Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

I am tired of having shitty haircuts. Since I cut my long hair off at 17, I have only let it grow past that awkward stage between chin and shoulders once, and I was so bored with it by then that I decided to get an asymmetrical cut which evolved into half a shaved head, and now I’m left desperately trying to make that mistake look good as it grows out (over 6 months and it’s starting just now, kind of, to look alright). My hair has always affected me in the confidence department, which would be fine if my hair was easy to make look good, but unfortunately, it isn’t. I sometimes wonder if my life would be different if I had never decided to cut my hair off.

I’ve recently decided that once the two sides of my hair are within an aesthetically pleasing range of each other’s lengths, I will hang up my scissors for good, and never let anyone except a qualified hair dresser go near my head again, cutting only for trims, fashionable styling be DAMNED, I just want long hair again.

Through my search for hair growth inspiration on the internet, I came across a story about a study the American government supposedly carried out during the Vietnam War on Native American soldiers. The source is a little dubious (it sounds more like an urban legend than a documented study, complete with vague racial stereotyping) BUT the ideas brought up are interesting- when the government conscripted Native American “trackers” to the army for their proven tracking skills, once they entered their training they lost all their skills, which the native men attributed to the fact that they were forced to cut off their hair. This text was all like “ooo they had psychic abilities and it came from their hair, beautiful mystical natives tralalalalala”, which I think is pretty offensive to the cultural realities of these people (being forced into the army, forced to cut off their hair then sent to Vietnam, OBVIOUSLY they’re going to shut off and not want to perform like circus animals), but it speaks so much about the connection between hair and the way one feels about themselves.

There is another belief, held by Sikhs, that hair acts as a sort of spiritual “pranic” antenna. To cut hair is to hinder the effectives of this antenna for life force, and once hair has grown to it’s fullest length, the energy normally put into growing the hair (specifically phosphorous, calcium and vitamin D, according to Yogi Bhajan) is transferred into brain processes and the heightening of spiritual attunement or something. If hair can indeed reach a final, mature length, then this kind of makes sense to me. Lots of nutrients go into making hair, once that process is complete the energy has got to go somewhere, right?

I also read an anecdote on a long hair forum (everything exists on the internet!) that the roma gypsy women believe that the longer the hair, the stronger the psychic ability.

I want some more scientific studies on hair before I make any big calls on the idea of hair being a vehicle for extra-sensory perception or the magnifier of the sun’s power or any of those kinds of ideas, but I am fascinated on the importance of hair in every culture- how it symbolizes gender, sexuality, power, spirituality, maturity, the rest of the body… and the way my own experiences have shaped my understanding of hair.

I have always fantasized about having smooth and shiny amber coloured curls cascading down past my breasts, and I’m pretty sure it has a lot to do with this image and the myriad images that were inspired by it. Long hair with loose: the peak of femininity in my mind, and possibly many others, representing both wildness and serenity. After years of feeling stumpy, vaguely stunted, tom-boyish and clumsy, it would be an incredible change to look at myself in the mirror and think “well hot dang girl, you’re a real woman now”, but is that because it is because my body is trying to tell me that it is natural to have long hair and cutting it off is part of the reason why humanity is sliding quickly down this horribly inevitable out of control spiral shaped slide… or is it because I’ve been bombarded with other people’s ideas, both dead and alive, both respectable (the great masters of painting) and unrespectable (advertising), of what a good woman should look like. I know the power images have over humanity, but I also know that why don’t really know very much the human body, or our own brains, so maybe it’s a big old complicated mix of both, where the natural long hair thing has dictated our idea of beauty. As I said, needs more scientific info.

And what about men? Conservative men have short haircuts, while the more free’n’easy fellas tend to have more unkempt locks. I personally find longer hair on a man extremely attractive, and I’ve always known it’s because of what it represents about their personalities. I had the same thing with tight jeans and fringes when I was 16- at that point in time, it meant the chances of those boys being into The Strokes were much higher, and that was important to me at 16. Unkempt hair is important to me now (now that I really think about it at least).

And again, how do these attitudinal reflections come about? I find the idea of a conservative man cutting off intuition and empathy every time he sits in a barber’s chair (fortnightly?) to be quite a fitting one, but does he know instinctively that the hair cuts are necessary to shut out liberal thoughts? Which came first, the attitude or the hair cut? Could it start in childhood? Do our bodies respond to the amount of hair our parents let us grow versus our natural mature lengths, and that dictates how much we rebel and in what ways we do it as we get older?

Our brains are so ridiculously complex that I feel it’s necessary to ask silly questions like this. There is no obvious answer, and there aren’t enough solid facts to logically break it down either. I want to let my hair grow long because I won’t have to think about how the trendy hair cut I have at any given point should be styled so it looks the way it’s supposed to in the magazines or whatevs. Long hair looks good, it feels good, and if it heightens my awareness of the vibrations of the universe when I get it, then that’s an added bonus I would welcome with open arms.