Things I Could Have Done In The Amount Of Time It Takes To Straighten My Hair


I have very thick, wavy hair which I usually iron straight. I’ve left it natural for a few short stints in my life — a few months senior year of high school, a few days during freshman year of college and a couple weeks this summer. Even when I had a pixie cut sophomore year, I’d still blow dry and straighten the front into neat little segments.

A girl I dated used to mock me anytime I’d put straightener to tendril. “You’re succumbing to the patriarchy this morning, I see,” she’d tease. Which…Fair point.

I have spent so much of my life straightening my hair that I have started to actively resent it. I like the outcome, but I hate the process and I especially hate how careful it makes me. No one wants to be that girl shrieking in the rain about droplets ruining her hairdo. My sister had one of those chemical treatments but they’re freakin’ expensive and I a) don’t want to spend the money on something so frivolous and b) I want the option of having curly hair if I ever choose to leave it natural.

I did the math on how many hours of my life I’ve actually spent straightening my hair and oof, it’s depressing.

So I started straightening it when I was around 13 or 14. I am 24 now. That is 11 years of straightening, give or take. Let’s say I straighten my hair every other day. 365 x 11 = 4,015 days in 11 years. Every other day is 4,015 divided by 2 = 2007.5 days. If I straighten my hair for 1 hour every time I do it then I’ve spent more than 2,007 hours straightening my hour over the last 11 years.

MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND HOURS. That’s almost three months of my life spent in front of the mirror running an iron over my wavy locks.

Here’s what I could have done with those same hours:


Watched most of the AFI Top 100 Movies.

Learned beginner’s French.

Attended a session of summer camp.

Casually dated a new person.

Finished a level one improv class at Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater.

Sculpted some ab muscles.

Started a novel.

Painted at least 1,000 commercial art paintings.

Potty-trained a toddler.

Taken a Women’s Studies 101 course at the local university.

Became a certified nail technician.

Gotten rid of three addictions with three stints in 28-day rehab.

Became 20 percent an expert at anything, according to Malcolm Gladwell.

Read the collective works of William Shakespeare.

Finished watching all of New Doctor Who on Netflix.

Completed a first draft of an original screenplay.

Followed Phish on tour.

Grown a flowering strawberry plant on my fire escape.

Created and brewed my own beer.

Listened to the entire WTF with Marc Maron podcast library.

Built a computer from scratch using spare parts.

Wondered if ascribing to beauty norms is just a massive waste of time instituted to keep women from achieving success in the math and science fields or a conspiracy designed to sell, I don’t know, eyebrow pencil and low self-esteem.

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image – Gaby Dunn