No matter if you have silky, sleek strands, wavy locks, bristly bushels or curly ringlets your hair has the uncanny power to make or break your day. It is a little hard to understand why that is, after all hair is just a collection of dead cells (the living part of your hair is hidden under your scalp in the follicles) and the kind on our head has very little practical use, other than keeping hairdressers employed that is. But somehow if we catch a glimpse of ourselves out of the corner of our eye, or full on in the mirror, and our hair doesn’t look the way we want it or expect it to, our smile turns into a frown and our mood takes a trip to the blues.
If you have hair like mine, a wilful curly afro frizz, that seems to lead a life of its own, never asking me what I want, think or need it to do, you may understand my fascination with the fact that hair is, and has always been considered a symbol of beauty, prosperity health – and a very important fashion statement!
After the 16th and 17th centuries, when the bald-headed-look was considered the height of beauty, big hair became the latest trend. If you’ve ever seen the Ghetto Hair Weave’s that some people display on their heads today in the states, you’ll have an idea of the kind of hair they were into back then. Only instead of weaving the designs into their own hair they used wigs, and size mattered. The bigger the better and they even went as far as to put bird-cadges (including live birds) and ships on their heads all in name of fashion.
Not surprising really that as the 19th century rolled around the Victorians got rid of the vermin infested wigs and preferred a more natural look. Instead of massive hairdos and curly ringlets, soft, sleek, shiny hair was what a fashionable lady craved. As wispy tendrils and frizz was considered vulgar and tasteless (no hope for me there) women oiled their hair to smooth it down and give it shine.
With the birth of emancipation in the early 20th century woman cut their hair and the beautiful sleek bob was born. Others chose short hair set in waves but no matter the choice, paired with bright red lips, short skirts and a cigarette the hair on their heads let every one know they were free spirits and independent.
With the invention of curlers in the 50s the lust for what you didn’t have became more possible and in the 60s hair became an object of abuse. Teasing, sculpting, perming and even ironing your hair into an unmovable helmet was the time-consuming pastime of many a hair spray lover.
With the seventies hair was set free again and as Charlies Angles hit the TV screens worldwide, no woman was safe of Farrah-Fawcett-hair-envy. The soft romantic feminine look was all the rage and carried on well into the eighties. Could anyone really forget “Pretty Woman” and the mane of flowing long locks?
Less than a third of all women have curly hair and as it is recessive, (this means you need two genes with the same marker to allow hair to curl) curls could be on their way out, but with the discovery of the “curl-gene” in 2008 maybe changing the hair follicle from round to oval will become a thing of fashion and curls will live on.
Sadly no matter what the state and shape of your hair, a bad-hair-day (unbelievably this phrase was only coined in the 90s) is possibly just around the corner, so let your hair down while you can, don’t split hairs and ruin your day, and if you have a good hairdresser keep their number on speed dial.
(Suburbia Magazine Dec/Jan 2012)