MR Round Table: Women and Our Hair

From the moment we grow it, we’re in a relationship with it. Guests Jessica Dickerson and Chanel Parks from The Huffington Post joined us to discuss the female life long affair.

03.06.15

Leandra Medine: I think a good starting question is, what is your relationship with your hair like?

Jessica Dickerson, Associate Black Voices Editor, The Huffington Post: My hair has been a journey. I went from long curly natural hair, to braids, to straighteners, to relaxers. I’ve completely cut it off twice, and now I have an Afro. It probably took about 18 years of my life to get there. I think all of that was completely attached to my identity crisis, which had to do with growing up bi-racial and not understanding where I fit in and what I wanted to look like. My hair evolved with my understanding of myself as that happened.

LM: Where are you now?

JD: Now I’m going to let my hair do whatever it wants to do.

LM: Does that sort of mirror how you feel about your identity?

JD: Yeah. I think that I’m comfortable with how I look, and people are going to see me however they want to. Even if I don’t know exactly who I am, people are going to decide for themselves who I am.

I let my hair do its own thing. I’m proud of it now. I’m proud of the statement it makes. It’s big and kind of unruly, I guess.

LM: Do you feel like when you were straightening it you were trying to sublimate anything?

JD: Definitely. I wanted to fit in. I wanted straight hair because no one else had a giant Afro. It also came down to where I grew up. I did not go to a school with predominantly black women with Afros. I was the only kid with hair like mine and I wanted to fit in. I also danced ballet for seven years – that’s another thing. I was pressured to not have the hair that I did. There’s also pressure outside of school about getting jobs. People sometimes see Afros as unprofessional, which is unfortunate.

Chanel Parks, Associate Style Editor, The Huffington Post: I have a similar story. I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood and went to a predominately white school, and I always wanted to flip my hair, and wondered why my hair wasn’t like the other girls at school.

I’ve had relaxers, I’ve dyed it, it’s fallen out and I’ve shaved it off. I just got it cut again two months ago. I think my “breaking point” came because I was sick of people asking me questions every time I changed my hair. I would have a different hairstyle and people would be like, “How did you do that?” I never asked other woman how they got their haircuts.

I went natural in college, so I’ve been natural for four years now. I think for me, that symbolizes finally being able to take care of myself and my own hair the way I want to take care of it. When I was relaxing it, I wasn’t taking care of it at all; it would fall out all of the time.

I think I’m in a good place with my hair now. It looks pretty cool and I’m into it. People still ask me questions but I just reply with, “Oh you know, I just styled it.”

LM: I was having a conversation with someone recently about how I feel about my hair. Instead of respecting my head and body, I’m favoring a very “normal” version of beautiful by straightening it, instead of letting my hair do what it does naturally. But that still doesn’t negate the fact that when I let my hair dry naturally, I lose 50% of my confidence. That’s a very honest proclamation I don’t think I’ve ever admitted for the purpose of Man Repeller.

CP: I can say that too. I can say that I totally feel better about my hair now, but even within the natural hair community, I look at someone like Solange and I think man, My hair is never going to look like that.

JD: Even when you’re looking at a diverse range of models or actresses, there’s still only a handful of types of beauty represented. It’s hard to not see someone who looks like you, and then still be able to appreciate your own beauty.

LM: And it totally comes down to adjusting your own matter of perception, right? I could’ve looked in the mirror a year ago in a pair of high wasted corduroy pants and thought, Wow, I look ridiculous. But there’s not doubt in my mind that if I put those same pants on today, I’d look in the mirror and say, “Wow, that looks awesome.”

Amelia Diamond: Hair is the only thing that’s ever cooperated with me. I’ve always struggled with my weight, skin, teeth, but hair’s been good to me. However, I’m crazy gray. I have a chunk of gray hair that if I grew out, I’d look like Cruella de Vil. People tell me all the time to grow my gray out, that “it’ll be so cool.” And it’s like, yeah it’s “cool,” but would I feel beautiful? The answer is no, so I spend a lot of money to get my hair frequently dyed so that I look like I don’t do anything at all.

I’m also hyper-aware of the fact that I rely on my hair as a security blanket, and the second it’s off of my face I feel naked and uncomfortable. I use my hair as a shield. I like to think that my hair is me, so I’m not hiding anything, but I definitely hide behind this part of me.

LM: That’s an interesting point because Zendaya, in response to Giuliana Rancic’s comments at the Oscars, referenced Indie Arie’s, “I’m not my hair.”

AD: I feel very much that if I got rid of my hair, I would not know what to do.

Kate Barnett: Last year, for a story, I cut off my elbow-length hair within an inch of my scalp. The people that did it were amazing, and when I was in New York I felt incredible. But I spend half my time in rural New Mexico, and when I went home I thought, I don’t know what I’ve done. I’m not cool enough to pull this hair cut off.

I never figured out how to style it, or learned how to have fun with it. I’m growing it out now and at that similar stage where I want to treat my hair well and use beautiful products that don’t have chemicals and see what my actual curly hair looks like for the first time in my life. But I still haven’t figured out what I want my hair to be. I’m in this in-between stage of trying to be really confident, and finding a way to make my natural hair look beautiful while also making me feel beautiful, and I’m not there yet.

JD: Hair is such an intimate thing. You can change it as much as you change your clothes or makeup, but because it’s attached to your body it’s so much more personal when people react to it, whether they think it’s strange or bizarre. Because we take it personally, it’s so much easier to focus on all of the money and pain we go through to make it something that it’s not, instead of embracing the healthy ways to naturally change and manipulate the style. That’s never the route we choose to go down though, because when we’re insecure about something, no one chooses to embrace it. We just want to run the other way.

CP: Part of that is because we’re really hard on ourselves about hair. We think it should be so easy: “I’m a grown woman. I should know how to do my own hair.” But it’s a constant learning experience. I think people need to be at peace with the notion that you can learn and take steps; you don’t need to know it all right away. I judge myself harshly for not knowing what to put on my hair. I don’t know how to style it, but I can always learn.

Charlotte Fassler: I have such an emotional attachment to my hair. Every time I’d get a hair cut when I was younger – big or small – I would cry. I decided to cut my hair for Locks of Love in high school. I cut off 11 inches, then immediately felt devastated despite how happy I was to support the cause. I beat myself up for feeling that way about a hair cut — something so petty and insignificant. But I spent the next year and a half growing it back.

Esther Levy: Your hair is an extension of your personality and yourself. Right now, since long hippie hair is trendy, I really want extensions. It feels like such an embarrassing thing to admit because it sounds vain. Extensions have this connotation of being girly and kind of high maintenance.

On a totally different note, I was taught that Orthodox Jewish women wear wigs to cover their natural hair to divert the male gaze. It’s interesting to me that hair has this dual nature: it can be seen as sensual, which, in some communities, is something that should be kept private within a relationship, or it’s viewed as an expression of independence — like a pixie cut, or an Afro.

LM: Right, just like anything else, it can either be a prison or a fortress.

Esther: [To JD] Your Afro is so cool, by the way.

JD: It’s funny you say, “Your Afro is so cool.” I finally cut my hair off in high school because it was literally breaking apart. I was in Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, and I was sitting with these other high school girls who all had weaves and braids, and I figured, Oh, some other young black girls. We’re all on the same page. And we were not.

The entire time, they just insulted me. The only part of the documentary I’m in is when this girl sitting next to me turned to me and said, “No offense, but I’d never hire you for a real job with hair like that.” It was right then that I realized, Wow, we’re not on the same page. I also decided that I wanted to grow my hair out in defiance of that. I realized that I got a fair amount of pushback from adults and people who felt my hair should be pulled back or straightened, so I grew it out to piss people off. Now it’s become an extension of my personality, and it says, “I don’t care what you think.” But it stemmed from me feeling cool about rejecting other people’s opinions about me.

AD: Didn’t Chris Rock make make that movie because–

JD: His daughter asked him, “Daddy, why don’t I have good hair?”

CP: Which doesn’t really exist. You brought up fake hair earlier. That’s such a huge thing. When I was younger I had braids and fake hair, but I still judged other people who wore wigs or had weaves. Wigs are such a stigma. My mom wears super blonde wigs now, and I think we just need to change the way we think about these things.

JD: When people say a “weave,” a lot of time it has a negative connotation. But when people say “extensions,” it’s ok.

CP: I think the problem with weaves is that you can see the tracks. And people are automatically like, “Oh, you are so fake.”

CF: But then you think about all of those girls who bleach their hair and it’s so obviously fake.

CP: I want a pastel lob but that’s not happening; I’ll just buy a wig.

LM: Why do you think we’re so precious about hair? Why is this conversation happening, why are we all capable of expounding upon our relationship with our hair?

AD: We take it personally because it’s attached to us, and yet, we can instantly control it. I can put my hair in a ponytail and look like I’m headed to the gym, or I can blow it out and feel fancy.

CF: It’s so tethered to identity, too. I have a friend who had really dark straight hair, and she never felt like it suited her personality. She bleached her hair and now she feels so much more comfortable in her own skin. She thinks it fits her personality better.

JD: I think that hair’s precious because there’s a lot of historical power and tradition behind the idea of it. Doesn’t Samson lose all of his power when Delilah cuts his hair?

There’s a ton of religious and cultural connotations when it comes to hair. I think a part of the Giuliana/Zendaya dreadlocks controversy arose because, when you say something like “patchouli oil,” it’s making fun of the hair style that’s part of the Rastafarian religious culture. It’s belittling the tradition and the hair representative of it. That’s where it becomes problematic.

AD: Do you think the problem is that most people are not educated or aware of what different hairstyles can mean in certain cultures?

JD: Yeah. And I think that some things that are important to some people are not important to others. I’m not actively trying to make a statement with my hair, it is what it is – I am proud of it being a symbol of black natural hair. People see it and they think “black power” — I’m super aware of that, even though I’m just trying to grow my hair out and this is its shape. It’s very specific to personal experience. I’m sure Giuliana didn’t mean for her comments to sound racist, but I think because people felt targeted on behalf of their Rastafarian culture or history, they were immediately offended by it.

No one’s on the same page when it comes to “black hair,” which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that times are changing and people are evolving and living their own lives, changing locations. It’s complicated.

EL: Wasn’t there also a bunch of controversy over Blue Ivy’s hair?

JD: They started a petition that got thousands of signatures on it to “comb her hair.”  And that’s just another standard: to have your hair really combed out. I had my hair combed out today so it’s curly, but I can go two weeks without combing my hair.

CP: People just apply one overall thing to hair, which I think makes different communities so angry. It’s disregarding all of the different steps each individual goes through with their hair.

AD: It goes back to assuming that there’s a “normal” — “good hair” — and everything that doesn’t adhere to the strict guideline of “normal” is “weird.”

CP: And that never ends, because even in the natural hair community there’s still this norm that curls should be luscious, etc.

KB: Leandra asked earlier why we’re so precious about hair — I feel like both literally and figuratively, your hair frames your face. It’s what people see when they talk to you and how they think of you, and it’s therefore such an integral part of your identity. It kind of frames the lens in which people are interacting with you.

LM: I think part of the reason I’ve been down the past couple of weeks is because ever since I got this fringe cut around my face — which looked wonderful the day I got it — now just makes me look like DJ Tanner had at it with a stir fry pan. I have not felt beautiful since!

EL: There is some weird solace in that though. At least this is pressure that we put on ourselves because we want to feel beautiful, as opposed to wanting to look beautiful for someone else.

CF: I think about that when I consider getting a tattoo or a piercing. There’s this sense of control, of being able to alter your appearance, but it’s for yourself. It’s your own body and you can immediately change it, that is an empowering feeling. 

AD: I’m always really jealous of my hairdresser who changes her hair once a week; one week it’s pink, purple, long, short. I’m fascinated by her ability to change her hair in same the way some experiment with different clothing styles. I always have the same hair. I always wear the same type of clothes. How can it feel so non-permanent to her?

KB: When I cut all of my hair off, it was hugely empowering. I had no idea how much was tied up with my hair.

LM: When I cut my hair off a few years ago — I cut it off myself because it’s cheap and I have control issues — I was going to Scotland that evening for a Chanel show and I just wanted to look more French. That was literally the impetus of that haircut. I cut most of it off and felt so cool. And instead of just basking in the coolness I continued to cut it because I was so excited by that high.

At one point I looked exactly like Fran Lebowitz because I wear so much menswear and my hair was kind of frizzy and it was winter…I look back at pictures now and I think it looked kind of obscene, but at the time I really appreciated it.

It definitely bookmarks a time in my life. I also handed in the final draft of my book the day I was leaving for Scotland, so I’m always going to associate cutting my hair with cutting that responsibility from me.

CP: I like that idea. The reason why I went natural is because my second year of college, I dyed my hair this really awful shade of burgundy and it just all fell out. I did it myself, on my 20th birthday, and thought I was so cool. A month later I went to get it relaxed, and I put my hand through my hair and a chunk just fell out. It was really bad. I cried for a week. At first I was like, “What am I going to do to salvage this?” Finally, once I got all my hair shaved off I felt great. I’d cut off all the bad stuff — all of the bad emotions.

AD: Did you feel like you had to then change things about your appearance to go with your hair?

CP: Not at the time, but now I think it aligns with my style.

LM: I was actually just thinking that my relationship with my hair is contingent on where I am stylistically, byt I don’t necessarily think I’m very precious about my hair. I definitely think I’m hard on myself when it comes to my hair, I wish that I could get over this, “I’m not beautiful unless my hair is straight thing.” I don’t know where that leaves me.

JD: It’s easy to project your feelings onto your hair. You’d never wake up and say, “Oh, I feel so fat, but it’s definitely the sweater, it’s not me.”

AD: At some point, every woman has come to the realization of, “Here’s what I physically have. Here’s what I am working with. So how am I going to make myself feel best with these ingredients?”

KB: Being comfortable with — not just celebrating — the things we don’t consider perfect about ourselves is really tough.

AD: Maybe it only exists in an ideal world. But do you feel like once you reach a certain point where you’re comfortable with yourself, then you can experiment again without guilt?

JD: Personally, I would never straighten my hair ever again, because I feel like it was a huge part of me trying to change myself in order fit in. I felt weird about it. I didn’t realize what I was trying to do at the time but I realize it now. I’d never go down that road again.

LM: I feel like what you went though with your hair is what I went through with my face five years ago. I finally looked in the mirror and said, “I’m never going to look like a Scandinavian model, I don’t want to look like a Scandinavian model; this is me. The bags under my eyes are genetic. My mom has them; I see a reflection of my mother — that’s something I’m going to be able to carry with me through her mortality. And I just don’t care. If this isn’t beautiful to someone I don’t care, because it is to me.” It’s the same with hair.

CP: It’s like a teacher of mine once said: it’s just dead protein.

Today’s guests were Chanel Parks, Associate Style Editor at The Huffington Post — follow her on Twitter here, and Jessica Dickerson, Associate Black Voices Editor at The Huffington Post — follow her on Twitter here.  

And for more MR Round Tables, click here.

Get more Beauty ?
  • Quinn Halman

    My hair is work; it is puffy, thick, curly, and it always comes with a “halo of fuzz”. I’ve often longed for long, straight hair (ha!) but it really is a loss of identity. Often people do double takes or don’t recognize me after a blowout. Seriously! I passed my own mother on the street! But at the end of the day I really love it- curls and all. I can do hats and headbands; braids when it’s long enough, but from my shoulders up is just one big juxtaposition. I love my hair but I cannot say the same for my face. I’ve spent countless hours in front of the mirror trying different parts so the mane frames it differently. I rarely wear my hair up and the main reason for that is just exposing my double chin and I have a pretty round face so my jawlines have never really been that defined. Arguably, people are mostly recognized by their face and hair. You can cut X many inches of hair, dye it X many times and colours, style it X many ways but you can’t do that with your face and that is my stupid, main hair issue

    • Amelia Diamond

      Hey! That face of yours is beautiful! So is your hair.

    • Allie Fasanella

      I second that thought!

    • For real homie you’re gorgeous.

      • Quinn Halman

        I am taking you home for Canada’s freaky october thanksgiving

    • Chanel

      what they said!

      • Quinn Halman

        Thanks (all) for making me very uncomfortable in the best way possible

        • Kelsey Moody

          HEY I think youre beautiful too!!! I dont want to be left out guys

  • Allie Fasanella

    I’m really on the same page with you Amelia that my hair is like my security blanket. I would feel completely lost without it. That kind of scares me. I admire you so much for chopping off your locks, Kate. You looked so freaking cool. I remember there was this girl from America’s Next Top Model that got her hair cut into a pixie during the makeovers and she was SO upset. She felt so masculine and not like herself. It seemed really dramatic, but I feel like I really connect with that.

    My hair is just long and brown but I have something called bamboo hair (http://www.xovain.com/hair/how-to-care-for-bamboo-hair) and it’s really frustrating cause I can’t put my hair up in a cute pony like Amelia did in her post yesterday because underneath i have these shorter broken hairs. But you wouldn’t know it by just looking at my hair when it’s down. I just think everyone has something they’re insecure about. Also I kind of hate the idea of “good hair.” I think Solange Knowles’ hair is just as good as say Candice Swanepoel’s. They’re just different. i think the world needs to stop comparing so much. We’re all dope. We all have gorgeous hair.

  • I never did a thing to my hair throughout my life. From elementary school until about 3 years ago, I had extremely long brown hair. I’ve always been very attached to my hair, and I think that’s why I never did anything different to it. I, too, liked having it long, being able to hide or conceal parts of my face/body. For example- if I thought I was showing too much cleavage, I relied on my hair to cover that. Exactly a year ago this week, I chopped about 14 inches off to donate it. I am still shocked how calm I was about the whole process. I am currently growing it out again, but would definitely go for another major chop down the road. It’s so funny, there are people who only know me as having short blonde-ish/ombre/whatever you want to call it hair, and when they see old pictures of dark long hair they’re all like WHAAAT. I really can’t believe I was such a dark brunette for 24 years. I’m not sure when I’ll ever go back to that color. Probably when I run out of money from dying it. About the part of wearing hair naturally- I didn’t really think of it until now, but how messed up is it that when we wear our natural hair, no hot tools, no extra brushing, it is often seen as messy/unkept/or not presentable? I mean, I don’t believe people should walk around with dirt and bugs in their hair, but just because it is wavy or frizzy, shouldn’t mean that you’re not as professional. Funny, a new (male) person started working in my office on Monday and I actually said to my friends “Ugh, do I have to start doing my hair now and wearing mascara to work?!” I kind of hate myself for even thinking that, but I will note I did my hair and my eye makeup for one day. Now I’m back to buns and bare eyes.

    • Quinn Halman

      I like your Kurt Cobain hair

    • Kelsey Moody

      Im the only woman in my office and whenever I put my hair up (I usually wear it down or a low bun to pretend Im Jenna Lyons) someone comments on it like “woah! what did you do to your hair!” or tell me it looks better down. Ive also been told by some very creepy old men that I “should wear heels more often”. Sooo now I currently live in loafers bc Im more than my tits and ass when I have heels on THANK YOUUUU

  • L

    I don’t feel this connection to my hair the way everyone seems to in this post. It honestly confuses me because I can’t relate to it. I’ve had all sorts of different hair styles (e.g., pixie, long ombre, shoulder length, bob) and with each one I thought it would change me, but I always feel the same.

    • Amelia Diamond

      That’s like my hair dresser! (Or at least how I perceive her to feel since she’s always changing it) Do you feel this way about something else related to you?

      • L

        I put a decent amount of thought into my clothes. When I miss the mark with an outfit it definitely affects my mood and how I feel about myself. So I guess in that respect I can relate to this feeling but just not with my hair.

        • Joshua Michael

          leaving the house, getting on the train, and thinking “ugh, what did i put on today?” is one of the worst feelings in the world. Can really start your day off on the wrong foot and carry through….I totally feel you there

    • Hannah Cole

      I only wish I could be like that!

  • parkzark

    My hair is definitely a security blanket for me too. I’ve had the same cut and same color basically since sophomore year of high school because I know that will always look good on me. It used to be a weird point of pride for me that I only had to get my hair highlighted once or twice a year, since I was/am dirty blonde, which is pretty vain and stupid looking back on it. As I get older, I get gradually darker and I’m ok with that. Roots are no longer the enemy. Plus who really gives an eff how much you dye/highlight your damn hair.

  • Stephanie

    I would love to hear more about Jessica’s and Chanel’s journey to hair acceptance. I have 2 biracial nieces, the oldest of which is 7 and she has hated her hair for a long time already. It breaks my heart because she is a beautiful, smart, sweet girl and I absolutely LOVE her natural hair. Academically I get it that not many people around her have hair that looks like hers (most of her non-white classmates are Asian or Hispanic), but i can never feel it in my soul the way she does.

    • Chanel

      Hi Stephanie! I actually have a niece who is 5 and she talks about how she wants her hair to be like the other girls in her class, long and moving. And as I mentioned in the discussion, I can definitely relate to that. But, something that put things into place for me is seeing other women, whether they were on TV, magazines or even on the street, being celebrated for their hair — hair that is similar to mine. The problem with that though is that’s something you have to seek out, since it’s still not “accepted” in “the mainstream.” Ultimately, your nieces will have a choice in how they want their hair to be — but in the meantime, reminding them that their hair is beautiful is great, which could help boost their confidence. I’m sure Jess has some good advice, too!

    • Jessica Dickerson

      When I was young, and my parents couldn’t find dolls that looked like me, they turned to musical inspirations like Macy Gray and Erykah Badu — and I instantly had two new idols. I owe a lot of my self love to those women. You should introduce your nieces to Solange Knowles and Urban Bush Babes! They are young, beautiful and all natural fashion figures.

      On the other hand, it’s worth keeping in mind that NO ONE was able to make me feel good about my hair until I was ready to love it myself. It takes patience, time, sometimes pain and money… but if you keep reminding them and showing them that their hair is fabulous it will only be a matter of time before they realize it’s true!

    • Stephanie

      Thanks ladies! You have such great perspective. You are right, nothing I say will make her love her hair. My hope is they both one day are able to look into the mirror and see the beautiful girls they are/women they will be come.

  • eva

    I just want to put this out there: some white people (like me) have afro-ish hair and I don’t want to say it’s harder to deal with in terms of how its perceived but for example I don’t have this whole black pride identity thing that would help me deal with it and be proud of it. Unless you’re a moron, you know that black people have different hair, it’s normal ! But when you’re white with very unruly coarse hair, it’s perceived as weird and like out of place. You can’t go to a normal hairdresser and if you go to a specialist for afro hair, you just feel again out of place. There aren’t many examples of celebrities with that kind of hair either so I guess it’s a strange inbetween thing in terms of identity.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Want to post a picture of it here? I bet it’s awesome. Do your parents have hair like you? And what do you do with it — let it be, or try to tame it?

      • eva

        I don’t think I even have a picture of my hair down, I always hide it in braids, buns and what not. It’s silly but I feel shame when my hair is wild and free. My parents don’t have hair like me nor does anyone in my family. I try and tame my hair without using damaging hot tools. I basically wash it, put some leave in conditioner in it (literally A TON), a bit of oil too and let it air dry for like 30 min so that the hair isn’t damp but more like a bit humid, then bun for the rest of the day. Yeah, it takes me half a day to get my hair dry and “styled” (as if). For a brief period I use to go to the hairdresser and get a blow-dry (because I couldn’t do it myself, it hurt my arms), it took an hour and I kept it for 2 weeks and go back to the hairdresser and so on. Disgusting I agree but my hair looked amazing with all the natural oils. It looked healthy. If I don’t wash my hair for 2 weeks now, I’d have to cut it because of the knots.

    • Laura

      Have you ever read anything by Anne Lamott? She is also a white woman with very kinky hair. She eventually went with dreads. The stuff she writes about body issues is really interesting.

      • eva

        I haven’t but I’ll check her out thanks !

        • notsayingjustsaying

          So a good perm won’t do it???

  • I’ve never felt totally emotionally-invested in my hair. I use it really as a vehicle to advance a certain look I am into at the time, so it often changes depending on which decade I am interested in. When I was much younger (8 or so), I kept it mid-length so that I could easily curl it or make victory rolls to go along with the whole mid-late ’40s aesthetic I was really focusing on as I was collecting clothes from those years. Hair, to me, is really just a Look-Finisher.

    That being said, I do realize that hair plays a fundamental role in religion and politic. Just look at the use of wigs in certain religions, and of course armpit and pubic hair as a sort of socio-polictical statement. It’s funny to me, really, when people like Giuliana Rancic make seemingly innocent remarks like the ‘patchouli oil/weed’ one about Zendaya’s hair. I know her choice to wear locs had little to do with Rastafari culture, but it is not uncommon to hear religious people comment about the aesthetic manifestations of other religious people. You’d think religious people could step back and be like: “Look, bottom line we all believe in a higher power” —> Isn’t that somewhat humbling and unifying, to know that so many others are also putting their faith in something not scientifically provable? So forgo the snide religious remarks and practice what you preach, people.

    (also patchouli oil is a great smell, so sorry you can’t vibe with that Giuliana.)

  • Cali

    I love this discussion. It’s also timed perfectly with Kim’s platinum blonde dye decision landing on front pages of internet consciousness. I’ve heard so many people in my office reference her decision – “OMG? Did you see Kim’s hair? She looks like Draco Malfoy?” It’s amazing the scrutiny hair causes, both publicly and personally. I like to think that it can end in catharsis.

    • That’s true, but I also think anything Kim K does will immediately be blown out of proportion. She wears and dress and 500 articles are like “KIM K LOOKS NAKED IN THE MOST NAKED-Y NAKED DRESS EVER.” Okay, cool, a lot of people where lil dresses. But in regards to Kim, it’s like our news cycle (or lack thereof?) is flipped on its head.

      • Cali

        I would counter that anything that Kimmy K (or any of the Kardashians for that matter) do in terms of *their appearance* is blow out of proportion. Because of this obsession with celebrity appearance (instead of, let’s say, celebrity achievements, intelligence, or compassion), I completely agree that our news cycle is turned on its head. This public problem becomes a personal one, re: appearance or re: hair. My main point using the Kim K argument was that when we constantly scrutinize others and ourselves, there’s no brain space to digest and flesh out important topics. The MP Hair discussion is an indicator of what I hope is a larger trend: change in the way that we consume, digest, and converse about appearance.

  • Rebekah

    I don’t remember ever having any emotional connection to my hair. It’s almost black and very curly. When I was a kid it was always long and unstyled because my parents were kind of free spirits and preferred that I look like a hippie baby bedhead sprite, and I didn’t actually care one way or the other. Then I went into middle school and suddenly the other girls who had been pretty chill up to that point suddenly had some pretty mean and loud things to say about how big and ugly and frizzy my hair was so I cut it shorter and spent most of middle and high school loading it down with products and blow drying it with a diffuser everyday to make it do things it clearly didn’t want to because that’s the only way I thought it looked like I was “trying” hard enough. Eventually I was just fed up with the trouble and cut it all off myself one night when I was 17. Looking back I looked kind of like Rizzo from Grease but I remember it being so completely freeing, just not having to bother with it anymore. About a week later I got it properly cut into a much shorter pixie and have stuck with that for the past 12 years. I seriously doubt I’ll ever grow it out. I don’t dye it, or style it with anything. I think it reflects my personality in that I’ve ultimately ended up being a very confident person and at the end of the day this is just what I look like.

    • Chanel

      That’s such a great story and I’m with you, I don’t know if I’ll ever chemically straighten my hair again. Honestly, I think my natural hair makes me look badass sometimes, so I’d rather not ruin it again!

    • Charlotte Fassler

      That’s rad that you’ve been rocking a short ‘do for 12 years. My grandma wore her hair in a pixie the entire 22 years i knew her and as a very neat and proper woman it just suited her personality. She didn’t like to have anything fussy and didn’t like change so once she chopped her hair super short there was no going back. It is a way of truly maintaining control over a part of you that isn’t always easy to control. I’m sure once you felt some sense of control over that element that was causing you anxiety you radiated confidence.

  • 9th picture is Liu Wen!

    I’ve always had super thick and wavy hair for an Asian. Growing up, I wondered why my hair couldn’t be as straight like all the other girls around me. There was this period of time where re-bonding was the hottest style, and everyone went around with super-straight locks as reflective as a mirror. Then the digital perm phase came and went. Never in my 25 (coming 26 now as much as I hate to admit!) years have I done anything that changed the texture of my hair though I’ve done crazy dye jobs in almost every color of the rainbow, and had waist long hair chopped off to a short pixie all in the span of the last couple years.

    I totally agree with Amelia that hair can become a security blanket, it keeps your neck warm in the cold, you can hide pimples on your forehead, make your face look smaller, etc… I never released that until I got my pixie cut, but I’m glad I did because I now know I look my best with a shoulder-length blunt cut. And knowing what you look best in, that’s when you feel the most confident!

    http://charmystique.com/

  • Like Charlotte, I always used to cry whenever I would get a haircut. Just like Samson, I thought I’d lose all my powers if my hair was cut. My hair always seemed so personal to me and part of my own identity. Classmates would always play with my hair and complement it, like it was my only physical asset I had growing up.

    Hair is such an interesting topic to discuss, especially for women, since it’s sort of an accessory but also part of our bodies. My professor, whom I’m proud to call my mentor, wrote a book about hair called HAIR STORY about the history of black hair in America. I’ve talked to her a lot about the book, and it always amazes me how much hair has had an emotional impact on the women. As Jessica Dickerson said (which ties into yesterday’s post on “that’s so me”), other people decide how they perceive you based on your hair, even though you don’t even know yourself who you are. It’s a good point because there are already perceptions on certain kinds of hair (like Giuliana presumed) that it just makes for unfair judgements.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Do you still feel super emotionally tied to your hair or have you reached a point after enough haircuts where you realize it’s just a haircut and will ultimately grow back?
      Did this book shape the way you felt about your own hair experiences?

      • I’m a big fan of major changes and haircuts, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I was able to sit in the chair at the hair salon without getting a lump in my throat. This definitely stems from my mom giving me short haircuts when I was really young and not being able to pigtail my hair. I don’t feel super emotionally attached anymore, but it does take a bit of encouragement from myself because I just KNOW that I end up loving the haircut and change.

        Because hair so is personal to every individual, I had my own positive/negative experiences from other people regarding my hair. Reading this book and understanding other people’s experiences with hair perhaps made me less “selfish” (for lack of a better word) with the way I felt about my hair.

  • alicynzall

    I could write essays about my relationship with my hair and how it affects my life. I get “wear your hair up I can’t see your face!” So I’ll wear my hair up but then I get “your hair is too pretty to pull back, wear it down!” I’m a people pleaser there is a lot of half up half down style in my life. My hair is really thick, but soft, but frizzy and ranges from wavy-ringlet curls. I love not doing anything to it (because I feel like that’s when it reflects my personality most) but then get self conscious about being “unkept”. My current hair goal- straight, sleek, low pony. I think it’s because I’m graduating in May and I want to be taken more seriously. I’ll know I’ve made it in life when I can afford twice a week blow outs.

  • AlexaJuno

    I’ve had a pixie for several years and I’ve always loved it. When I cut my hair I felt the most like myself I’ve ever felt in my life. However, I’ve also begun to favor a more masculine style of dress and have the unfortunate distinction of being a straight woman. It goes without saying that masculine clothes and hair, to most men, equals lesbian. Now I’m growing it out but I don’t necessarily know who for. It kind of makes me sad.

    • Andrea Raymer

      I had a pixie for a while too and while everyone else always said that they liked it I didn’t quite feel like myself. Though I am never fraud to change it up. When it was short I had to get it cut 3 times to get it as short as I wanted it. It seems like all the hairdressers I went to were anticipating me to get nervous and would never cut it short enough. I have the same problem now with cutting my bangs.

      • AnnieH

        I had the same pixie-cut problem with hairdressers being too scared to cut it short, even though I was walking into the salon with ~2months of growth and a page of pictures (including one of me!) for reference – but this only happened when I was studying abroad in Massachusetts, British hairdressers were always super up for clippering the back and everything. I think the reluctance to go ‘too far’ is linked to the ideas of feminity that are attached to hair – the little french kid who asked his mum if I was a boy or girl didn’t bother me, it was his mum’s offended look that I was confusing her kid.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      If you love it, keep it!!!
      Or grow it a bit and see if you like that contrast with your style of dress (you can always chop it right back!)

  • Andrea Raymer

    I didn’t grow up being too emotionally attached to my hair. When I was probably four my mom had it cut short and I hated it, but mostly just because of the way it was cut. My mom has had short hair my entire life so it was never too big of a deal for me. I have super fine, super straight hair that looks like a bad flat iron job by a tenth grader in 2007. I had problems with the actual functionality of my hair, like its tendency to get really static-y and its inability to stay in a ponytail for a whole hour. I mostly used my hair to relate to celebrities that I liked. I cut my hair into a pixie cut a month after Emma Watson did and grew mine out along with her. I have lately been trying to maintain Taylor swift hair. The length of my hair has never been that important to me.

    The identity issues lately have been coming from the color. Since college I have been a redhead, a blonde, a brunette and had pink, purple and burgundy hair at different times. The purple and burgundy were my sole act of rebellion in my life. The blonde was the difficult one. I wanted to try blonde because I thought it would suit my skin tone, but my mom forced me to do it myself. I did and seriously messed upy head. I looked like a cow because I missed some spots and had to get it fixed the next day which ended up much lighter than I was anticipating. The entire 9 months that I was blonde I kept forgetting that was what I looked like. Every time I looked in the mirror was a shock and when people referred to me as “the blonde girl” I was so confused. The day I went back to brown I was so much happier and felt so much more like myself.

  • Hair is such a normal and yet controversial thing. As someone who is mostly African American I could write a whole book on just the topic of my hair. My hair is long, natural and mine (not purchased). Still there are those that assume because I’m not mixed or light skinned or simply because I’m black I must have in a weave or extensions. There are those that think they can touch my hair or who feel compelled to question its authenticity. Needless to say its a lot but I love my hair and like most women It’s such a part of me.

    -M
    http://www.violetroots.com

  • john
  • kline, mara r.

    three years ago i made the decision to go from dark (almost black) brown to blonde and it was the best thing i’ve ever done for myself. 100% confidence boost. it was also amazing because for the first couple months it was like i was wearing a permanent disguise because a lot of people didn’t recognize me (i.e. everyone from high school who i didn’t want to stop and chat with). now i think i’ll always be blonde because i feel more like myself than i ever did with the spectrum of brown that i was during high school and the first two years of college. i always say that i’m not a natural blonde but i am naturally blonde.

  • Shifra Rothenberg

    I have very curly hair, some days it’s great some days it’s a disaster. My curls don’t seem to fit into any hair categories, it is honestly a category of it’s own. I love my hair and the identity it has given me that I have struggled to appreciate. My only dream is that it would grow longer and that I could wake up and have it look even mildly presentable instead of the birds nest that I get. Hair – glorious hair.

  • Janet

    I was intrigued by the part of the discussion in which Leandra and Chanel described haircuts that coincided with changes in other parts of their lives. Every time I make a significant change (in my perspective or in a tangible area of my life) I change my hair dramatically. When I finished grad school I died it pink and spiked it up; I was finally free from the suffocating authority of all those texts and professors and my hair showed it. When I got married I cut my long blond hair short and dyed it my original color (brown). I was moving into a deeper comfort/security with myself and that reflected in my hairstyle/color.

    Whenever I change my hair I feel powerful; I feel as if I am (usually unconsciously) expressing something about myself that is new and exciting to me. My hair is about what’s inside me; it is an extension (see what I did there?) of me. The difficulty I encounter is that many of these changes have nothing to do with beauty. I like them, I feel like they are important and interesting, but I don’t feel beautiful in them. And, the world doesn’t treat the me with short brown hair the way it treated the me with long blonde hair. A lot of external validation of my beauty simply disappeared.

    Because of this I’ve committed to keeping my hair short and brown until I feel beautiful in it. Its been four years and I think I look good, but I still don’t think I look beautiful. Its so interesting to me how we internalize these images of beauty to such a deep extent, and how they blind us to our own beauty. And, why don’t I think power is beautiful?!?

    • Chanel

      Ugghh, I know what you mean. But it’s a process and I’m sure you look kick ass with that cut!

      • Janet

        Thanks! I do love it.

  • Aydan

    I did a similar thing and cut off all my hair and donated it in college. I have loose ringlet/wavy hair and used to straighten it or curl it to make it look more uniform. Once I cut off I was really able to see how amazing my curls (and how UNIQUE) they are. Since then, I’ve relied on hot tools less (hello showing up at work looking like a wet dog) and have ended up with healthier happier hair. Yes its perpetually frizzy, but I’ve realized that’s just how its going to be. Basically, I love my hair now, wouldn’t trade it for the world and love the fact that now I know I could rock it at any length! (I have had some horrible middle school haircuts though…bangs are not in my future!)

    • kahtennis

      If you ever have chemo as I did — and do the Big Chop as the first phase of letting go of all your hair — you realize a fixation on length and texture is so superficial. You reach a point where you think,”Yeah, I’m bald, but I’m alive.” And, it does grow back. I wrote about it in my blog.

  • My hair is my security blanket. I hate changing it too much. It feels like me.

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • I always have fly away baby hairs, even worse now after I’ve bleached it! It’s such a shame that women with afro hair are made to feel negative about themselves by society, more celebrities need to embrace their natural texture!

    – Grace xx

    P.S. Would really appreciate it if you could check out my blog and maybe follow if you feel so inclined? <3

    http://voguebeach.blogspot.co.uk/

  • I never felt my hair as a security blanket. Maybe that’s because of the fact that I’m too freaking tall, like standing a head up everyone else, and they are nonstop staring at me – so my hair wouldn’t quite do the security blanket thing. After years and years of miserable attempts, I embraced the fact that no matter how normal or not normal I look, because I’m so easily spottable, people will always stare at me and judge, “wow, look at that giraffe!” So I decided to be a funky giraffe instead. I started dressing in whatever the hell I damn well please – a true manrepeller at heart, and I did the hair part as well. I’ve tried everything with my hair which is thick, verrrrry heavy, curly and has its own opinion about stuff, so I could never get it to do what I wanted but I kept trying anyway – over the years of my life, I’ve had a bowl-cut, straight bangs, side bangs, princess long wavy hair (it goes from curly to wavy because of its own heaviness), 2-milimeter hair, pixie cut with long bangs, shoulder-length bob, layered hair, etc. The colours I’ve tried are anything but blonde – seriously, because of my complexion I look like a ghost when with blonde hair, but anything else, you name it I’ve tried it. Right now I’m sporting an asymmetrical bob with long front and shorty-short back in a copper red hue. And yeah, with all those experiments with my hair and wardrobe over the years, the staring and judging f*ckers got served well. They still do.

  • Love love love it. The ruffled skirts are gorgeous, and the leather
    pants are too good. butik
    busana muslim modern online

  • gg

    I grew up the only blonde in a family of dark-haired people, and I wanted that so badly. I wanted deep, romantic hair. I had this beautiful rainbow of friends with great hair – intricate braids, bouncy, awesome Afros, Pakistani girls with thick, shiny black hair, Puerto Rican with long, wavy layers and those beautiful curly baby hairs surrounding their face , and one natural redhead with these luscious curls – and I was the plain, blonde, white girl with ghostly skin, long flat hair, and COWLICKS. SO MANY COWLICKS.

    When I was a child, I looked like I had perpetual bedhead, but there really wasn’t anything to do about it. My best friend’s mother put in braids that I kept in for a couple of weeks, (we actually did this a few times in an attempt to get the cowlicks to calm down) which definitely hid them, but the cowlicks persisted. I also had a friend tell me to try wrapping my head while I was asleep, to “train” them to be flat, which I tried for weeks, to no avail. When their ideas didn’t work, I had people suggest I wasn’t doing it right or trying hard enough.

    In response, I started dyeing my hair crazy colors. I’ve been blue, green, tomato red, atomic orange, bleach blonde, baby pink. I guess I figured I couldn’t change my cowlicks or the fact that I was a natural blonde, but I could at least make my hair a little brighter, a little happier, and it felt like a contrast to my friends and family with their beautiful natural hair. I wasn’t the prettiest, I didn’t have the prettiest hair, but I could be the crazy-looking fun one.

    The messy, boho, bedhead thing that’s become popular lately has made me more comfortable leaving the house with my hair more natural, whereas before I did a lot of braids, buns, and heat styling (and obviously the dyeing) to try to tame or camouflage the ‘licks. I’m also blonde again – I can’t do the crazy colors at work, which makes me a little sad, but I just don’t look good (or feel like myself) with the deep hues that my family and friends share. I can’t make my face angular, I can’t get a tan, and I can’t make my hair grow in brown, but I’ve actually started to like what I have and accept it for what it is.

  • Marti

    Up until my 25th year I had long hair, never above my shoulders. I wouldn’t have dreamed of cutting it short.. I’d played with colour from dark to red to blonde and had settled with something close to natural.. Light brown with a touch of blonde. I was done. Figured this was my hair for life. Then I got cancer and was rushed through chemo and lost all my hair. The weirdest thing happened. Losing my hair was scary BUT I actually felt pretty cool! Like despite feeling dead tired and sick and generally freaking out, I had this new look that I could have some fun playing with. I wore hats that showed my head and sometimes nothing at all. I had bought a wig which replicated my old hair, but Samantha didn’t lie about that hot flushes so I never wore it. I missed my lashes and brows but the hair from my head (and constant body hair removal) I did not miss! When the treatment was over I had not only a new appreciate for life itself but for short hair and have kept it short and have never had so many compliments. My best friends tell me I have never looked better. I guess I think you just never know what will suit you until you do it. Plus I think most acts of bravery result in more confidence.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Thank you so much for sharing, this was really inspiring

      • Marti

        Thanks for commenting Charlotte! You girls are all inspiring! X

    • Amelia Diamond

      “Plus I think most acts of bravery result in more confidence.” Marti. You rule.

  • Firstly, I’d like to say, thank you Leandra for this fantastic round table discussion!

    So, “hair’s” the thing…

    As
    a woman of Chinese descent growing up in a predominantly white,
    middle-class society being ‘different’ was always a cause for concern,
    not withstanding that it is only until one arrives at school at the
    tender age of five, that one really gains an understanding of what
    others perceive as ‘acceptable’ or normal.

    http://thewireless.co.nz/themes/home/a-grain-of-truth-racism-exists-in-new-zealand

    For
    me, straight black,’horse hair'(as my school friends would often refer
    to it), was the obvious signifier that I was not like the other ‘white
    children’ in the classroom.

    Born in New Zealand, my ideas of beauty inevitably evolved around what was available to me.

    As
    a little girl, one of my beauty idols was superwoman with her dark hair –she was
    the closest substitute I ever had to a role model at a time when Asian
    faces never featured on TV in NZ.

    Hair is also a signifier of youth and beauty. Different cultures have
    their own standards of beauty, and hair tends to be part of that
    equation.

    In general, I believe that hair is a ‘cultural signifier.’

    We
    use
    our hair–like clothes–as a means of saying something about who we are.
    Sub cultures from 80’s pop to punk, hair metal to new wave…hair has
    always been used as a means to ‘identify’ with the parts of our culture
    or ‘sub-culture’ that we want to associate with, and conversely, to
    express with some volition, what our values don’t align with.

    When
    we are young, we tend to experiment more readily with our hair because
    we are exploring the terrain of where we fit in society and asking
    questions about what we value, but also, trying to understand where we
    come from…it’s a time to experiment with fashion and sometimes find
    out what does or doesn’t suit us.

    And yes, hair is precious…
    My grandmother cut her hair upon emigrating to New Zealand– a time of
    transition, new beginnings and perhaps a desire to shed something from
    her past with a new desire to assimilate into her surroundings. My
    mother said that my grandma kept her ponytail–that it traveled with her
    from China to New Zealand. Hair is precious, it holds cultural weight
    and value, it holds memory and stories…

    My story with hair has
    always been fraught with questions and longing. Hair can act as a
    camouflage –a necessary means for which to say, I am like you and you
    are like me, that I care…or that I don’t. But to ‘cut’ ones hair is to
    liberate oneself from the confines of what is ‘necessarily’ a
    conventional standard of beauty.

    I have gone from long hair to
    short, and back again. Invariably, I always feel the most myself with
    short hair. It brings out my more masculine traits–I have always been a
    tomboy! With long hair I’m somewhat concealing my masculine tendencies,
    but I think at times, perhaps it also masks my urge to be as
    courageous, independent and outspoken, as I really am.

    But in
    light of this
    seasons new tresses and that enviable and covetable ponytail, my
    question still remains: to cut or not to cut? For now, I’ll live with my mid-length lob which can make the swift transition
    into pseudo 70’s mushroom!

    Sonia x
    http://www.slyonthewall.com

  • BK

    I don’t know I think I’d just like to use this thread to publicly and formally apologise to my hair for the years of sustained maltreatment:
    – the 5+ years of not brushing it as a child, resulting in my mother chopping it off into what was really actually a very smart bob for a second grader;
    – the following 10 years of just having the ends cut and nothing else done to it ever;
    – the terrible middle school phase where I put “gradual blonding mousse” in it every day (spoiler: orange. it’s orange in a can that never fades);
    – that one time, age 15, I had it all cut off because I “wanted to be more like mum;
    – the constant boxed-supermarket-dye jobs;
    – the associated hideous (read: mullet) growing-out phase;
    – the summer where I had regular blonde highlights BUT forgot to use conditioner for the entire season;
    – that one time at that party when I let Dan shave an undercut into it;
    – the three following undercuts;
    – the overzealous mid-Berlin-winter haircut (result of The One Time I Tried to Cut It Myself And Had To Go To The Hairdresser Like Immediately) which left my scalp with only 1cm of downy fuzz to protect it from the elements;
    – the current regimen of intensive root bleaching every 5 weeks and fortnightly toning to achieve “the perfect silver”;
    – and most importantly, sorry for whatever I’m going to do to it next. I’M SO SO SORRY. If my hair were my offspring, Child Services would have intervened years ago.

    (Also seeing we’re all self-actualising via our hair in this thread: if I could try to find a reason for why I change/assault my mane just so much all the time, I suppose it has something to do with always being very aware of just how painfully different I operate in comparison to most people (for a long, long time in childhood I legitimately thought that maybe I was an alien because everything and everyone else just seemed, I don’t know, weird and different and nothing was like me and it all had something to do with when the department of education came to kindergarten and tested my IQ and gave my parents a very important letter about Your Child), and perhaps a subconscious desire to communicate that difference through my hair? Or not. I don’t know.)

  • Marcella

    I have very little and flimsy hair, so I have had it short for most of my life. Every hair stylist that has touched my hair agreed with me that short hair like a pixie or a bob looks much better on me than long locks.
    However, when I was 16 and had a pixie, I was occasionally mistaken for a boy, which is not particularly good for your confidence if you are a teenager. Another thing that doesn’t help is that somehow women are not generally perceived as attractive anymore if they cut their hair to a short length. Which is obviously rediculous!

  • I don’t think there is anything more unpredictable than our hair

    http://tostylewithlove.com/

    Daphne

  • Marianne Ronsse

    there are SO many things in this article that I can relate to!
    Like you said, we could all “expand upon our relationship with hair”.
    But I’m so glad Amelia shared this “grey hair” thing, because I’ve had exactly the same problem! Ever since I turned 25, I’ve gotten a lot more grey (actually they’re white, but as they blend in with my dark brown hair, they make it look grey) hair on the side of my face. And it got me feeling a little depressed at first, but then I decided to colour it and now I’m not even giving it a second thought 🙂

  • emily

    I honestly go through wanting to cut my hair at least once a year, usually from looking at old pictures and being like wow i liked it so much, but then i think about how much work it was lol, anyways if youre thinking about cutting your hair you should def give it a look.

    http://www.emilylovesmakeup.com/hair-cut-regret/

  • Natella Klycheva

    All my life I am fighting with my hair, i love it when its blow dried, but i love having it naturally curly too, but it rarely looks good. And now at 23 i think should just cut it pixie, mayne ill be free then of my hair “looks good or not” paranoia,like in that commercials of Aussie Shampoo.lol

  • Hair

    Being a haircutter for 50 years to many women are putting their hair under torture by wanting to be someone they’re not . What is fashionable in hair is not what a magazine tells you it’s what suits YOU. If you want to see what natural hair beauty is about look at my Wabi Sabi haircuts that are all product free http://www.facebook.com/dario.cut.club.education voihaircuts.com.au

  • Hannah Cole

    Totally the same as Amelia too – my hair is where my biggest fear lies since it literally is my security blanket. I’m so used to long locks, but at the same time I hate them for all their knots and mess. At the same time I could never chop it off, as much as I want to, would it still be me? What would it look like and how would I even style this thang? But maybe it’s just time to step up and take a chance. It’s good to get out of that comfort zone every once in a while.

  • starryhye

    Awesome dialogue here! Hair is so extremely personal and inextricably tied to a woman’s self worth. At around age 13 my hair went from being normal/thick to a frizzy, wavy, poufy triangularly shaped mess. As if puberty wasn’t tough enough, amiright!?! It took me a good 5 years to learn how to coax that mess into semi-decent curls. It sounds cheesy, but I really credit Sarah Jessica Parker/Carrie Bradshaw for helping with that! Seeing SJP in Sex and the City was the first time I’d ever seen someone with hair similar to mine.

    As I’ve progressed through adulthood, my hair has become a bit of a trademark. I stand out and people remember me; maybe because of my hair, maybe because of my boisterous personality ;). I rarely wear my hair straight, and when I do my friends and husband always say they prefer the curls.

    Another thing that I believe has helped with my “curl acceptance” is the proliferation of products made for curly hair. Back in the 90’s you were hard pressed to find products made for curly hair. There was that god awful, extra hold gel that made your hair crunchy and that’s it. There are A TON more options now and that’s pretty awesome.

  • Joshua Michael

    how did I miss this post! this may be one of my favorites. as a male growing up, it was just normal to have a fade, or a crew cut, or just short hair in general. I was an 80s baby so aside from my mother allowing a rat tail to grow when i was a toddler, my hair had always been SHORT. From age 5-12 i had a straight bowl cut because #90s. Middle school through high school was either buzz cut or faded but nothing with real substance. When I got to college i still had that but around the end of my sophomore year circa 2007, I began the growing out of my hair. I had had short hair ALL my life and wanted to do something different. So it began it’s interesting the phases growing your hair goes through as a guy. First you start getting that mop cut, like a surfer out of cali or something like that and you feel all cool and sexy and the man. But then it gets to that Justin Beiber (early 2000s) or even emo look where you cant stand your bangs in your eyes and you are praying for the day when it’s long enough to put behind your ears. Then it is finally long enough to put up in a short pony then a few months go by and it’s smooth sailing MAN BUN city. I have never looked back and as I graduated and grew up and cultivated my fashion sense, my hair followed. I braid (regular, french, fishtail, A$AP Rocky style, etc…), I top knot, I man Bun, I straighten…All depending on my mood and of course outfit for the day (feminine vs masculine). Like you @ameliadiamond:disqus, I have recently discovered a few LONG, not gray but WHITE as teeth hairs growing from my dome and I am soooo excited for that to come into full fruition and embrace the blanco (i have a wizard beard too so can you imagine when this baby is peppered with white too??) Bottom line is I’ve grown so in love with my hair since I have started the journey of growing it out and I dont know how, or if I’d ever be able to part. IT’S JUST TOO MUCH DAMN FUN!

    P.S. I’m natural, never dyed or had anything synthetic done with my hair and I hope to keep it that way ^_^

  • Lulu

    I know that my comment is 3 mths behind all the rest , but I stumbled upon this blog post while reading your post about Rosie Assoulin this week.I was so excited and impressed (ugh that sound so pretentious) but true because I have never read an article about hair with such a diverse opinion. I could completely relate to all of you!! My genetics are quite a cocktail and my hair is a direct reflection of them ( it’s naturally curly but I always relaxed or straightened it) I always felt that I had a pretty rational perspective on hair, until Iast year when went I did the “Big Chop” !! Needless to say afterwards I was a hairless hot mess, I had no idea how attached I was to my hair or how my hair had become such a huge part of my identity. It felt like the moment my hair stylist made the first cut I had lost critical parts of who I was,( I know how dramatic that sounds but sometimes you don’t realize how well you mask you insecurities). I know now that cutting my hair was probably the best thing I could have done for myself, I felt liberated!! Ive come to embrace and love myself outside of what’s aesthetically pleasing. Thank you !!! I feel so empowered by all of you!! Man Repeller I’m a Eternal Fan!!!j

  • I am now catching up on the MR archives. (Looked back and saw this was in 2015 so not really archives and I am not a stalker for reading this now).

    Love the interviews/ article and the honesty. Its deifinitely got me thinking.

    http://www.fashionandfrappes.com

  • This is such a good read! My hair has always been so important to me. Naturally my hair is straight and blonde but from the beginning of high school until about a year ago (about 7-8 years), I consistently lightened it. I don’t know why really, but I felt like that was my identity so I just kept doing it. People have always told me how lucky I am to have the hair I have, and I haven’t felt that way up until I stopped lightening my hair. It’s half grown out now and I just let it do it’s thing, I’m just starting to feel happy with my natural look, I don’t feel like I have to cake on the makeup up anymore! I also cut my hair shoulder length at the beginning of high school and hated myself for it, so I spent the next 7 years growing it long again. Now I have shoulder length hair that I absolutely love and really can’t see myself having long hair again. It’s so interesting how much things change.

    http://www.rosiemay.co.nz