk more about how hard they train. Thank you for giving me a new appreciation for how good our coverage and commentators are! Are yours not actually sports people that they can find nothing better to say? We tend to have two commentators per event, at least one of which is an expert, either used to compete themselves to a high level, or is a judge or something. I have learned so much about sports I knew little about. I might have to send them an email congratulating and thanking them!

    PS we also have no adverts on the BBC! Of course we do have to pay a licence fee, but it’s seeming like a good deal right now 🙂

    • American commentators, by and large, are VERY superficial when it comes to sports, especially more obscure sports like equestrian, fencing or archery. They’re more obsessed with things like looks or personal drama than the person’s athletic ability. I’ve always admired the BBC’s standards as compared to American networks for various reasons. You’re lucky about the adverts; we get them every few minutes in the States.

  7. Good hair isn’t the texture or color. It’s how you wear what you have. There are certain cuts and styles that look best with certain types of hair, facial structures, and personalities. My hair can’t decide whether it wants to be straight, curly, or wavy. I found it strange the first time I found a coarse, curly, black hair mixed in with my blonde strands. It took me 18 years, but I finally found a hair cut where I can simply wash my hair and let it do it’s own thing. It waves and curls on its own, and ends up looking nice. I end up happier because I don’t feel I have to alter who I really am to be considered pretty. I love it when African-American women wear their hair naturally. It’s absolutely beautiful to be who you are, with no alterations.

    • So true! It’s all about the right style for the face shape and type of hair. Nobody should have to fundamentally change who they are for someone else’s idea of beauty. Thanks for weighing in and glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  8. […] about Great Britain’s amazing equestrian team performance? Thanks to Howlin’ Mad Heather for that […]

  9. What a great blog, Heather.

    I have never once looked at anyone else and thought they had “bad hair.” I certainly never looked at Gabby that way. How shallow and ridiculous!

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