Glamorouse

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The next big DNA discovery will be...

It's all very well to have discovered the genes that predict obesity and heart disease and the ability to orgasm, but when are they going to find the marker that makes us so unhappy with our own hair? Case in point: I have straight hair. Thick, fine, straight hair. I don't need a single product other than a blow dryer to make my hair so flat, straight and shiny that it could almost rate the catwalk, if it weren't attached to my whalewalk body, that is. Not that whales can walk, but you understand where I'm heading. So while electronic store catalogues are full of versions of the girlie-must-have-ceramic-straightener, I can toss my head of gloriously, naturally straight hair and flick right on by to the stainless steel dishwashers. Can you guess what my girlie-must-have-hair-appliance is? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with hurling bond, and swirling frond, and, oh fuck it, it's a curling wand because I HATE STRAIGHT HAIR. And I know this comes as no surprise to any woman who may stumble across this because I have never, ever, ever met a woman who was 100 per cent happy with her hair. If it's curly they want it straight and if it's straight they want it curly and if it's dark they want it blonde, or red, or a particularly unattainable shade of chestnut brown just like someone they saw in a magazine in a doctor's surgery one day when they were 15... I have a friend who is pleased to be a natural blonde, who is pretty happy with her straight hair, but who can't stand the fact that her hair just stops growing precisely one inch past her shoulders. I have a daughter - the Pea Princess - who is in my view blessed with hair that is straight on top, wavy at the sides and ringlets underneath. In other words, she can pretty much make it go any way she likes. At the age of SEVEN she already requests changes of style at least once a season - fringe to no-fringe, short to long, always tied back to always loose - and complains that brown hair is boring and looks like mud. I could hazard a guess that primitive woman spent a fair bit of evolutionary time down at the local still pond, rubbing in different berry-based concoctions and asking her friends whether her head fur looked better held back with mud or fluffed up with the lemur-bone comb. There is a terrific irony in the fact that I - and the sisterhood - are not only unhappy with our hair but so unhappy to be unhappy with it that we will spend countless hours and dollars trying to make it other than what it is in the hope that we will, at last, be happy with our lot. I think back fondly to 1988 and the spiral perm that cost me a week and a half's wages as a cadet journalist and lasted 10 days. My fond hope is that one day the Great Scientific Work of decoding DNA will not only produce a vaccine that lets you eat vast quantities of salt and peppper squid without getting fat, it will also produce a genetic switch that lets us all be happy with our hair. In a late, half-arsed attempt to link this rant to The Glamorouse Rousing Routine, Thursday is Library Day and this story from today's Sydney Morning Herald gives us a book by an Australian scientist about another use for DNA that made me smile.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/academic-falls-foul-of-mormons/2005/07/20/1121539033179.html

A molecular biologist at the CSIRO is facing excommunication from the Mormon Church after writing a book challenging its central teachings. Dr Simon Southerton was raised a believer but in 1998 abandoned the church of which he was a bishop - the equivalent of a parish priest - when he could not reconcile his faith with scientific research. A year ago he published a rebuttal of the Book of Mormon teachings which claim native American and Polynesians were descendants of Israelite tribes who had migrated to the Americas centuries before Christ. In Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church, Dr Southerton challenged the church to declare the Mormon scriptural text an "inspired fictional story". "The DNA evidence we have today clearly shows that native Americans and Polynesians are both descended from Asian ancestors," he told the Herald. He said more than 7000 native Americans had been DNA tested, proving 99 per cent of their DNA came from Asia.

Of course, it just means that if they haven't already, the Mormons will shortly have to discredit the validity of DNA and genetic testing. But people who think the word of God arrived in Bible pages made of gold and buried in an American hillside, that shouldn't be too big a leap. mtc Bec

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