Stone's new 1960's era role turns her straight strands curly, but not everyone loves them.

Skeeter's, Emma Stone, curly hair. Photo courtesy of DreamWorks.

I’m not really a movie goer myself, nor do I much pay attention to the newest crazes, fads and personalities in Hollywood, but Emma Stone has intrigued and amused even this curly. Her different beauty screams, “Je ne sais quoi,” and her seemingly laissez-faire attitude had me charmed even during “Superbad.”

All French clichés aside, Emma Stone is a fresh take on old Hollywood, and I willingly give up my Saturday nights to watch movies she’s in. So, it should come as no surprise that when I first saw the trailer for “The Help” starring Ms. Stone, I was stoked. Better yet, her straight strands turned curly for the role.

As history has it, women with curly hair are to Hollywood as Yankees are to the Deep South: outsiders. Hair has been straightened to show refinement, or curled to show rebellion. Rarely is a curly haired heroine present, and if she is, she is portrayed as strong-willed but messy and unruly. Knowing that history is the best teacher, I contained my excitement until I could figure out just who Stone’s leading character, Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, is.

Who is Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan?

The woman on the right's hair is the curliest it gets, besides Emma Stone's. Photo courtesy of DreamWorks.

As I expected, Skeeter is an outsider, but in a day and age where the 1960’s are no longer idealized — and a source of cultural embarrassment concerning how others were treated — she is a good outsider. Her curly hair set her apart from her less educated, extremely domesticated white female friends.

Skeeter is the only one with a college degree, and the only one without a husband. Her struggles to land a position doing what she loves, writing, has her back in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, in which she is ridiculed for her education, for her bare ring finger and for her curly hair.

However, Skeeter does find herself a position, as a domestic duties columnist, in which she discovers and embraces the opportunity to call out her white friends’ mistreatment of the black “help” they so insanely rely upon. In doing so, she calls attention to a problem that many wanted uncovered, and that others would fight to keep hidden.

However, for curlies like me, this movie is about more than a heroines adventure; it is about changing the status quo, whether you're black, white, curly or straight haired.

Media Reaction to Stone's Curly Hair

Unfortunately, large media corporations do not agree. A Fox News story titled, “Emma Stone Goes Frizzy for ‘The Help’: Who Has the Worst Movie Hair?” stated, “Skeeter is the nice one who can’t land a husband – and she also happens to be the reason why flat-irons were invented.”

Did you just gasp? Me too. And, we aren’t the only ones.

The story is generating comments stating, “Funny, I thought she looked much better with her hair curly.  What's with all these women and their long straight hair these days? Everyone looks alike,” and “Not sure what the problem is here. Since when is curly hair a bad thing? I think she looks pretty good!”

Obviously, Hollywood’s subliminal attempt at convincing the world that curls should be straightened to fit into cultural norms lured Fox News in. Thankfully, their readers weren’t as persuaded – and neither are we!

Finally, a curly female character who isn’t only an outsider, but ahead of her time, which makes her outsider position all the better.

Curly Heroines from Hollywood

Skeeter may be one of the only non-animated curly heroines who isn't considered unruly or improper, but animation was "Brave" enough to attempt it as well! Check it out!

Final thoughts

One qualm I do have with the film: why aren’t any of the black women curly? Unless all of those women let their natural hair loose at the end of the film, I’m confused about why the producer didn’t continue the curly-themed differentiation, and power, throughout.

So, has anyone seen it? Do they let their hair down in the end? Let me know.


Tracey Wallace

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I LOVED her curls! Im wondering what they used, besides a curling iron. Like directions to it. I simply loved it and can't wait to see the movie. :)

In an example of curly hair bashing, and straight hair glorifying as is typical of beauty magazines and Hollywood, read Allure magazine's take on it here: This beauty editor's favorite scene is the one where the curly hair is given a relaxer, calling it "transformative." I call that offensive.

Great comment, Coco; thanks!

There is a reason why the black female character did not wear their curly/natural hair. It's simply because they would not have been allowed to. If notice in the movie most of the maids wore wigs or some in tight bun. This was not because they preferred this hairstyles. It was because they would have been fired for being "unkempt" or "unclean" looking. I'm glad they chose to keep the subject away from hair. As an African American it would have been very disappointed to know they choose that route rather than focusing on the hardships of the maids and their families. We already have plenty of movies that focus on African American hair culture. Furthermore, this would have differed greatly from the book, and created a highly unrealistic scenario. Slaves were required to wear scarfs around their heads when working indoors, so the fact that the maids wore wigs made complete sense to me. However I realize it may seem odd to those who do not completely understand the history of African Americans and their hair.