Does This Hair Make Me Look Fat?

Yesterday, Tyra Banks kicked off her new season of talk shows by appearing for the first time on camera without her weave. She walked onto her stage in a simple black outfit and wet, slicked back hair, declaring the occasion National Real Hair Day.

Check out the footage here.

Now, Tyra can basically rock any hairstyle. Among them:

Crazy-high hair
Crimped hair
Bangs
The blonde look 
Even a chrome dome 

She’s always been forthright about wearing wigs or weaves. To be honest, I was expecting something much different would be seen on yesterday’s show – something very close-cropped or super-short. But when I saw her sans wigs, all I could think was, “She looks exactly how she looks in any beachy swimsuit photo!” Tyra looked great. Fake hair certainly elevates her look to glamazon status, but it does that for any woman who wears extensions. (This and this and this - all smoke and mirrors, people!)

All this hair talk got me thinking about how our hair affects out body image. I remember picking up a beauty mag as a high school student and seeing the headline, “Does your hairstyle make you look fat?” At the time, I didn’t realize one’s do could make or break one’s figure, but apparently it can. Indeed, many articles and web sites will tell you exactly how to style your tresses to maximize how you look in dresses. Long, thin hair can make your face look drawn, while bangs can plump up a face. Tall girls should beware of short hair, lest they want to look like giants or men. Short girls should steer clear of giant manes, which can overwhelm their petite frames. Having big hair will make your body look tinier in comparison. Blah, blah, blah.

But more important than the style is simply having hair, as Tyra and so many other women can attest to. Hair is a kind of security blanket; it makes us feel feminine and safe. When women lose their hair, be it from chemo or disease or medication, they nearly always report feeling sad, ugly, masculine. Of course, some women can feel empowered by it, but that’s usually when they choose to ditch their locks of their own volition. As someone with ultra-thin hair (I can hold all of my hair up with two Goody kiddie barrettes. No joke – I tried this weekend at my friend’s house with her toddler’s hair clips. Remember when I posted pics from the Today Show, showing how they tease/spray/pump my hair up?), I’ve always been jealous of my friends with long, lush hair. It takes your hair six hour to air dry naturally? Oh, boo hoo. My violins are playing for you. Puh-lease…I would trade my dries-before-I’ve-finished-applying-my-mascara do with you in a freaking heart beat! I know, the grass is always greener and we can’t have it all. (Some of those friends with gazillions of strands would probably kill for my height.) But yes, having a serious mane would make me feel prettier and more feminine, as it apparently does for Tyra, Jessica Simpson, J. Lo, Beyonce and the countless other celebs.

That said, I’m not gonna lose too much sleep over it. And I applaud Tyra for being brave, being vulnerable and continuing to show us what real women look like.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with my Clairol Lock N’ Roll spoodles.

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