A Complete Stranger Bought My Friend An Upgrade For A Flight (Because Of Her Hair!)

Behold Kristi's hair. I wish I had a shot that wasn't cropped, but you get the idea.

Here’s the deal: My friend Kristi has a weave. It’s a straight, bra-strap length weave that one of her PR clients, a celebrity hairstylist, hooked her up with just for fun. Kristi isn’t afraid to experiment—she’s had all kinds of hairstyles in the past. For example, when I met her in 2007, she had gorgeous locs. She eventually wanted a change so a few years ago she chopped them off and got a short asymmetrical cut, kind of like the one Rihanna used to have. Then about a year ago she got the weave. I had drinks with Kristi recently and we were talking about what it’s like to make dramatic hair changes. I know a little something about that myself because I wore my hair in an Afro for about seven years before I started relaxing it again four years ago. When you go from one look to something completely different, it makes you realize just how much your image effects the way people treat you. Especially men.

“The dudes in suits talk to me now. They didn’t when I had locs. The privileges you get with long, straight hair are endless,” Kristi told me. I asked her to elaborate and the example she gave me is a doozy.

About a month after Kristi got the weave, she was at the airport, waiting to board a Virgin Atlantic flight from New York to London for work. She was standing in line at the gate, hoping to change her seat. Kristi said she wasn’t used to her hair yet and it was bothering her. She kept playing with it and tossing it, trying to get comfortable and she noticed that she had caught the eye of the gentleman standing in line behind her—a white guy that looked like a frequent business traveler. When Kristi got to the front of the line, she asked the agent if there were any free upgrades available. The answer was no so she stepped to the side to organize her carry-on. Next thing she knows, she was told that the man behind her had paid for her to move up from premium economy class to the upper class section of the plane!

“I thought ‘What do I do next? Do I talk to him?’ I sat right next to him on the flight and we chatted for a few hours. He ended up giving me his number,” Kristi said. The man was nice and not overly flirtatious with her at all. After the trip, she never spoke to him again.

Now, obviously she didn’t ask the guy why he upgraded her, but it’s safe to assume it was simply because she’s a pretty girl. A pretty girl with long, straight hair. He wanted her company and he had the means to get it. Kristi felt pretty sure it had everything to do with the hair because she flies all the time and nothing like this had never happened to her before. I didn’t even challenge her on that because as crazy as it sounds, I know she’s right. I had a weave once too. It was about the same texture and length as Kim Kardashian’s hair. Wearing that weave was a real eye-opener–I’ve never been ogled so much in my life. And I definitely don’t get those kind of stares now with my shoulder-length cut. Not that I miss all the leering on the subway.

Me and Kristi in 2007

But it taught me that before the weave, I was invisible to some guys and didn’t even know it. As Kristi put it: “Ideally every woman’s hair would get attention and be considered beautiful, but men love long hair. They’re programmed to think that long hair equals beauty, sexiness and femininity. They don’t care if it’s real, fake, pony, donkey or ostrich—they love it!”

She went on to say that the upgrade experience shocked her and also made her wonder if the “looks don’t matter” speech she heard growing up was a bunch of B.S. “Is everything about how you look and how long your hair is? If so, my mom was way off. She always told me it was about being smart, not pretty,” said Kristi.

I don’t believe that every man on the planet is shallow or only interested in women with long hair–I met my boyfriend with my hair in a messy bun. But generally speaking, cascading hair is considered to be more desirable. Evidence of that is everywhere (magazines, Disney movies, Victoria’s Secret catalogues, music videos) and has been since who knows when. No woman is immune to that bias, not even A-list actresses. When discussing her pixie cut with Elle UK last year, Michelle Williams said that “Straight men across the board are not into this hair!”

Although the long hair beauty standard is nothing new, Kristi’s story floored me so much that I just had to share. If you have an outrageous tale of your own, feel free to blab in the comments section below. And check out what short-haired girls have to deal with on a regular basis–it’s funny/sad!

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Sh*t People Say To Women With Super-Short Hair

Does Halle's short cut make her look less feminine? No way!

Not that we need another one of those Sh*t People Say YouTube videos, but if I were going to make one, it would be inspired by all the annoying things that have actually been said to short-haired women that I know.

Hair is probably the number one issue that comes up when I talk with other women about beauty and it can be such an emotional, frustrating or political subject depending on who I’m chatting with. My sister Chizanya and I were recently talking about hair and we got on the topic of how she loves her nearly-bald head, but never imagined that she would be confronted with such ignorant remarks because it’s so short. I asked two other women with cropped cuts—my friend Lindsay and my sister-in-law Chelsea—about their experiences and they co-signed what Chizanya said. People say some stupid sh$t! One thing all three women mentioned is that they have been mistaken for a man on more than one occasion even if they were wearing girly clothing and/or jewelry. Here’s what they told me:

Chizanya: “I was wearing large earrings, which I always do, and a waiter came up behind me and [my husband] Grant and asked: ‘Gentlemen are you ready to order?’ When I turned he was horrified and our service was awkward the rest of the night!”

 

Chelsea: “When I worked at a department store, there were several occasions where little girls and boys would see me, turn to their moms and say, ‘Mommy, is that a boy or a girl?’ I always laughed it off but it confused me because I wore a dress or skirt and makeup to that job almost every day. It didn’t matter what I was wearing. One of my other favorite comments is,  ’Your hair is so short!’ I never have understood what my reaction to that is supposed to be. It doesn’t seem to be a compliment. I almost think that people worry when they look at me they’re going to lose all their hair. I also get ‘You look like Ellen Degeneres’ a lot. Again, not sure if this is a compliment or if people are questioning my sexuality because I have short hair and I’m a woman.”

Lindsay:  ”I usually wear earrings, because I am quite tall and broad, but I still get called ‘sir’ often. There was this one time when I was mistaken for a man while on my way to the club with my girlfriends. My hair was much like it is now.  It was fall, so I had on a jacket, but I was wearing high heeled boots that came up to my knee, with a skirt that had slits up both sides.  This guy stopped me on the street and tried to kick it to me. And right after he asked for my number, his friend goes, ‘Yo, that’s a dude!’  I replied to the friend that I was most definitely a woman, and he apologized, but was clearly a little confused.  It has always been shocking to me to realize that people may not perceive me as I identify myself, even though it has happened a lot.”

I understand that above-the-ears haircuts have a boyish vibe, but what about the total picture–the facial features, makeup, accessories and clothes? When people see someone, do they really only determine gender based on that person’s hair? Maybe so, but partly because they’re just not paying attention. I wonder if long-haired guys have to put up with being called “ma’am” all the time.

Do you have short hair? What’s the most absurd thing someone has said about your cut? If you don’t have short hair, have you ever thought about getting a major cut? Do tell.

 

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Pretty in Print: Viola Davis Channels Old Hollywood in Entertainment Weekly

I was flipping through the new issue of EW, and stopped on this gorgeous picture of Viola Davis. We all know what a beast of an actress she is, but on the big screen she never gets to look this glamorous.

Photo: Sam Jones for EW

Not only does Viola look stunning in this vintage-y photo shoot, but she also looks so happy. And she should—the woman is having an amazing year thanks to the Oscar buzz she’s getting for her excellent-as-usual performance in The Help (I haven’t seen it, but critics have been raving). Viola’s roles are usually complex and full of depth and emotion—that’s what I love about them—but I love seeing her show off her elegant beauty. Add her to the list of 0ver-40-years-old actresses that are shining this award season. Bravo!

 

What do you think of Viola’s retro look? Have you ever attempted 1940s-inspired hair like hers? 

 

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