Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Is Natural?

From the ages of 14-20, I went to sleep every night with my wet hair wrapped around orange juice cans to make it straight. Then from the ages of 49-52, I patiently blew out my hair and, thanks to the advances of modern technology, I applied a straightening iron to my still steaming follicles. And today, I've had enough; I am sick of frying my hair to a crisp in the constant battle against curls.

I gave up. I gave in.

I got out of the shower and left my flat iron unplugged.

I left the house au natural with my curls fluttering in the early summer breeze.

My return to curly hair got me thinking about the Natural Movement. I realized that despite the excess that has led to the current environmental crisis, there have been a few movements throughout America's history when we have collectively gone back to basics and focused our energies on cultivating a greater awareness of conservation, recycling, and the natural state.

One moment in time, was of course when President Theodore Roosevelt pushed for conservation in the early years of 20th century. Thanks to Teddy, America was the first country to implement a national parks program that ensured parcels of land all over the country would always remain in their natural state and never be clear cut or developed.

Another memorable moment when Americans were very committed to recycling and reuse was the Depression Era during the late 1920's. The extreme poverty during this time made Americans much more aware of how many items that we consider disposable and good for only one time use could be reused or retooled for other purposes. Tinfoil was washed, smoothed out, and used again. Old curtains became the material for a new dress, a la Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With The Wind." While the Depression was a very low point in America's history, the scarcity of this era made Americans infinitely more resourceful.

Twenty years later, Americans rallied around a common cause, World War II. They again relied on their capacity to be resourceful with the available materials. There was also a resurgence of recycling. All types of scrap metal, which in another time would have been left to rust in the junkyard, was collected to fashioned into airplanes. And with the rise in popularity of planting Victory Gardens, we also became a little more environmentally aware.

Then came a movement that perhaps some of you reading this blog took part it yourselves- the hippie movement of the 1970's. Along with messages of peace and free love was the promotion of living in harmony with the natural world instead of always warring against it and dominate over it.

It seems as though there's a pattern when it comes to our modes of consumption; the only time we can be bothered to focus on what is natural and friendly to the Earth is when we are faced with a crisis. I'm not a strident activist who only wears clothing made from hemp. However, I do believe that slightly shifting the way we live and consume can make the difference in our quality of life while at the same time curbing our frenzy for consuming, at least in a small way. Just the fact that my flat iron is sitting under the sink made a difference in my day. I had a little more time to sit down and read the morning paper and, as an added benefit, by not plugging in the flat iron, I was consuming less energy.

It really was a piece of cake...


1 comment:

DivaDeb said...

Isn't it funny how those with straight hair want it curly, and those with curly hair want it straight??? I would give my eye teeth for your beautiful natural Raphael-ite curls, Rosanna!