Choosing Straight : Too Many Options For Hair Styling
Three days ago, my straightening iron broke. Oh well, I thought as the little red light blinked but the plates stubbornly refused to heat. After all, I had purchased the big brick-like thing in freshman year of high school. Now I could get a new one. Sounds simple.
Little did I know that somewhere in the six year span of high school to college, it seems the tiny elves or whoever is in charge of flat-iron production decided to manufacture about 111,000 more products for me to select from than I had when I bought my first one.
I understand that if there was a scale that measured importance of life decisions, this one would rank somewhere right under what brand of floss to buy and the first world problem meter would be going crazy. But when I typed “hair straightener review” into google to do a little research and got my two million results in .23 seconds, I knew if I was going to do any research at all it was not going to be little.
Gone are the days where simply deciding on a price range and buying a product out of a selection of one or two different versions was possible. It’s not even an option to buy socks, or face-wash without wondering which of 700 kinds of fabric is better or if suzie878’s review was right that the face-wash is bound to make you break out in terrible boils.
Now when I have fifty dollars to spend and the internet at my fingertips, I wade through information on titanium plates, ion technology, steam powered tools, wet to straight options, 10% off coupons if I buy in the next ten minutes, as many negative reviews as positive reviews on exactly the same flat-iron, Nano-ceramic plates, humidity eliminators, 450 degree and up options, and everything else under the sun. Or just very hot stuff. In the end, I was so overwhelmed by straighteners I couldn’t keep my facts straight.
Before I ripped all my hair out and had none left to straighten, I decided everything I had just read was a glorified way of saying, hey, this is a hair straightener, it fries your hair flat at uncomfortably high temperatures. So I decided to do the old fashioned thing and actually go to the store to buy one without looking it up, and just be satisfied with whatever I ended up with. Which ended up with me realizing this is another thing that became exponentially more difficult to do in the six years since I’d bought one.
I am usually good at deciding things. I’m in an out of clothing stores in twenty minutes tops, can plan a night out in a spontaneous minute,and I only have trouble at restaurants when every item on the menu looks equally as delicious as the next. Yet there I found myself in TJMaxx faced with a veritable mountain of flat-irons, doing a comic-like move where I had one straightener in each hand, looking back and forth between the two like a bobblehead in a pickup truck. Physically going to the store had narrowed down my options of straighteners from about two million to twenty, but I still could not choose. Every iron claimed to do the exact same thing, in slightly differing ways.
I eventually bought two, feeling the need to explain to the cashier that no, I’m not a crazy dual-wielding hair straightener lady, I’m just planning to return the one I like the least. The problem was when I got home and tried them both, they both did exactly the same thing. They sizzled my hair from it’s usual “I just stuck my hand in an electric socket” waviness into an acceptably straight fashion.
So I did what every mature adult does who needs to make a decision, and played eenie meenie minie moe. Great. Problem solved. Except for the problem still sticking in my mind – is having too many choices a bad thing?
I’m not saying we should go back times when if you needed a car your only choice was a model-T or hitching a ride on the nearest locomotive. But I think I missed exactly when we went from, “you’ve got options” to “you’ve got so many options that you will grow old and wrinkly by the time you can look at them all.” I don’t claim to know why companies do what they do. But I for one would be happy if they toned it down and offered one or two perfected products instead of offering so many different types that I could build myself my own hair straightener castle.
In this “even if you choose you lose” type society where every option trumps the next, I’m trying to get back to that 9th grade mindset where I just picked whatever I needed at the time, and didn’t worry about all the “could have beens.” Because if you sweat the small stuff, you’ll sweat the big stuff more, and then have to try to choose from the five-billion different types of available deodorant.