Why hair is so much more than just ‘hair’

It’s not uncommon to wake up in the morning, lament your bed-trodden, non-compliant hair and decide: “today is just not my day”. Or, conversely,  wake up one day, decide to seize that glorious spring in your step and head straight to the hairdresser’s, taking that almighty leap into the world of above-the-shoulder. 

Let’s be real here, ‘bad hair’ is not exclusive to any gender, sex, ethnicity or age and its impact runs much deeper than what those deceptively few pieces of untamed strands might suggest. 

In other words, hair is not just a collection of dead follicles sitting undisturbed on the top of your head. That mane of yours has come to imbue so much of your identity; its significance extends far beyond the purely physiological . 

As far as history can recall, hair has symbolised a myriad of different beliefs; acted as a means of unifying political rebels; and has even been used as a weapon for subverting traditional gender norms. 

Hair’s shaping of  identities has stretched across both time and space: think 60s America, where long hair came to symbolise the hippy movement, or in Southern Asia where a monk’s shaved head evokes his celibacy. 

Or how often have you ever thought about the real meaning behind ‘letting your hair down’? Aside from being the order you bark at your best mate as you bully them to stay out longer, the saying originates from the gay communities in the early 20th century. It was used to indicate an individual’s openness about their sexuality – now more commonly understood as being in “or out of the closet”. 

So go on, it’s 2019, time to regain ownership of your hair- your identity relies on it.