Curly Hair Is Ugly
Where a series acts like having curls is negative, or a character gets mocked for their hair
Curly hair has a history of being seen as "messy" or "unruly". According to stereotypes and media, "proper" or "attractive" people don't have curly hair. Curly hair is often described as "messy looking", as it's harder to keep tied up and harder to shape into a completely symmetrical style than straight hair. A person's hair often is portrayed as a reflection on their mind or morals, as seen (less negatively) in other tropes: Quirky Curls for a free spirit, Einstein Hair for an absent-minded professor, Wild Hair for someone "uncivilized", etc. Due to backlash against depicting characters with curly hair as unattractive, this is becoming a Dead Horse Trope when played seriously. Most examples will be of other characters judging people for their curly or kinky hair. However, the undesirability of curly hair is still unironically noticeable in Makeover Montage, where the geeky or unattractive characters straightens their hair and loses the glasses to reveal that they were Beautiful All Along. This trope also pops up unironically in countries where naturally curly hair is rare and is thus subject to Values Dissonance when people from countries where it isn't view the work. Contrast with Quirky Curls and Unkempt Beauty, where curly hair is usually a more positive trait.
ExamplesAnime and Manga
- In One Piece, Luffy gets an afro wig for a boxing match, to very mixed reactions. The more conventionally fashion-aware characters found it horrendous.
- Tomohiro from A Silent Voice has been mocked for years for having very curly hair. He takes pride in it though.
- In early chapters of Gintama, Gintoki is often mocked for his naturally curly hair, and apparently he himself wants straight hair.
- In one Yo-kai Watch episode a youkai called Furdinand causes everyone's hair to grow. Nate starts out with messy medium-length Anime Hair before it becomes a Funny Afro. Nate freaks out and his friends tease him for it and say it looks like a shrub, meatball, and helmet.
- This is a big subplot for Princess Adrienne in Princeless, since the very first scene shows her mother attempting to tame her Funny Afro and as a young adult she keeps straightening it. This finally culminates in an issue where she faces this directly and shows a flashback to her getting her hair done and the hairdressers complaining about getting her while her sister Angelica is "the one with the good hair" (i.e naturally straight). At the end of that issue she gives herself an Important Haircut and cuts it short to symbolize her coming to terms with it.
- Played with in The Boondocks. Given the fact most characters are black, curly hair isn't shown negatively. In fact Huey has a big afro and Riley has a short but still curly cut (changed to cornrows in the cartoon). The half-white Jazmine however doesn't like her frizzy hair. She wishes she had straight hair like her mother.
- Annie from Little Orphan Annie faces bullying due to her curly, red hair.
- In The Simpsons Movie, Ned Flanders dishes his younger son for his curly hair.
Todd: I wish Homer was my father.Ned: And I wish you didn't have the devil's curly hair.
- The Princess Diaries has Mia getting her frizzy, messy curls straightened to fit a more "princess-like" look, instead of simply making her hair neater or changing the style.
- Malcolm X opens with a scene showing that black people in the mid-20th century used a very dangerous chemical to straighten their hair so they could look more like white people.
- The documentary Good Hair by comedian Chris Rock is about this trope and how it affects African-American women.
- A Wrinkle in Time: After years of being mocked about it, Meg, an multiracial character, is very self-conscious about her puffy, curly hair. When another character tells her he thinks her hair is awesome, she's clearly confused and taken aback, because it's a feature she dislikes about herself. In a scene where she is offered the chance to go back as a more popular, confident version of herself, the "perfect" version of Meg is shown to have long, straight hair and doesn't wear glasses like the current version of Meg.
- In Harry Potter Hermoine isn't described as being pretty until she straightens her unruly curly hair and and dresses up for the first time. Before that a big deal was made over just how bushy her hair is.
- The picture book Nappy Hair is about a little African-American girl who is ashamed of her tightly-curled hair, leading to the Aesop that she should accept and love it because it's exactly the hair God wanted her to have.
- Sesame Street has a skit, "I Love My Hair", specifically to avert this view in Real Life (more specifically, towards young black girls).
- Zoey 101:
- Chase is constantly mocked for his "Jew Fro" (the actor had naturally curly black hair).
- Averted by his roommate Logan however, who is supposed to be conventionally attractive and has hair with a curl.
- The children's rock opera Princess Beans Messy World has the eponymous Princess Bean decide to enter a princess pageant, where she is told that she doesn't stand a chance of winning unless she changes her "free spirited" look. This includes straightening her hair... by tying rocks into it.
- Not Always Working: These workers apparently believe this, at least they justify trying to grab a woman's hair as she walks past by saying they're "just trying to help you get rid of those ugly curls!"
- South Park: Kyle has very curly hair, in an exaggerated "jewfro", and he is somewhat ashamed by that. In one episode he is listed among the ugliest boys in school which may or may not be related to his hair, though his hat covers it up.
- There's a controversial Winx Club scene where curly hair is used as the pun of a joke. An Ambiguously Brown girl's straight hair turns into an afro. She reacts in horror and begins tearing up, while the other characters clearly are disgruntled by the fact her hair is now kinky. It doesn't help the implications that the scene before it involved characters cooing over a blonde character's straight hair. 4kids noticed the scene wouldn't fly in America so they changed the context to it in their dub. The redone version is instead about how the girls voice magically changed instead of her hair.
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