Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hair, hair, long beautiful hair ....

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzySnaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy, shining
Gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted;
Twisted, beaded, braidedPowdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled and spaghettied!

Goodness knows we're been fascinated by and nearly obsessed with hair since ... well since the dawn of time. Cavemen and woman used bones and shells to decorate their hair. Greeks colored and frosted their hair with gold flakes. Humans have (as the song from Hair says) played with, decorated, twisted, curled, dyed, fried, burned, bleached, straightened, braided, twisted and tangled.

HAIR. Darn if we don't have an emotional attachment to the stuff. Don't agree? Then consider the amount of time we spend taking care of it, worrying about how it looks, whether it's thinning or falling out, coloring, grooming and absent mindedly fondling it. Yeah, we have a thing for hair. But why?

Well, to be honest, the significance of a full head of glorious hair is more than just emotional. Just about every culture on Earth, both present and past, attach some degree of social significance to hair. It cab be a symbol of strength or virility, of affluence or class, or a sexually attractive trait. And it's always been that way. If you don't believe it then consider the following examples from the pages of history.

The Egyptian Pharaoh: First let's face it. It's hot in Egypt. Really hot. And it was hot 1000 years ago and 4000 years ago. Fittingly in days of yor, most Ggyptians wore their heads shaved. Hey, it's a practical way of dealing with exteme desert heat. But not so with the Pharaoh. Oh no, when the big cheese was in ceremonial dress he wore elaborate wigs made from human hair and dressed out in locks and braids. The Pharoah's son usually had one lock of hair uncut in the center of his head that he wore in a bun and no one else was allowed to wear their hair that way. Under pain of death. (Personally I wouldn't have objected. I mean really, it is THAT attractive of a style?)

Samson:Everyone knows the story of Samson and his long tresses so there's no need to repeat that one. But the tale did ascribe superhuman strength to long hair (and perhaps sex appeal?)

Caesar: Julius Caesar (said in my best Bond voice). Here was a man terrified of his hair loss. It's been written that his extreme embarrassment of his receding hairline was the reasoned he introduced the fashion of a laurel crown (to hide his high forehead). And then there's the little matter of him forcing his defeated enemies to either shave their head or cut their hair very close to the scalp. I guess he thought if if he had longer hair than they he'd seem more powerful (like conquering half of Europe didn't accomplish that!)

Married and nmarried Women in Imperial China: A girl who was unmarried usually wore her hair long and braided. Married women combed their hair back from the forehead and wound it into a knot at the nape of the neck. Thus the marital status of a woman could be easily determined. Additionally, a girls' hair heavily influenced their value in the marriage market. You weren't as good marriage material without long, luxerious veyr black hair.

Japanese: In Medieval Japan, Samurai would cut their hair when defeated. Even today, Sumo wrestlers have a "hair cutting" ceremony when they retire! In Japan, cutting hair was a symbol of defeat and lost of honor, very similar to the honorable Harakiri (ritual suidiceceremonial suicide). The women of samurai families cut their hair and sometimes even became nuns when she had to part from her loved one, and Japanese girls cut their hair when they had their heart broken!.

Louis the Fourteenth, King of France:King Louis XIV, the Sun King. The inventor of Ballet and Tennis, was also a vain peacock of a King. When he started to lose his hair he started a whole new fashion (yes, in addition to silk vests and high heels for men) - the Male wig. Louis' wings were quite elaborate. So much so that they were built on a wire frame, and more often than not, consisted of three heads of hair in one wig! (and what hideous things they were in my opinion. Big beehive things that just looked nasty.)

The Plains Indians: Male warriors wore their hair long among the Plains Indians in Northern America. (Yes, I'm feeling a Yumm coming on because along-side Cowboys, this gals loves loves loves the look of the Native American male.) Hair was decorated with feathers and beads, and Chiefs wore large featherhead dresses with additional locks of hair and strings of beads hanging from them, which were considered to be highly impressive.

What could be one of the most telling signs on the significance of hair was the practice of scalping. Scalping was practiced not only by the Native Americans, but also by the ancient Scythians of Eurasia. In 440 BC, the Greek historian, Herodotus wrote " the Scyth is proud of these scalps and hangs them from his bridal rein. The greater the number, the more highly esteemed he is among his people."

According to the sources of Abbott Emmanuel H.D. Domenche, whose sources included the decalvare of the ancient Germans, the capillos et cutem detrahere of the code of the Visigoths and the Annals of Flodoard, scalps were also taken in wars between the Visigoths, the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons in the 9th century.

Talk about a "thing" for hair!!!

And how about the Rastafarian Dreadlocks? Dreadlocks may be the most significant indicator of the Rastafarian social and religious movement. They express their spiritual beliefs by wearing locks.

Oh, and then there's the practice of shaving the head? Most Monks of most religions, as well as Nuns of the Buddhist faith, shave their head as a symbol of releasing the vanities of the material life. The fact that the vanity involved in hair is so embedded in the human mind is definitely a factor in these vows. Simplicity means having no hair to be vain about, the Buddhist Monks and Nuns say. I say honey take a look at the Captain of the Enterprise, Jean Luc Picard. He didn't have much hair but the man still is smokin'!!

Finishing up here, I'll turn the attention to the Cowboy. (Yeah, you know I "gots to have me some cowboys" in here somewhere.) One unspoken reason for the famous Cowboy Hat? It covered a balding head. Cowboys embodied the most masculine and virile male archetype, so naturally they battled hair loss with as much verve. The most hardened and tough woul stand in line to spend their hair earned money on "Snake Oil" - hair growing tonics that were peddled by folks in the wild west medicine shows. Cowboys used the trick of rubbing grease in their hair to make it look thicker.

What this trek through history means, I think, is just how powerful, strong or beautiful hair can make us feel and how deeply we're attracted to it. So the bottom line here is: if you're obsessed with your hair, it's probably natural. Everyone else in history seems to have been. The lucky thing for us is that we have PRODUCT. Oh yeah baby. There's product for everything. But that's a tale best told by those who have experience with such things. This hussy's knowledge is limited to a decent shampoo, conditioner and a pony tail tie.

Hope you have a very good hair day and if not... well, you're not alone baby (writes the hussy whose pony tail today looks like something someone snatched from a rangy mare's behind).

Cheers :)


Sahara Kelly said...

It's extremely comforting to know I'm not alone in my obsession with hair! LOLLOL I guess history shows we're all a bit bonkers about it. Speaking as someone who just spent 45 minutes with an assortment of appliances just to get it halfway decent, I feel a lot better about it.(grin)
And now I'm singing that darn song all over the house!!! Are we still in the Age of Aquarius? When it comes to hair, I am!!!

Angela Caperton said...

Years ago, I had long curly (yes, yes...I lived better chemically - and still do!) hair and longed to cut it. My hair has about as much natural body as a dead flounder, and for a variety of reasons, it wasn't very healthy. My then sig other pitched a fit every time I even mentioned "scissors" and "hair" in the same sentence, so for years I kept it long.

About two months after the sig other was recategorized as just an other, I slapped my money on the counter and let my hairdresser do what she'd been wanting to do for years. Yep, snip, snip to my shoulders.

Over the years my hair has actually gotten shorter and sassier and I love it!

My problem falls into a different category - there's no hiding "bed head" in a pony tail! Nope...when that cowlick is sticking straight off the side of my head, there's only one cure. Wash, rinse, repeat...

Fun subject! Thank you!

N.J.Walters said...

It's amazing how much our personality is tied up in our hair.

I've had long, straight hair for years. It won't hold a curl (even with a perm--tried that years ago). I had it cut short and permed once...only once. I hated it!

I've never used product...wouldn't know where to begin. Although I could use something to deal with flyaways.

I'm a shampoo, comb and go kinda gal. Love my ponytail holders. LOL

NathalieGray said...

My hair is an inch and a half, bleached blond almost to white and with half a cup of gel to hold it all sticking straight out and thick spikes. Love hair! It takes me 5 minutes in the morning. But as Angela said, you can't hide a cowlick in the ponytail. So I have to wash and re-gel the whole thing every morning. And because I'm too cheap to pay someone to do something I can, I cut and bleach it myself. When we go out, I'll slick it all nice and straight down the side.
Naturallly (the last time I saw my hair natural...gosh, 10 years ago?), it's auburn and very, very curly. Ugh.

Minime said...

My hair used to be long (over a foot) and straight dark brown. I hated it. So now it is just above my shoulders and curly and in another couple of months I am going to be dying it red again. My inner self is a red head with curly hair.

Main reason I cut my hair so short, never did anything with it. It was too long and straight. I could probably count the number of times it was free of any hair things on one finger. *smile* But after it was cut, I'd need several cowboys, indians and sheiks to loan me their fingers.

After having my hair long for so long, I love it being short. And curly. It's more manageable and my head hurts less. I'm not saving on shampoo and conditioner though, I still use the same amount that I did when it was long.

Sally Painter said...

I spent my teenage years trying to straighten my naturally curly hair. I was blessed with the good hair gene. Thank God for chemicals or I'd have been gray at 24. Premature gray runs in my fam.

When I was running, I chopped off my lock to from mid-back length to about 1 inch. I thought my mom was going to cry. My husband almost did. I eventually grew it back.

Nat, your do looks adorable!

When we would drive to the beach for family vacation, my bros and cousins didn't have to check the road signs for how much further to the family beach cottage, they just watched my hair start getting curly and by the time we arrived, I was Miss Frizzy!

Nicole Austin said...

I used to have gorgeous, thick hair, then I had my son. Something got messed up with my hormones during pregnancy because now my hair is thinning. I'm not even going to talk about how much I spend at the dreaded salon getting it colored and styled.

I really need my vamp mate to hurry up and find me so he can stop this aging and fix my hormones!

Rachel.C said...

I don't get the hair thing. Actually, I don't get most 'girly' things. If I have to spend more than three minutes doing my hair I get the shits. Honestly, there are some many other things I'd rather be doing than standing in front of the mirror fixing my hair. I should probably mention I don't own any make-up. Nope, not any, not even lip gloss. My girls swear there's something wrong with me. They're probably right, I don't do the clothes and shoe thingy either. The word tomboy get bounced around a lot.