Curly Girl, Straight Girl

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Curly Girl, Straight Girl

A little detour from normal topics…This happened to me about three weeks ago.


I invited a friend for coffee on her day off and she treated me to a lovely spa day. Try speaking Somali/French while under hair dryers and across the room while sitting still as possible. It was a lot of fun. And I thought, what would it be like to have straight hair for a day? So went for the straight look.

It was like this:

  • Lucy didn’t recognize me at school.
  • I was stopped in the middle of the street by friends raving, and I mean raving, about the hair. One woman caused a traffic jam as she hung out the window raving and giving thumbs up signs.
  • One woman told me: “Before you were like, eh. But now you are like Wow. WOW!”
  • At the hotel where I write and work on a part-time job I felt like I was treated more professionally.
  • My husband kept staring and staring and jokingly asked when Kelly or Stephanie (my sisters) moved to Djibouti.
  • I felt like a Barbie.

By late afternoon, though, the gig was up and my hair started to frizz out into the Halo. A few drops of sweat at the nape of my neck and it was all over. Back to this:


I really did feel like people treated me differently when my hair was straight. More like a grown-up. What is it about straight hair that seems to communicate this? When was the last time a curly girl was on the front of a magazine or had the lead in a blockbuster movie? I admit I haven’t seen too many magazines or movies lately. We live in a country Where There Is No Movie Theater. And do curly-hair Barbies even exist? I also admit I haven’t shopped the Barbie aisle lately.

I am far too lazy to straighten my hair so we took photos to remember the occasion. And I like it curly (finally!). Last summer in Minnesota I got my first ever curly girl haircut, at a salon that specializes in curly hair. Best hair cut I have ever had and no one automatically assumed I wanted it straightened. I felt like I was part of a secret society of curly girls.

Women who have embraced their curls and shunned the idea from the world that we need to conform and control our unruly parts.

How about you: Curly or straight? Curlers or straightener? Let it go or style it up? Why?

By |February 20th, 2013|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |34 Comments


  1. alana February 20, 2013 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I personally like your hair with the curly look!! My hair is this weird annoying not curly and not straight long mass of waviness. So in winter I will straighten usually straighten it, in summer its way to hot to straighten so i will usually just stick it in a bum on top of my head! I have two daughters, one with competely straight hair, the other with a head full of ringlets, we always joke that one will be straightening their hair and the other will be curling it..however i hope they can just both embrace who they are and enjoy their hair!!! is that to much to ask?? hehe

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 20, 2013 at 11:11 am - Reply

      My two sisters have totally straight hair and in the 80s/early 90s, my older sister would spend hours curling and perfecting her poofy bangs. I would come into the bathroom and swipe a brush through – done. It was great! Sounds like your two girls.

  2. Joy February 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    I think whatever rocks your boat is the look to go with. My hair is bi-polar – some days curly – other days stick straight. I can tease it curlier but can’t make it stay straight for anything. But since I’ve cut it off it’s pretty straight …. except when it decides to randomly curly in strange places – like the back of my head and no where else!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      I’m lazy so the boat will be rocking with curly unless I’m too lazy to shower and the boat rocks with greasy-gross!

  3. J. R. Goudeau February 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    CURLY! I have curly hair too–I straightened my hair at the salon the other day (the first time in years), then skyped with my sister that night, who has straight hair. When we got on the screen, we started laughing because we looked like mirror images–same hair, same glasses, same old ratty sweatshirts. I think your reaction must be cultural; when I was in Brazil, where everyone has curly hair, they loved it when I straightened it. Here in Texas, I get a lot more comments on my curls. For me, I just don’t want to spend time fighting it. I have big, curly hair and I like it.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      Yes! More curly-girls!

  4. Jessi February 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    oh man, when I was six, my grandma told me that if I ate the crusts on my pb & j every day, it would make my hair curly. I never left bread crusts on my plate again. Alas, turns out Grandma was a big fibber.

    The time it takes to curl my hair is probably about as long as it takes for you to straighten yours, so it happens pretty rarely. Guess we always want what we don’t have, eh?

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      That’s pretty funny about eating your crusts. I do eat mine, so does that balance out your disproving of her theory?!

  5. Jessica Jones February 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    I did a double take because I thought it was Stephanie. And then for a split second I thought it was Kelly. Ha! I’m with Tom. You look great with straight, but I’m partial to the curls. Can’t help it, it’s your trademark! Oh, and your hair looked particularly gorgeous in a photo we got awhile back when you’re wearing the light blue shirt. Side note: we still have you guys with the camel on our fridge too, because, well, there’s a camel in it.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      I’ll have to find that light blue shirt photo and re-do that hair. I’ll try to keep camels in our pics for you, just to guard our spot.

  6. Jessica Jones February 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Yes, please try to insert a camel into every family photo. If you don’t mind. Thanks.

  7. Mamahousemouse February 20, 2013 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Well you know I’ve got straight hair, but it’s worse than that. It WON’T curl. I got a perm in high school & it lasted… until the chemical was rinsed out. Yeah, I left the salon with straight hair.

    It took me over two decades to be content with my hair the way it is… stick-straight & uncurlable, but I’m finally there. I wear it up, I wear it down, I wear it styled, I wear it “free & loose” but regardless, I wear it straight. Because that’s how God wants me to look.

    I think you look PRETTY with straight hair – but like Lucy, I would never recognize you. Your pretty curlies ARE part of you. And I love that.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 21, 2013 at 4:57 am - Reply

      Thanks! I laughed (sorry) about your failed perm experience. That is pretty stinking straight and what we won’t go through to change how we’ve been created, huh?! Your hair is lovely too!

  8. Chris February 21, 2013 at 2:21 am - Reply

    No, no, no, I LOVE the curls! I have curl envy. Curls look GREAT on you. I’m jealous really. Poker straight is boring. Never thought about curly girl discrimination on the cover of mags. Huh. Interesting. Enjoy those curls – love them!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 21, 2013 at 4:58 am - Reply

      Thanks. :O) You rock.

  9. Kenneth Pieh February 21, 2013 at 5:19 am - Reply

    Since this is mom and dad. We have the right answers .
    Cover up all but the eyes and your Steph. The whole faCe with straight hair and u become kelly. In other words we had 6 daughters not 3.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 21, 2013 at 6:06 am - Reply

      You think you could handle six daughters? I’m not quite following the math though…:O)

  10. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms February 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    I really don’t think it is curly vs. straight. I think you got the reactions because of the “freshness” of your ‘do. It was something different, so people reacted. Change the color, change the style and people are “Wow!”
    I have very curly hair, but if you look at my blog, you’ll see mostly straightened pictures at first glance because I just find straightened hair easier in the long run. It looks the same at the beginning of the day as it does at the end. My curls? May look good in the morning, hot mess by bedtime.
    However, if it’s summer, I don’t have time for that blow drying mess, curls all the way . . . and baseball caps. Definitely baseball caps. πŸ™‚ Ellen

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm - Reply

      Probably right – the newness of it. But it did NOT look so good come night time. Baseball caps are a good idea but over here, that would be about constant. Or headscarves or bandanas, those work on dirty, no-good hair days.

  11. Susie February 26, 2013 at 5:57 am - Reply

    I love you and think you are beautiful inside and out, all the time. Curly hair or straight!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones February 26, 2013 at 7:08 am - Reply

      Right back at you Susie!

  12. Christina Robinson March 16, 2013 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Hi, I’m a naturally curly girl and I go curly, just cause i have so much hair (thick, long) that it would take an hour and a half for me to straighten. That said, when I lived in Egypt, and knew I was traveling somewhere with cooler weather or in the winter, I would get it straightened at the salon- read, not that expensive to have done… and I felt like a disney princess! I could actually run my fingers through my hair! (curly girls get this)… Anyways, I don’t think I’m “me” without my curls, but I do like to go straight every once in awhile when someone else does it for me. Until I went to Egypt, I didn’t know my hair could be straightened! πŸ™‚

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones March 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      Ah, running your fingers through your hair…! That sounds so nice. None of that snarly tangled ripping sound. I’m the same way – feeling princess like straight but more ‘me’ curly.

  13. Christie Nelson August 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    This is not so much a comment about the straight or curly hair (though I like your hair better curly! than it is about the simple fact that you are so totally amazing and all about people! I notice how you leave a reply to every single person’s post no matter how short, long, corny, or ‘right on’ the post is! You take time for your readers! Who does that today? Not many anyway. Kudos for you!

    I’m so new to your website and I’m learning about you and your family bit by bit. I’ve not found a post that completely describes who you are and what you do but that’s OK because it keeps my peak of curiosity up. I have read mention of a girl’s name, your husband, Egypt, and a city whose name I don’t know but assuming that it is in Egypt. I read mention that you translated for a purity talk and French Somalian something… Questions marks are filling my head! As I have time, I’ll continue the quest… I’ve just arrived back to Shenzhen where I teach Intensive English to Grade 1-4 Chinese students at a 3 year old international school. It’s been so buy getting ready for the Open House today… and we all literally just got back Thursday (well, most of us)!

    I love your posts and your styles of writing! I love that you love people and that by the looks of it, you love most especially little people and people who have encountered misfortune in life and/or who are among the most downtrodden of the world, too! I also love that you love to either treat yourself or allow others to treat you now and then to a moment, an hour, or a day of pampering yourself! πŸ™‚

  14. Sarah November 2, 2013 at 5:11 am - Reply

    Love Curly! I told Martha about the curly girl salon, so if she told you, I’m your curly-haired Grandma. Ha! After fighting with my hair for 20 years, I finally love it once I decided to just let it be curly. It’s so much more healthy too! Enjoy your NYC trip!

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones November 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      In that case, you totally rock. I love it, can’t wait to get another cut next time I’m in Mpls, I feel like I can’t have anyone else do it now, but two years is a long time to go without a haircut! So I make due and dream about the next good one.

  15. Kellie November 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    I love your curly hair. I know you had a post about myths about curly hair and I’m sure their are some pains about it but I really thinks curly hair is beautiful. I am stuck with wavy –

  16. Cindy Finley November 27, 2013 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Love your curly!

  17. Mary Perry November 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    I’ve always loved the natural look, and it truly seems to look better on curly girls than straight ones. Recently, In the summer, I’ve begun letting mine go natural at age 60ish and it is curly in the heat. Wish I would have thought of doing it back when we were over in SE Asia, but those were the wedge cut days. I feel so much more free and creative when I can shake out my curly hair and not worry about it! Sadly, winter requires me to blow dry it and be concerned about where it sits.

  18. Michael April 11, 2014 at 4:24 am - Reply

    In both straight hair and curl hair is looks beautiful on you and i think straight hair better looks.

  19. Renita April 14, 2014 at 4:59 am - Reply

    In both pictures you looks too different but in straight hair you looks better even in curly hair.

  20. Elizabeth Trotter June 30, 2014 at 7:10 am - Reply

    I personally have always LOVED your curly hair. And at least you don’t have to work at it πŸ™‚

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  22. […] I have curly hair (and here is when I had straight hair). I don’t remember hating my curls (they made for excellent and simple poofy bangs in the β€˜80s) and my mom adored them, she never encouraged me to straighten my hair. But I never really learned how to do curls well either. It took a trip to a salon specifically designed for curly hair for me to learn, after almost four decades of curls, how to do my hair. […]

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