The Straight Hair Mafia

December 9th, 2010

It’s a funny thing, my hair – and everyone’s, really. I was born with just wisps of it and stayed that way ‘til I was terribly two, when apparently a hormone? kicked in, and eventually pulled my wisps into straight strands past my shoulders by the age of ten. My youngest sibling, my sister, had just entered kindergarten, so my mom who had been a stay-at-home since she made her move to the U.S. of A, enrolled in beauty school. She just woke up one morning, as the story goes, and said: “I wanna do hair.” And for 20 years she has done many-a-human head. She had quite the touch, mom, from the beginning. One of the first things she did, incredibly while still in beauty school, is perm my hair permanently. I sat in her guinea pig chair until several long blue rods, laced with my long straight strands, pulled heavily on my scalp. I was happy. In less than an hour, I would have curls.

And 20 years later, I still have them. The truth is probably that my hair was destined to ride the waves of my adolescent hormones, curling and bending anyway. But, I will never know. This story is actually beside the point. I just like to say that I have a permanent perm. Like, my head took that shit literally.  But one thing is true, just like almost everything in my life – I’ve experienced both: straight and curly. Here comes the issue…

I’m sitting in a new fancy leather chair, in Achrafieh now, with a complimentary espresso in a French salon. Today my hair is short and curly, and so it needs regular visits to the coiffure. My hair today actually is almost the same cut that my mom gave me at 12, another experiment, the year that rolled out nighttime dream after dream of long hairs streaming from every which place. Back then it was a mushroom cloud. Like something had erupted in my mind, and poof. This time around, since I’ve got a hold of my curls, I wasn’t worried about choosing my hair to be short. For a while now, I’ve known how to tame these suckers with just the right amount of touching (not too much) and my jar of goop, currently Palmers.  Thing is, though it’s not true for all curly heads, my hair is really easy. If you want it in minutes, my hair is usually done in less than 1. I rub the goop between my hands and lightly spread it through and leave it to air-dry. This is why it’s disturbing to me when I sit in the salon in Achrafieh and after cleaning up my funky new haircut, my coiffure takes four fingers and runs them through my hair like a comb with the hairdryer, aimed, on full blast. That’s pretty much the first item on the “don’t” list for curly hair. Because you know what happens? Mushroom cloud! So on my recent visit, in the midst of this atrocious hair-handling, I interrupted and asked for a diffuser (an attachment for the hairdryer, especially designed for curly hair, in that it’s broad and doesn’t blow your hair away).

Me: Ma3leish, do you have a diffuser?

Him: No.

Me: Huh? No, I mean (here I gesture) it’s for curly hair.

Him: Yes, I know, but we don’t have one.

Me: Are you serious? You don’t have a diffuser?

Him: No, we don’t. (He looked at me dead serious.)

Me: I can’t believe that this fancy salon doesn’t have a diffuser! Really???

Him: No, but I just don’t want to give it to you.

Me: (speechless)

Him: (goes to a nearby cabinet and pulls out a diffuser.)

Me: You lied to me? Why?

Him: Because I don’t like your hair curly.

Me: What? You don’t what?

Him: It looks eighties when you leave it curly.

The irony.

The epiphany: Lebanese coiffures have killed the curls.

Listen, it may sound like a hasty generalization, but I’ve been wondering about this for a while. For the longest, I couldn’t understand why “brushing” is favored by most people with half a curl. On several occasions, there have been friends, colleagues, or acquaintances who have revealed that they have naturally curly hair, and it freaks me out. (But, but, you’ve had straight hair for the past 3 years…) It is a curious thing that keeping your curls, which is most people’s natural hair around here, is faux pas. I chalk it up to similar phenomena that is not only a trend because it has caught fire and people want to be hip, but because of these random “authorities.” It’s no different when you get your eyebrows done (“tsk, tsk, who messed these up for you?”) or your nails (“square shape ahla”) or you buy a pair of jeans (“you have too much right around here” – see hips) and the list goes on, made by random self-proclaimed “authorities” dictating what we should look like…

Akh, the authorities…

7 Responses to “The Straight Hair Mafia”

  1. Gary says:

    I don’t care what the authorities say, I’m keeping my curls. Oh hell, I forgot, I don’t have any hair. Problem solved.

  2. rima says:

    you want some curls, gare? i’m sure there’s a solution to that!

  3. Maria says:

    Hahaha “brushing” I haven’t heard that in AGES!

    May I add that I have always felt that there is also a straight LONG HAIR mafia?

  4. Elsa says:

    Brilliant Rimaz, as always :)

  5. Ziad says:

    Dear Rima,

    Funny you should bring-up the hair issue. But haven’t you noticed that all Lebanese girls are converging for the same look. The question is: how long will this convergence take before they all look exactly alike?

    Actually, it will make the life of Lebanese men easier! Girls will all have the same hair, same nose, same eyebrows, same lips, same boobs, same ass cheeks, totally hairless body, etc ………….. you name it. Maybe men can finally concentrate on what is under the skin!

  6. angie says:


    I loved this article and have been preaching this topic for years (not specifically about hair of course). Wish more people understood this tall tale of beauty.

    Keep on.


  7. Simon says:

    funny and serious; quite enjoyable.
    i think we yearn for what we don’t have. in japan, the trend for girls (with their naturally straight black hair) is to make it curly and brown.
    the authorities (in fashion and other fields) are surely responsable; the peer pressure too. but don’t you admire people with free strong opinions !?
    i hope you kept your curls ;)

Leave a Reply