Perceptions of curly hair

(61 Posts)
greenteawithlemon Sat 20-Apr-13 16:58:06

Feeling a bit bummed about my naturally curly mop.

Every time I go for an interview, I straighten it. I "tame" it with straighteners every day.

Every boyfriend I've had prefers it straight.

Sigh. Wish curly hair could be seen as sexy and professional in the same way as straight hair.

Leedscatgirl Sat 20-Apr-13 17:00:23

My dh loves my curly hair and hates it been straightened

But I'm with u on the professional thing - I always straighten it for interviews or big meetings why?? Cause I feel it looks like I'm more in control??
But I hope I'm wrong

I have curly hair and have not found this. Maybe that's your perception, but I don't think that everyone thinks that way.

SherbetVodka Sat 20-Apr-13 17:11:24

I think curly hair looks lovely and have envied people with natural curls ever since I was little.

dexter73 Sat 20-Apr-13 17:15:07

I have curly hair and have never felt I needed to straighten it to feel professional. My dh loves it curly too, so I have to disagree with you!

HilaryM Sat 20-Apr-13 17:18:21

I have curly hair and don't straighten it but I agree with you. It is hard to look professional when your hair is so wild. It's lovely when it looks nice (about 20% of the time) but mostly it just looks scruffy.

VelvetSpoon Sat 20-Apr-13 17:20:22

When I was at university I had very long naturally curly hair (it is a bit shorter now). I was told by several 'friends' that it was common and that was why none of the public school types were interested in me hmm

I was so paranoid about it back then I tied it into a tight bun for all my graduate interviews in case employers were put off by my common curls!

In my 20s, I had several BF's who referred to my hair as 'frizzy' (it's not) and said it looked better straight. My ExP used to call it a mop and always be on at me to straighten it.

Despite this, I love my hair. I do wear it up for interviews (in a loose bun, you can still see the curls) but never straighten it (haven't done so for years)

AlwaysOneMissing Sat 20-Apr-13 17:37:35

Velvet good for you!! Your hair sounds beautiful. I have straight hair and have always been so jealous of my curly haired friends.
IME most people love curly hair GreenTea.

Lolapink Sat 20-Apr-13 17:41:14

I have curly hair, and love it. I never straighten it.

BettyandDon Sat 20-Apr-13 17:44:25

The one thing I like about my curly hair is that you can get away with doing very little with it.

No hair dryers, no straightening, just a bit of balm/serum and you're off.

I think it is harder to make it look smart though <but I dont give a rats arse as I am on a career break >

louisianablue2000 Sat 20-Apr-13 17:48:39

I now have curly hair (pregnancy made it curl and each child made it curlier), my hairdresser always straightens it (I can't be bothered) but thankfully cuts it in a short style that looks OK with nothing much done to it.

Still miss my sleek bob from prechild days though!

minniedriver Sat 20-Apr-13 19:34:47

Straighten my curls for work ....prefer my curly look to be honest but think it makes me look a bit mad.

Also as I have got older more unkempt...wild curls looked fab at 25 but a bit ungroomed at 45 maybe?

bishboschone Sat 20-Apr-13 19:37:14

I never straighten my hair but I agree I feel much smarter when it is straight. I have been told many many times over the years my hair is sexy so I disagree. I think curly rocks !

Fillyjonk75 Sat 20-Apr-13 19:41:20

I have never thought of curly hair as any less professional or smart. But a friend with very curly hair had adverse comments about her hair in her appraisal once shock.

dexter73 Sat 20-Apr-13 19:45:08

shock Discrimination against curly hair!!!!

chanie44 Sat 20-Apr-13 21:15:49

I think straight hair is perceived to be a more groomed look, which is why it looks more professional.

Most women don't have poker straight hair and it is time consuming to get it, hence it looking groomed.

I'm a curly girl and think my curls are one of the first thing people notice about me, I think I might straighten it as I haven't do so in ages, but I do love my curls.

LaFataTurchina Sat 20-Apr-13 23:04:46

I love my curly hair, I think its my best feature.
But I'm Italian and lots of people have curly hair there so I don't think it's unusual!

My English friends always try to persuade me to let them straighten it - it takes sooo long and is so boring to do I've only let them do it a couple of times.

In Italy I don't feel like my hair is 'unprofessional' but in England I do worry people will find it a bit wild/frizzy in interviews. I did it in a braid with I nice hairclip for my last interview.

BriansBrain Sat 20-Apr-13 23:09:36

I'm curly and never straighten it, I feel it's part of me and wild suits me.

Don't really care if others don't agree.

intheshed Sat 20-Apr-13 23:16:40

My 5yo DD has a gorgeous mop of curly hair. She wants nothing more than long straight hair like her friends.

The other night it was soaking wet from the bath so I used the hairdryer on it and stupidly used the brush etc to blowdry it 'straight' so she could see what it looked like (still pretty wavy but loads longer). She cried when she woke up and it was curly again sad

I for one would love her hair and she constantly gets complimented on it by strangers!

alwayslateforwork Sat 20-Apr-13 23:16:51

Didn't we have a weather girl who was criticised for her curly hair not being professional a few years back?

Anyway, yes. I'm v curly - I spent 16 years dragging my hair back into a bun wet, so that it was under control for work. I had very close colleagues who didn't recognise me when my hair was down.

Two years ago I had it cut short. Long and curly is great, and sexy, but it is virtually impossible to cut the 'honestly I am a professional' mustard, when you inevitably look like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards if you so much as walk out of the door into a slight breeze, or the humidity in the air changes.

If you are a creative type, it's just about possible. But any other work situation, they expect 'grooming'. Pah.

Having it short (pixie short) makes it tolerable. I don't feel inadequate every morning when I look in the mirror, and have to spend time trying to change the curl to make it look less scary.

I love curly hair. But the rest of the world hates it (except old ladies) so in order to appear as competent as other workers, you end up trying to conform.

It's all bollocks, really, of course. I mean, the state of my hair doesn't reflect on my ability to use my brain. But it does rather seem that a lot of supposedly intelligent folk think that it does... Those born poker straight have no idea how easy they have it. ;-)

Iggi101 Sat 20-Apr-13 23:19:45

Had no idea people felt this way. confused
Hair looks suitable for professional roles if it is clean, styled a bit and shows signs of the odd visit to a hairdresser (ie nice ends rather than straggly ones).
Nowt to do with curly/straight.

HandsofaCrone Sat 20-Apr-13 23:20:12

I know lots of men who love their gf/wife's very curly hair - its one of their favourite things about their appearance. My hair is wavy verging on curly but my dh, dad, fil and uncle all really like it when I make it properly curly. I think you just have a complex op!

Iggi101 Sat 20-Apr-13 23:25:26

Alwayslateforwork - I'm sorry but I just can't agree that 'everyone hates' curly hair. There is a fashion currently for straight hair, but real jobs have a wide variety of people of different ages, sizes, hairstyles and colour. Bosses I have known have had loads of different hair types. Not suggesting you look like this lovely shot from [http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&source=mog&hl=en&gl=us&client=ms-rim&tab=wi&q=working%20girl%20melanie&sa=N# Working Girl] but think there are more important things to worry about professionally.

Iggi101 Sat 20-Apr-13 23:26:24

Try that again: Working Girl

Startail Sat 20-Apr-13 23:27:58

The lady I know with very wild curly hair is a doctor. You can't get much more professional than that.

My hair is dead straight and never looks neat or groomed.

squoosh Sat 20-Apr-13 23:29:26

I'm grin at the idea that curly hair is off putting to public school types. Is it only busty serving wenches or scullery maids that have curly hair?

HandsofaCrone Sat 20-Apr-13 23:30:10

Curly hair has traditionally been seen as very feminine, an ideal (think pre-raphaelites and almost all romantic descriptions of women's hair in literature - no one ever writes 'she had beautiful straight hair that looked like it had been ironed to within and inch of its life'). Maybe that's why SOME people have considered it to be incompatible with the professional world...

wearingpurple Sat 20-Apr-13 23:33:46

Ah, you've reminded me of a bit of the book What Katy Did (late Victorian, I think) where one of the children always includes in her self-penned fairy stories 'the princess's hair was straight as a yardstick and she never NO NEVER had to put her hair in curl papers' or something like that.

alwayslateforwork Sat 20-Apr-13 23:48:13

Squoosh - YES!

It's ridiculous, but it's more than accepted as a truth - posh gels have straight hair. Curly girls are common, matronly, or sexy. They aren't professional.

Star - I bet she dragged it back and controlled it for years during her training, and is having a mid-life 'fuck it, I've made it and don't have to conform any more' rebellion.

Iggi, the link worked the second time but I feel like I've totally missed the point - loads of women with overworked and straightened but big hair, and a couple of faintly wavy ones? No real curls to be seen?

But I'm loving the eighties vibe. It was the only time I remember in my life when my hair actually fit in with the rest of society. For the last 25 years it's been the cause of much mirror angst in order to attempt to confirm to the groomed and professional look, and the cause of much eyebrow raising and sucking of teeth if I don't bother. grin

Hands, definitely. It's considered very feminine, hence the sexy comment upthread. And most bosses don't consider sexy to be very professional. Hence the adoption of masculine modes of professionalism, or über grooming to distance that overtly 'out of control' look.

alwayslateforwork Sat 20-Apr-13 23:51:02

<even if you have spent two freaking hours trying to control it>

Only a curly girl knows the trauma of spending two hours trying to make her hair look presentable, only to arrive at work at glance in the mirror and think 'why the actual fuck did I bother? It looks like I slept on it, or spent six hours shagging on the tube on the way in'.

'Do something with your hair'

Like I haven't been fecking trying.

Iggi101 Sat 20-Apr-13 23:54:46

It was just a reminder of how much our views on hair come down to fashion.
Posh is not the same as professional, surely? If people are saying in their professions it is perfectly fine to have non-straight hair, you can't really argue with that can you?
I'm not disagreeing with the idea that the current fashion is for straight hair, but that all curly-haired women are viewed as unprofessional.. (Better not tell my boss!)

And heaven help non-caucasian women who might have totally different hair types.

HandsofaCrone Sat 20-Apr-13 23:58:07

I remember being solo jealous of Gabby's curly hair in Neighbours - it was beautiful! And Julia Roberts's in Pretty Woman. I've seen quite a few curly bobs on Pinterest that look great - less wild than long curls but still not fighting your natural texture. And a curly bob can look awesomely 1920s. Not that I'm saying people should cut their long curly hair. If it was me I'd let it fly around sexily all the time, or pile it all on top of my head for a cool up do. As it is I have weedy little short waves.

Bessie123 Sat 20-Apr-13 23:59:10

A woman I know interviewed for a job, which she was offered, but with feedback that her hair was not professional because it is curly and was not tied back. They then proceeded to treat her horrendously for the 5 months they employed her. She says now that she shouldn't have ignored the warning signs of their stupid comments about her hair.

alwayslateforwork Sun 21-Apr-13 00:21:13

Oh yup, totally. Fashion has a lot to answer for. But then, if you aren't at least keeping tabs on what is 'fashionable' then that can be viewed as not being properly groomed as well.

And I speak as the least fashion-led person on the planet. And not just because of my curly hair. But it did mean that my then-manager expressed the desire to make me over, as I could just look fabulous with her help.

Weird that she had Nowt to say about my professional capabilities, but was always angsty about my appearance. grin

The curly criticism only ever happens to white women. That's not to say that anyone else doesn't have a whole heap of other potential criticisms or historical (and plausibly current) discriminations to fret over. My colleague has the most amazing curly hair envy and I've never heard anyone complain or comment on it. She does tie it back, but it's effortlessly gorgeous. The other two curly women in the office? Weekly moaning, and one's my manager. Of course, it might just be that my colleague has a much better sense of style and grooming than i do... grin

And that's not to even start on the grey and curly routine. Yes, mirror, I'm looking at you.

I'm all for being out and proud about your curls. But it'd be interesting to see the untouched kate bush look back in...

Aesthetic conformity is a pita.

Laquila Sun 21-Apr-13 10:44:14

I have just-past-shoulder-length curly hair and agree that it's perceived, somehow, as less professional than sleek straight hair. This was definitely the case in a large law firm I worked at in London, maybe a bit less so in my current job (still office-based but retail, and much more casual).

But I noticed this most whilst working for a huge-name couture house in London a few years ago - my colleagues all had incredibly sleek, straight, shiny hair, and I felt very inadequate to begin with! Having shiny sleek hair was definitely seen as part of the being-groomed-and-professional thing. I got the distinct impression that I was deemed not to be trying hard enough - it was all very Devil Wears Prada. Tbh though, it was more my eating habits that threw them - having more than a sardine and a crispbread for lunch was practically a sacking offence.

Laquila Sun 21-Apr-13 10:46:37

wearingpurple I LOVED those books! And felt her pain...

dontyouwantmebaby Sun 21-Apr-13 11:48:30

this thread is a real eye-opener, as someone with long, straight hair (I wouldn't call it sleek!), I'd KILL to have natural curls. I really never knew that people with curly hair were thought of as 'unprofessional' or not groomed shock

agree that fashions have a lot to answer for, I was aghast when I found out my 13yo niece with absolutely GORGEOUS naturally curly hair had been using straighteners! I cannot believe her mum let her but I'm not a mum to a teenage girl so what do I know. Don't follow the pack, be individual.

kerstina Sun 21-Apr-13 13:08:33

I have wavy fine wavy hair but have always loved a natural straight look. I really envied my friends naturally polka straight hair. She looked like Vanessa Paradis. However she and lots of other people in the 80's decided to have tight curl perms. That included the boys shock I was probably one of the few who had no desire to have a perm and was attracted to my then boyfriend because he had short hair not a permed mullet grin
It is now fashionable to have shiny sleek hair but I think curly hair is becoming more covetable again judging by the babyliss curler thread.

HilaryM Sun 21-Apr-13 14:22:54

Love the idea of 'polka' straight hair...

HandsofaCrone Sun 21-Apr-13 15:07:30

This has bought back memories of being at uni in the early 2000s. I lived on an all-girl floor in halls and we divided into two friendship groups pretty quickly. In one group the girls all had poker straight, dyed blonde hair, which they ironed to within an inch of its life every night before they went out (the smell of burning hair was rank!) In my group (the less cool group grin) we all had curly or messy wavy hair and went to indie clubs instead of the meat market big clubs. Straight hair was definitely something to aspire to back then, if you wanted to be in.

girlonfire Sun 21-Apr-13 15:17:50

I have straight hair and have always envied women with curly hair. I think if curly hair is well groomed it looks gorgeous.

Ages ago I read that curly or wavy hair looked unprofessional, so I bought some straighteners. They electrocuted me on first use. I took it as a sign and have been wavy ever since. grin

That and having bare legs at work. What MUST people think of me.

HandsofaCrone your group sounds way cooler.

Bessie123 Sun 21-Apr-13 15:23:10

girlonfire I think that is the point - curly hair can't often be 'well groomed'.

MadBusLady Sun 21-Apr-13 15:28:07

Greentea Stop straightening it! You need to get used to it curly and learn what works and what products to use to make the best of it. Curly hair can definitely look groomed and well-behaved with the right cut and treatment.

I do put my curly hair up if I want to look super-polished, but I'd do that if I had straight hair too.

bleedingheart Sun 21-Apr-13 16:13:49

A senior colleague once warned me that I'd never be taken seriously unless I straightened my hair. I can't straighten mine without it looking like frizzy straw, it has (or had before pregnancies) a super string curl.
I've never straightened it but I do wear it in a roll or pleat for interviews.
I try not to let perceptions bother me because I am common and matronly wink

bleedingheart Sun 21-Apr-13 16:15:36

*strong not string!

Hanginggardenofboobylon Sun 21-Apr-13 16:22:54

This is really interesting, I have dark blonde naturally curly hair and have at times had it very blonde. It has never occurred to me that it would be considered less professional or that it would be viewed negatively. I am a lawyer and spend a lot of time in court with a wig plonked on top of my 'big hair'! I don think it has ever come up as an issue, I do tie it back in a pony tail or French pleat most of the time, but I do go to court/meetings with it loose and I can't say anyone has ever commented negatively (that I know of!)

<< gets paranoid that people are judging my curls>>

bulletproofgerbil Sun 21-Apr-13 18:05:55

I have straight, fine, lank hair and HATE it. I've always been really envious of you curly haired folk. It looks so thick and lush. My friend was like you OP and fought against her curls for years and years. I didn't realise just how curly hers was till, encouraged by a new hairdresser, she embraced her curls. I have never seen her look as fabulous as she does these days. If you know what Kate Humble from Autumn/Spring etc Watch on TV looks like, it's like that. My friend looks younger and more vibrant with her naturals curls. Just beautiful. And she says she wish she'd stopped working against it before. I know quite a few curly professional people. I don't think they look ungroomed or out of control one bit.

Jayne266 Sun 21-Apr-13 18:39:07

I hate my curly hair and if it has to be curly (to give it a break from the straighteners) then I tie it up.

auldspinster Sun 21-Apr-13 20:49:32

I spent years trying to blow dry my wavy hair but eventually decided to embrace the curls. I do wear it up for work but that's just because I have so much of it and it gets in my way.

EleanorFarjeon Sun 21-Apr-13 22:06:36

I have long curly hair, it's never occurred to me that it could look less professional. I work in a very male dominated profession. I always thought the reason I get gawped at in work situations is because I'm a rare female - maybe it's because of my untamed locks! I'm secretly very proud of it & get many nice comments.

I look ghastly with it dried straight, and about 10 years older.

Ruprekt Sun 21-Apr-13 22:13:48

I am a curly girl too.

Which products do you use to make the curls nice and soft?

I use mousse which gives it a crunchy texture so was looking for other options. smilesmilesmile

kingbeat23 Sun 21-Apr-13 23:37:42

I have really curly hair but straighten it as I'm a lazy bugger and I don't have to wash it all the time.

When its curly I don't brush it but after 2 days I start to get dreads.

Strangely all my girl friends love my curly hair and all my male friends (that do care) like it straight.

It's easier straight but I do love having a choice

I'm naturally loose curly and used to straighten every day but since having ds almost 18 months ago i rarely do.

My hairdresser says my hair is in fantastic condition, the best it's been for years (i always used 'heat protection' things but apparently they didn't work all that well!) I love my hair when it's down and my curls are thick and high - not straggling at yhe sides.

My only problem is i wear my hair up 99.9% of the time and it does look frizzy but i just cba to deal with it especially being 24 weeks pregnant with dc3 ..

Llareggub Mon 22-Apr-13 00:20:38

I blow dry my curly hair so I don't have to wash it every day. I don't blow it straight, but make it wavy rather than mentally frizzy. I love how my hair can be so versatile.

SignoraStronza Mon 22-Apr-13 00:29:18

With the help of every frizz eeze product going, have finally embraced my curly hair. Have even dyed it bright pink! When I was a teenager it was beautiful blonde ringlets. Then I had it all lopped into a pixie crop and grew back in a more tousled form. Dh loves my wild and wooly hair - is not keen when I come back from the hairdressers having had it blow dried straight.

kingbeat23 Tue 23-Apr-13 16:07:00

Thank fuck for frizz eeze! I used to get grounded by my dad as he thought I hadn't brushed/washed my hair and I was a rag bag! shockhmm

I'd like to get to a point where I don't have to use product. I'd like to have a Brazilian blow dry and just step out of the shower with straight hair but it costs fuck loads! Until the ghd's and product for lazy straight hair!

I've just given up the GHDs after years of abusing my naturally curly hair.
First week I hated my hair.. it looks wild and totally untameable. Week two.. I'm loving the freedom of it, it looks different every day and it is much easier to get to stay in clips and scrunch into a messy bun.

Colleages (school) have said it looks much nicer like this . DH on the other hand has barely noticed.. grin but then I had an 80's perm when we met!
I am not straightening it again until my next trim (about 8 weeks) . Hoping it will be glorious and shiny by thensmile

daimbardiva Tue 23-Apr-13 21:23:51

Ooh, this is inspiring/exciting. I really long to give up straightening and embrace my waves/curls but I just keep bottling out as I don't know how to cope with curls anymore...

VenusRising Tue 23-Apr-13 21:49:04

I have wavy/curly hair and am always taken more seriously (which is reflected in how much money I earn) if my hair is straight.

Only occasionally do I let it loose and curly, and it does indeed look ratty after a few hours. I feel less professional with it, as is.

I think it's linked to racism, after all, black women spend huge money on Asian hair weaves and wigs to look Caucasian- just look at Michelle Obama- have you ever seen her with her hair au natural- NO! She relaxes it, and has a blow out.

It's pretty tragic, but it's true where I am: straight hair is seen as more masculine, and part of the working uniform, curly hair means that you're just not part of the working world- unless you're an artist or some such.

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