Why We Should Reconsider The Phrase “Effortless” Hair

Faith Xue

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a NYFW hair trend I had dubbed “naked" hair. The look is the antithesis of a traditional round-brush blowout—slightly mussed up, textured, with just a hint of wave, but still more or less straight. Other publications have covered different variations of this trend under other monikers: T Magazine called it “meh head,” Refinery 29 wrote a response to that and dubbed it “non-hair,” and, more recently, The Cut labelled this undone look as “rich girl hair." Clearly, this “effortless” sort of look is trending, which is a huge blessing for many women—myself included. Gone are the days where I would feel the need to flatten my thick strands with a straightener (hours wasted, I tell you—hours), or spend precious sleep-time taming my hair with a curling iron. Now, I can proudly toss my air-dried strands and beam as people compliment me on my hair’s “great texture.”

But the thing is—and, I mentioned this briefly in my original post—this laissez-faire approach to hair only results in the runway-approved final result for a select few. A very select few. The ever-effortless Caroline de Maigret, for example, or, as T Magazine says, women like Jane Birkin, who “had the luxury of being not only rich and rail thin, but also of looking intoxicatingly good without either makeup or bras.” Which is great and all, except what about women who don’t just roll out of bed with straight, barely-tousled strands? What about curly-haired women, or women with thick, coarse hair, or African-American women? If these women employed the same Birkin-inspired, wash-and-go method, their final look would result in a distinctly different effect—a just-as beautiful effect, but a different one nonetheless. And yet, it isn’t likely you’ll see this version of natural hair on the runways. Instead, if you venture backstage, you’ll likely find most models’ hair straightened, bent, and tamed to mimic the texture of Birkin and de Maigret, rather than styled in a way to accentuate their own. (Here’s proof.)

It’s easy to use words and phrases like “natural,” “undone,” “effortless,” and even “rich girl” without really taking the time to weigh in what they mean, who they are referring to, and more importantly, what they are implying. I’m not letting myself off the hook, either (yes, I’m fully aware I used the word “effortless” at least three times in my own “naked” hair story—guilty!). But, I do think it’s important to address the issue head on and hear all sides of discussion. After all, if effortless, “rich girl” hair looks a certain way, how would we describe any hair texture that doesn’t fall into that camp?

What do you think of the “naked,” “non-hair,” “meh-head” trend? Is it harmless or do you have issues with it? Tell me your thoughts below!

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