Local student makes waves as new male face of curly-hair movement

Illustration by Amelia Madarang

These days at Lewis & Clark, I am often recognized by my signature golden ringlets. Students and professors alike call out to me in the academic quad from hundreds of yards away when they spot my luscious, bountiful locks. Rumor has it that an outbound LC administrator is having a wig made to look just like my hair, although I am not sure how legitimate that is. I mean, I can not blame him for wanting to look this good. 

However, my hair has not always been so noteworthy.

“The hair chooses the icon, Michael,” my hairdresser Anita once told me. I was 19 years old and it was the first time my hair fell below my eyes. Dry, damaged and formless, each lock of hair soy-curled down my face.  

I remember it like it was yesterday. The pitter-patter of rain was knocking outside my Manzanita dorm. My favorite indie song, “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, was playing. As I sat at my desk, pontificating to my roommates about why I was easily the most liberal person at LC, my friend Tara walked through the door.

Her damp hair dripped onto the vomit-infused turquoise carpet. 

“Oh, I’m so glad I washed my hair,” Tara said. “It was disgusting.” 

My roommates and I nodded in agreement. Tara had taken to showering less than three times a week to conserve water, mindlessly following the environmental studies rhetoric like all of the other sustainability-minded sheep. 

“You mean you don’t wash your hair every day?” To my surprise and masculine dismay, they did not nod in baseless agreement.

“You have curly hair! Don’t you know how bad that is for it?” Lindsay asked incredulously. 

“I bet he doesn’t even use conditioner,” Colin muttered to Tara. I shook my head and looked at the floor, rubbing my withered mane. 

As a white boy who had had a crew cut all his life, I was embarrassingly misguided. I saw the world through my daily 6-in-1 shampoo and Axe body wash colored glasses. The effortless, disheveled look was in vogue for many decades thanks to male leads who embody white culture, such as Heath Ledger and Chad Michael Murray. However, it was only a matter of time before the styles changed again.

That fateful day, Tara introduced me to the Curly Girl Method. Once I learned to scrunch, plop and twist, my curls were unstoppable. 

Blinded by years of minimal upkeep and mediocre personal grooming habits, I was unable to see the truth that the great Lorraine Massey, the one and only prophet of the Curly Girl Method Handbook, had been spreading throughout this ever tangling world. 

These methods were unprecedented. No other group in society had passed down generational knowledge about how to preserve their hair’s natural texture and beauty and faced oppressive, hegemonic norms in order to do so. 

It was not long before I grew tired of the white, Christian females that were bombarding my YouTube recommendations. I became delirious from getting up at 4 a.m. before work to perform the intricate hair rituals that these women promised would bring me new-found confidence. 

I found myself growing bitter over the prices of the products she was suggesting. Every week there seemed to be a new “it” product that everyone swore would solve all of my tangly problems. I had never spent more than three dollars on shampoo, conditioner and body wash combined. Now I was paying two hundred dollars per quarter for specialized haircuts and hair products alone. That is when I realized I needed to share my story.

From that day on, the Curly Girl Movement had a new face, a new leader to look up to. Move over 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team, this is the greatest underdog story in the history of mankind. From being systematically underrepresented in the curly hair community, I found myself transformed into the role models I had always lacked growing up.

“Young boys regularly come up to me on campus for my autograph and a sample of my new 12-step program of Furling Foreskin hair products,” Mulrennan said. “Embracing my identity as a Curly Hair man is how I resist. It is how I make the world a safer, more inclusive place for young, pale boys that look just like me.

Several students gathered in protest of my entrepreneurial efforts. One picket sign held by a Black woman even said: “I shouldn’t have to be holding up this sign right now.”

No further comment. 

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