I swear people used to have curlier hair back in the day. At some point, people just stopped having curly hair in such great numbers, and the emo was born. Or…was the coming of the first emo such a momentous event that it forever shocked a great many people’s hair into being straight?
All these questions and more can be found in my newest coffee table book: What Happened to Curly? There will be pictures, of course, taken direct from hair salons in the Melbourne CBD, but way back in the 1950s when everyone had curly hair. You didn’t go to the salon to make your hair curly; you went to make it curlier. Like, with rollers and giant head things that I cannot name, but they’re giant, and they go over your head. Oh, there may have been a few straight-haired people around, but they hid their misfortune and went regularly to secret hair stylists so they could conform themselves to the ‘proper’ way.
I feel like now, in today’s society, things have balanced themselves out. There’s still perhaps a greater lilt towards straight or wavy hair, but plenty of people lean into the curls. People are happy to let you have your straight or curly hair preference. You can go along to a hair salon, or a stylist, and you can either ask to have your hair straightened or have it curled, and no one bats an eyelid. But oh, SO much eyelid batting in the 1950s, when hair salons in South Melbourne were harsh, unforgiving places where judgement was common. There was one style, and that was ‘sort of like a bob but a bit longer and with visible curls’ for women, and ‘really shiny and plastered to your head, with visible curls anyway’ for men. Didn’t like bobs, or shiny hair? Tough.
Truly, we are liberated today.