Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Hair Mystery on NPR?

NPR has started a series about hair. For this article, Jessica Goldstein goes on the hunt for information about hair mysteries, such as when and why hair sometimes abuptly changes texture (when puberty hits, hormones, just because). Her article also details how hair type--the only options discussed are straight or curly--is determined by the shape of the hair follicle. (Duh.) 
What I found most interesting was the fact that there is lots of research going on right now to develop a way to control the hair's shape. "Wouldn't it be great if you took a pill and your hair turned curly?" a doctor asks at the end of the article. Hmmmm.

This was followed by 59 comments, most of which were people chiming in, "Oh, whew! I thought I was the only one whose hair changed randomly!" or "Wow, I too had frustratingly curly hair that I terribly wanted to go straight. Then when I hit 30, it loosened up!" or "My hair used to drive me nuts it was so curly/straight. Then it changed. Now I embrace it, blah, blah." Only one comment mentioned the racially offensive way the article addresses "all Americans" in regard to daily hair washing. 

Funny thing: not once in the article itself is ethnicity/race mentioned in relation to hair texture, even when discussing heredity/genetics. And Jody Butler, who was quoted as saying that her hair and her kids' hair had changed from straight to curly and back again? She's white. They don't even have to say it. I have never heard of a black or mixed race person talk about hair going from "curly to straight" just like that, without the help of chemicals. 

If race had been a consideration in this hair article, this would be an entirely different article.  

Keep on the lookout--maybe one of the next articles will bravely venture into the ethnic hair discussion. I have my doubts...