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The New York Times: Don’t Stress, Curly Hair is Cool

Step away from the flat iron! Read More

By / August 27, 2014

Curly-haired Jews, your fashion exile ends today. The New York Times has declared natural, wild tresses to be the next big thing—which means you can finally throw out your flat iron, cancel your keratin treatment, and ditch that physical therapist you were seeing for straightening-related RSI:

Highly visible musicians like Lorde, St. Vincent and Rita Ora have made curly manes part of their look. Art-world darlings like the young photographers Olivia Bee and Petra Collins are also skipping the blowout. The look is styled but a little messy, even embracing a certain amount of… yes, frizz. And with a new interest in curly hair has come a demand for salons accomplished in dealing with it.

Of course, this isn’t news to Jews and other minority follicular groups. There are websites, stores, books, and documentaries dedicated to the “problem” of curly hair—but some of us have been celebrating it for years. Who can forget Amy Irving’s luscious mop of curls in Crossing Delancey? Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City—or, for that matter, in Girls Just Want to Have Fun?

In 2012, Talia Lavin wrote a great piece for Jewcy about learning to embrace her frizzy mane (which seems to attract a lot of undue attention on public transit):

Wherever I go, my hair gives me away, ungovernable as my stiff-necked people, and as treacherous as our enemies say we are—a fifth column of frizz.

In the past I’ve resorted to creative dyeing. On my gap year, I chopped it short and spiked it with electric purple, and since then, I’ve hidden it under an ever-shifting spectrum of reds, golds, and, once, an unfortunate sallow orange. But even so, it spills resolutely down my forehead—if not a Mark of Cain, then at least a Mark of Cohen. In rural Iceland, I was informed repeatedly that my hair would make “really great dreads.” (Anyone who looked at the rest of my face or body could tell you that this is a “really terrible idea.”)

And earlier this year, Jewcy contributor Samantha Shokin penned a moving piece for Tablet about how a trip to Israel instilled her with a sense of pride in her heritage—and her hair:

What we here endearingly refer to as the “Jewfro” is, in Israel, described as leefa—bushy, unruly hair. Tumbleweed hair. Curls that defy styling products. Unabashed frizz.

I considered my bundle of Jewish locks. Messy tendrils framed my face, tinged gold by the blazing sun. My own leefa, once a source of so much shame and frustration, was here not only common but a cause for celebration. These were my tribemates.

All this curly-hair pride is making me feel a little bereft, like I’m missing out on some great, unifying tribal characteristic. I’m the product of a mixed-marriage—straight-haired father, curly-haired mother—and my own locks fall somewhere on the spectrum between “dead straight” and “moderately wavy,” depending on length and humidity. My sister, however, has glorious Shirley Temple-esque ringlets; bouncy and abundant and downright charming. For years we’ve both argued that the other sister won the genetic lottery. Today, finally, we can declare her the winner: curly hair is in, and #TheTimesIsOnIt.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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