Friday, April 04, 2008

Be content. Perm the face.

One of my most indelible memories of my Sociology Honours Class was a statement made by SH Heng.

We talked about hairstyles and were possibly looking at magazines. Then she said, "When we asked the hairdresser to 'perm that hair-style', we really mean to 'perm that face'."

Let me explain. Us Chinese girls in Singapore normally have straight, straight hair. We spend hideous amounts of money to have our hair 'permed' into all sorts of curly styles. Or we have a 'body perm' after which the hairdresser teases our hair into a shape similar to the picture we'd shown him/her.

However, our hair never looks like the way we walked out of the hairdressing salon again. No amount of gooey hair product and hair-dryer would get it back to the shape at the hairdresser.

SH hit the nail on the head though with her shrewd observation that we really want to have not just the hairstyle, but the face (and figure) of the model we were staring at.

Fast forward to 15 years ago when I first started working in this country. I must have remarked that someone looked really nice in a particular hair style. A church member responded with, "But everyone wants to have straight hair like you."

(At this point my hair had not touched perm solution for years and years.)

That was the first time I realized that lots of European (or 'Caucasian' as we call them in Singapore) women with 'wavy hair' aspire to straight hair like mine.

Then only did I notice that women, especially 'Asian' women (from Indian sub-continent, for readers in Singapore), were spending a lot of time and money having their hair straightened.

I had nearly forgotten about this when a young Ghanaian girl I know from my voluntary work at church came to me one day and said, "Have you noticed my hair?"

She had slicked her hair back.

"I made it straight. To look like you. I want to look like you."

I looked at her, reading glasses perched on my nose, "You will never look like me, dear. Why do you want to look like me?"

And so I was overwhelmed once again on how it is human to want to be like someone else.

I have straight hair, but for years I had my hair permed into different styles -- when really I wanted a different face.

This young lady with a beautiful physique, lovely glossy ebony skin with a thousand-watt smile that lights up the room, she wanted to have straight hair like me.

No, I said to her. God made her beautiful in his sight. There is no need to change because God does not make mistakes.

Even more recently one of the youths in our church said, "I am too tall. I wish I could stop growing."

"No, no, no!" I said. I know many girls who would die for the height she has (she IS still growing), but this girl thinks she is far too tall.

I said the same thing, God does not make mistakes. She is beautifully made as far as HE is concerned.

Perhaps she is afraid of the difficulty in finding a husband tall enough for her. I said, "Marry a short man clever enough to appreciate a tall woman."

So it is that pale-faced women wore rouge to give them some colour. I, too, bought this story that we should have red cheeks but instead turned a funny shade of orange!

And dark-skinned women try all sorts of tricks to make their skin look lighter.

The sheer amount of waste these days as plastic pots, tubes and canisters in cardboard boxes in even larger cardboard boxes transport these potions and creams over many miles so that men and women could look like someone else. Usually the complete opposite to their own good self.

Why bother?

Back to Organic-Ally.

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