Wednesday 24 September 2008

The Significance of Hair

It is a fact that of all my deepest darkest fears, by far the greatest is one I have no power to prevent, should that dark day loom.

Myself and my best mate were discussing it in the pub recently. 'What would you do if it started?'

If you woke up one morning to find that you could feel your scalp...

That it was happening.
The curse of the male had come...

Because it's true. Most men fear it. And me being vain as hell, and very much in love with my curls, the idea that one day I might have to choose between looking like Montgomery Burns or going the whole hog and having a totally naked head, is not something I relish.

And yet many women say they find bald men attractive.

Doesn't actually seem to matter though. For some reason, that doesn't concern me. What concerns me, is the fact that I wouldn't have a beautiful head of hair. I'm proud of the head of hair IN ITSELF. It's part of the image I have of self. And that's important.

I suppose it was this train of thought got me thinking to attitudes to hair. What does it mean to us?

Well, first is the obvious observation, that women do not by and large tend to suffer baldness naturally. Cases such as Gail Porter stand out.

But interestingly, I find that apparently 'bald women' is a high hitter in the Google search engines. It seems that a lot of men out there find bald women attractive.

Odd, you might think.

Except of course, there IS a certain logic to it.

It's interesting that we tend to groom our body hair generally for simple reasons of hygiene. Although the beard comes and goes with fashion, generally even when it is semi-fashionable, it remains a minority possession. Generally, we seem to prefer clean shaven. Not only women, but most of us males seem to prefer how our face looks without facial hair.

In many ways, hair on the head IS slightly unhygienic, not to mention hazardous. In many ways, it would seem an oddity of human culture that in fact, we DO retain hair on the head at all- either sex.

And the answer would seem to lie in aesthetics. It's kind of like natural clothing.

And I suppose this explains our dual attitude to it. Hair on the head is, effectively, an item of clothing. That is psychologically how we see it, that is the function it fulfills. It fulfills no other function whatsoever, it is an adornment.

So baldness is a bit like nudity. If a man has an attractive face, baldness emphasises it. If he doesn't, baldness emphasises that too.

And I guess the covert interest that has been noted- that many men are interested in looking at attractive bald women is PRECISELY for that reason. It's not usual you get to see a woman THAT naked. And if she's beautiful her baldness emphasises it. If not, it emphasises the reverse. Being judged aesthetically without the adornment of hair is something many men have to deal with one day having to face. The idea of women facing that type of judgement is still, I guess, a novelty.

This would explain why it is the OPPOSITE sex who finds baldness attractive, but most men- and women- fear being bald themselves. Because in a deep rooted psychological way, it feels like nakedness.

Just as we wouldn't go out naked, we fear the fact of going out without our hair. We WANT that adornment. It's pride. And in terms of adornment, long flowing locks are beautiful, they give us dignity, status.

And this moves to the rather odd position of how we view hair as a adornment. Long hair is not quite as acceptable on a male than it is on a woman.
But I'll be honest, if I could have shoulder length curls, I would.

Because the point of hair as an adornment, as with clothing as an adornment, is precisely that.

I often think they had the best solution in the eighteenth century. Every male divested himself of his natural hair and got a long flowing wig. He had total freedom over what his hair should look like.

I'd love to have a set of long, flowing wigs reaching down past my shoulders, lustrous, flowing, tightly curled. I'd have one in black, one in brown, and one in a golden blonde.

I wonder if it will go in that direction. I wonder if one day the culture will change so that no one really has natural hair, which can get caught in things, is potentially unhygienic and over which the owner has little control.

If no one is seen publicly bald, but people wear their hair like they now wear shirts or dresses, an adornment over which the wearer has full choice, but to be seen out without hair really would be like being seen naked.

And if seeing your partner without their wig will be part of seeing them naked, without their wig you see their true beauty, or lack thereof.

I wonder if one day, it will be a part of normal human life- that magic moment when you see your partner for the first time without their hair.


Anonymous said...

To be bald or not to be bald, for now that is the question...

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine is losing his hair, so he just has it cropped short. Looks great.

Anonymous said...

I'm growing my hair out for the last hoo-rah before it's gone! I'll have to post an updated pic soon.

Hair is significant, it traditionally represents virility in men, and fertility in women.

But, as the Egyptian royalty knew, and many other's since then, bald is not only beautiful, but clean. Can't get lice and other vermin if you have a smooth pate.

Anonymous said...

and if I start losing too much, then I'm preempting it and shaving it all off....

who needs it clogging the drain anymore anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, an interesting topic!

Hair is a big deal to girls. Long, short, spiky, curly, loose or pulled back in a bun - it says more than just how you did your hair that day. It almost tells a little story ( methinks)

I hated my hair when it was cut short and spiky. I looked and felt unfeminine - it was a horrible self image that I had of myself and it's taken ages for it grow back and now I have little waves and curls and flicks in my hair and I'm so happy. I feel like a girl again.

Bald heads on men do not bother me at all - I love a man with a shaved head or closely cropped hair..that says to me CONFIDENCE.

But there is this guy who works at a local shop who has his hair in a long blonde plait and I wonder what it would be like to be in bed with him and all that flowing hair. It's kind of a turn on.
Which is weird eh?

Anonymous said...

Close cropped hair on men can look good, however personally, complete baldness is not my thing. Facial hair is a turn off, a few days growth can be sexy as hell but anymore and I don't want to know.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how men's hair follows such a rigid fashion while women seem to have much more freedom in the style.

I remember the long haired fashion for men in the 60's and 70's. Some men had beautiful hair and I would be very happy to see men have long hair again if they had nice hair. Mind you they have to keep it clean and groomed which was not always the case in the previous long haired era.

I married a man who was already going bald so it was no surprise when he was almost completely bald some years later.

Hair keeps the sun off your head and the bald headed old scientist has lots of problems with skin cancer there now. Hats went out of fashion too but they are back again for him at least now.

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying my hair while I still have it. My tonsure and my receding fringe will be meeting up any time soon!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and as for hair, real men have hairy chests lol *sigh*....

Anonymous said...

reminds me of that seinfeld bit about hair, lustrous hair, so beautiful and shimmering...until you find one off-head, like in your soup. then it becomes the most disgusting thing in the world.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy hair on a man. Baldness does nothing for me.

Anonymous said...

Hair is the physical expression of your individuality.

It says so much about a personality.

Anonymous said...

Bud- Well, as things stand, it seems to be incurable. It's definitely something I dread having to face one day.

Ginro- This seems to be the common solution. Toupees of course don't fool anyone.

Yet full wigs are so convincing these days. An ex boss of mine (female) used to wear wigs. You'd never have known.

Eric- I know someone who's doing that. But he can afford to. He doesn't work where he has to be seen by people. One has to give quite a lot up, when one relies on one's appearance.
I used to die my hair Copper Burgundy for many years till I had to give it up.

If I had the choice, I'd have shoulder length hair. I actually believe that as an adornment, long hair suits most men better.

Kate- I once had a skinhead. It didn't suit me. It made my face look quite hard. And I think I had quite a bullet head.

I think there can be something about hair, I'm not ensure whether it's erotic, but I think it does encourage a curious tactility.

My best mate's brother is emphatically not gay, but he has a tendancy to stroke my hair when he's wasted.

And most women seem to like to play with my curls.
I'm not sure it's to do with eroticism. I think it's the same way we stroke dogs.

I've got quite used to my hair being about one and a half- two inches on the back and sides and the hair on the top varying from about four inches to about half a foot (my fringe, when stretched, you wouldn't notice it though, because it curls).

As for the guy in the shop- try it you might like it :)

Nunyaa- I had a goatee in my student days...
And long, shoulder length hair, Burgundy.

A few days growth for me is pretty much a beard- I seem to have growbags under the skin of my face. I'm one of those males who sometimes shaves twice a day. and even then, it still looks a bit like sandpaper.

jmb- I'm amazed to find people who don't wash their hair daily.

Well, my vanity is one reason I fear going bald. I think it would severely dent my confidence and it would probably draw a close to my love life, I think. Mainly because I think I'd lose a lot of my self belief in my physical appearance.

It's interesting that if you're Asian, you can get away with wearing a kerchief or headscarf or whatever you want to call it.

There are several ideas about why evolution caused hair on the head and face to survive when for some reason it disposed of most of the rest.

Protection from the sun is one, but also the idea that it is kind of like a Lion's mane- it survived for reasons of physical appearance and grew to lengths fur doesn't, because it made us look more fearsome.

Anonymous said...

Jams- The Merry Monk, perhaps? :)

You comment put me in mind of the meeting of the Union Pacific and the Central pacific...

Nunyaa- Not necessarily...

Though it would suit me to agree with you ;)

Benjibopper- What about dog hair? It's amazing really, I can go visit my Mum, she has two dogs.

Days later dog hairs are turning up on clothes I wasn't even wearing at the time.

Reeny- Well, I look in the mirror and thank my lucky stars I've still got a full head, a mane some would say.
I must admit, I don't think it suits men. Less than women, in fact. Why we are the sex afflicted with it, I don't know.

Bunny- It does, I think.

When I turned thirty several people said to me 'Now you're thirty, are you going to stop having those little curls at the front. You're getting a bit old for them.'

Er- no. I couldn't give them up. They're me.

My hair is a very big part of me. Perhaps a part of my soul is contained within...

Anonymous said...

For women going bald, I don't think it is that they feel naked. It is just not usual for a woman to go bald and it makes them stand out. So people will stare and wonder why, they will be thinking is it through choice or illness etc.

I suffer from alopecia areata. Whenever I am subjected to high levels of stress a few months later a clump of hair falls out. Recently this happened to such and extent that I am going to have to change my hair style to cover it up.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes think how freeing it must be to not stress about one's hair. I feel terribly vain about how a bad hair day can put me in a bad mood.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thought. I have always have long hair and weirdly, I call shoulder long hair “short”. For me
that is.

Hair really is an ornament, that is why so many cultures & religions “hide” it for the sake of not making the opposite sex lust your for it.

Men and hair. Well, I suppose it depends on the person. Some ppl can pull the stunt of being bald off, and I know few guyz with long hair. Once I actually had to braid once hair cuz I was voted the one with most experience, of braiding that is. It takes me like 10 seconds to braid and during the course of a day, I probably change my hairdo 7 times, simply cuz I can and its easy. And that I get bored.. hehehe

But men and hair. Guess whatever works with you. I usually prefer semilong hair, not short but not to long, just enough for me to run my fingers through his hair and tousle his hair… mmmm…

Wait, what were we talking abt?

Anonymous said...

I started losing my hair in my twenties and went fully in my mid thirties when I took the plunge and had it all close-cropped.

If I'm honest I don't like my image and you put it well when you describe is as a feeling of nakedness and vulnerability.

But to tell you the truth ... from virtually the moment I had it cut off ... I've never had such female attention. I'm not saying that I'm a pin-up or anything - but I'd never had REALLY beautiful women proposition me before.

Anonymous said...

CherryPie- I think that's a changing a bit.
The Lesbian community have of course made female head shaving more mainstream, and it's also more commmon amongst Afro-Carribean and African Women.

I think it is still quite avanta garde, and as you say, often the instinctive reaction is to think 'chemo-therapy', but that could change.

Alopecia must be a demoralising condition, I've known girls who've ben prone to it. I knew one who only got it at the back, so it never showed.

Princess P- Well, this is why I sometimes think a long, flowing, Robert Walpole wig is the solution.

Just put it on in the morning and fix it with a spray so it sticks.

I hate bad hair days. I hate it when my curls won't curl properly.

Crashie- A lot of poetry goes on about a woman's long tresses...

I'm not entirely sure wehy we blandly stick to the natural colours so much either. I only stopped dieing my hair because I had to, but I'd have prefered to carry on doing it. It certainly wasn't a natural shade, but it looked good.

I can imagine you changing your hair every hour or so...

I suppose mine is long by standards of today. I just measured the hair on the back and the sides and it's about four inches. It doesn't quite reach the collar of my shirt, but it's close. And the fringe at it's longest point according to my measurements is over nine inches. It's about six inches on the top of the head. Of course, it curls, so it doesn't look that long- it just is when you actually stretch it out.

E-K- I think it kind of goes against the image I'm most comfortable with.

I suppose I still try aim for the pretty boy look as far as I can at the ripe old age of thirty.

It's just how I prefer to see myself. Though I think my face is looking quite drawn and hard these days. Which is probably why I'm glad I've still got hair to soften that.