March 26, 2012

On the straight and curly

I came of age in the '90s, in the wake of "GenX" influenced culture and style. I read avidly, listened to college radio obsessively, and treated that which was popular or "mainstream" with suspicion or even  contempt. I sought role models and mentors who were strong, outspoken, opinionated women, who refused to be defined by their appearances and who inspired me to critique heteronormative, patriarchal paradigms of gender.

As a teen, I self-identified as a riot grrl, feminist, and punk. I felt as though I was a part of the communities that inhabited those subcultures, even as a sheltered exurbanite who lived with her supportive, encouraging, middle-class parents and precocious, beloved siblings. Although my desire to align with subcultural rebellion was tempered by middle class privileges, a general deference to authority, and my mannerly demeanor, the plight of the outsider spoke to me. The literary narratives I gravitated toward featured outsiders. My favorite films made central the subject of rebellion. And even after I was crowned Homecoming Queen, senior year of high school, I still clung to the notion that in some ways, I too was an outsider (...outside of what, I'm still not entirely sure).

From these perspectives I came to form the beliefs and values I still carry as an adult. And in many ways these ideas continue to inform how I negotiate and perform my identity . I've written about my distrust of the discourses of flattering that insist women be and look as small as they can.  I've shared the stories of how I came to accept aspects of my appearance (like my large Italian nose) even though they've been a source of much self-loathing and critique over the course of my young adult and adult life. I've tried to remind myself and others close to me that despite the tenets of neoliberal/capitalist ideologies, the world does not have to be a perpetual competition/beauty pageant. I've commiserated with "real life" and "blog life" girlfriends about how our processes of self-acceptance aren't linear. And I've talked about how my not-curly-enough-and-yet-not-willing-to-straighten hair has been another source of frustration.

So when I was offered a Hana Salon flat iron to review from Misikko, at first I was reluctant. I've spent far too many hours of my adolescent and post-adolescent life fighting with the natural curl pattern of my hair... using round brushes and blow driers with serums and products, before flat irons became  ubiquitous. Eventually I came to accept my hair and even view the waves as a visual statement that challenged the notion that straight hair was inherently better. And with other women, I seek to find a balance between my hair's texture and professionalism.

Still, options are nice. Despite my penchant for making statements, I still find myself in situations (professional and otherwise) where I might want to have straight hair. So I spoke with my circle of friends (many of who also happen to use the best flat irons) to ask them if it was difficult, if it was damaging, if it was worth it, etc. I also half jokingly asked if using one was "selling out" to the tyranny of a status quo. After reminding me not to overthink everything, they suggested I give it a go.

Very soon afterwards, my Hana arrived. It was packaged carefully and came with a travel case as well as a silicon pad for resting during use plus some bonus items shown above. It was indeed easy to use and I think my hair got pretty straight! I didn't use any serums or straightening aids. I just used the iron. I was a bit nervous to turn it up to be as hot as it can get but I love that there is a temperature setting. Here is the result:

A number of coupon codes float around so be sure to find one that works best for you. But HanaSalon will take 10% off all Hana orders. And I think I can sport straight hair while still being me. Besides, a hair straightener can be used for multiple styles.  They can create straight hair or be used more creatively for curls or other styles. I am excited to experiment with mine. Thanks for reading!


Terri said...

Whoa, it did indeed straighten those waves! I have wave in my hair too, but less than you do. Women at work rave about the natural wave, although I generally fight with mine too. I know when my hair is freshly washed and blow dry that it will remain straight for about 24 hours. My solution is often to simply pull it back in a ponytail, an urge I note you resist!

dajana, all kinds of lovely said...

I like your straightened hair, Jess. It's fun for us "textured" hair ladies to switch it up now and then. I, like you, have come to accept and love my crazy waves & curls. Except for when it rains and on tropical vacations... then I'm ready to shave it all off.

M. said...

I like your nose! And I don't think of it as large, even though there's nothing wrong with not being small.

thatdamngreendress said...

That's a striking difference- definitely a fun option to have! I wonder if Hana have a reverse, volumizing magical tool!...(My last perm, in 1986, lasted approximately 5 days before my hair was dead straight again).

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

It would be great if there existed a "grass is greener" tool that allowed people to play with their hair opposite for a day or something.

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Thank you! It is most definitely large and takes after my father. The bump is especially significant. But like you, I don't think large is as bad a thing as I did as an awkward, somewhat self-loathing adolescent.

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Totally fun to have the option for switching! But I actually appreciate its ungodly bigness when I'm in super humid, tropical climes. Mostly because it just seems so over the top. :)

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

I tend not to do a ponytail but that's partially because I'm too lazy to really work with it. I also think I have come to view my longer hair as a feminine security blanket of sorts. I do want to learn a few more up-dos and actually take the time to do them. I have a bunch pinned but have yet to follow through.


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