The Mane Conflict: Hair Curly or Straight?

When it comes to jobs and men, does it matter?

ByABC News via GMA logo
August 12, 2008, 2:34 PM

Aug. 12, 2008 — -- Curly versus straight. That, my friends, is the question.

Or, more specifically, why do women with curly hair feel the need to straighten it? Is it because they get treated or perhaps perceived differently with a smooth, straight look?

First impressions count, but we wanted to see if anyone really noticed or even cared. Does it really make a difference?

From the time I was a tot, my curly hair has been my identity -- I was the girl with big curly hair. Braces never fazed me, but the hair was always a big concern.

Like so many women with curly tresses, I routinely head to the salon to have it straightened. Celebrities do it with ease, but for the rest of us, it can take hours and cost hundreds of dollars.

So why then are so many women with curly hair addicted to their flat iron? To find out, I conducted an unscientific social experiment in New York City.

I had a photographer take my picture once with curly hair, and then once with it straight. I then had the photographer take pictures of eight actresses.

Then we brought in five men to rate the pictures -- the eight actresses, and me. We told the panel we were working with a company that was looking for the new face of a clothing line. They were to describe each picture with a single word as well as rate them from one to ten -- ten being the woman they would most like to date.

When the picture of me with curly hair came up, the scores were not very generous -- a three was involved -- and the words to describe me were "teacher," "warm," "average," "frazzled" and "giddy."

"She looks to me like she's trying to get a husband really fast," one of the men said.

After they rated a few actresses, my picture came up again, but this time I had straight hair.

This time, though, three out of the five men gave me higher marks. They used words like "classic," "pretty," "nice," "centered" and "friendly." My total score jumped from 25 out of 50 to 31 out of 50.

After the ratings were done, I asked one man who had given me a five during the first round why he had bumped me up, all the way to a seven, when I had straight hair.