Nancy Giles: What's so polarizing about hair?

U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas celebrates after she won the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the London 2012 Olympic Games Aug. 2, 2012. AFP/Getty Images

(CBS News) Remember "Hair," the musical? Curtain going up on Nancy Giles' thoughts -- on hair.

So here's the thing about hair: If it's straight, you want it curly. If it's curly, you want it like Cher. The color's never right. The length is off. Whatever it is, we wish it was different.

And have you noticed how everyone has an opinion about it? Even if it's about 16-year-old Gabby Douglas, the first black woman to win Olympic gold for the USA as an all-around gymnast. Made you want to stand up and cheer, right? Wrong. Instead, social media buzzed with snarky remarks about her hair. And some of the snark came from black women. Things like "she needs some gel and a brush," "time for a hair intervention." Really? Seriously?

Gabby Douglas goes glam in magazine photo shoot
Gabby Douglas chats royals, food with Jay Leno
Gabby Douglas leaving London with celebrity gold

Why are we all so hung-up on hair?

Maybe it's all those commercials telling us the only hair to have is straight and shiny and always blowing in the wind. But for some of us, that look is hard to achieve without chemicals, hair weaves, extensions or even wigs.

I always wanted different hair. And here's the proof. Dig this. Notebook after notebook of my elementary-school doodles of the Marlo Thomas "That Girl" hairdo, bangs and flip. It was like an archeological discovery of my deep-rooted hair dissatisfaction. And then, things changed.

Remember the late '60s and '70s, when afros were hip, proud and sexy?

I remember my first afro, and I still have one, thick and proud, but it wasn't always that way. Conventional wisdom was that straight hair was neater, more professional-looking. So I tried that relaxed-hair look. (Apparently my hair was "tense.") I tried braid extensions. Woo! Hair that moves! But it still didn't feel right. Seventeen years ago, I cut out all the fake and started from scratch.

When I saw a "Sesame Street" video, written by a dad for his daughter, a video that's gotten almost four million hits on YouTube, it made me so happy because kids today will watch this and love their hair, whatever kind of hair it is.

(Watch the video below)

Meet Anu Prestonia, owner of Khamit Kinks in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"You're one of the only people I see on TV with your hair looking like this," Prestonia told me.

This is a salon where hair doesn't get straightened. And women come here from all over the country for natural hair care and philosophical discussions.

"I think somehow we're taught that we, we're not good enough just the way we are," Prestonia said.

Don't they listen to the Billy Joel song? "I love you just the way you are."

And more and more people are doing just that. You can see it on the streets, in advertising, even celebrities are loving their hair every kind of way.

Every follicle, every texture, every style.

So feel good about it. Love your hair just the way it is.

Comments