Hair, Self and Society
This week I have been thinking about hair. Triggered by the article on my Weekend Fashion Bibliography I have been reflecting on my own hair(story) as well as the transformative power of a change in how you style your hair or a new cut. The article tells us that transformations to hair represent moments when the identity position of the model shifts, or is reimagined or reinvented in some way. The case of the models getting a radical new haircut entailed a great risk but also reaped a great reward. It also struck me that the transformations were always repudiating the long, flowing locks idea of beauty in favor of something unexpected, a little shocking, a little edgy, but always resulting in something that made them stand outside of the pack, it was the change in hair that got them noticed.
My hair has always been a big part of my story. For years I wore it long, not to be more feminine necessarily but because it was cool. Parted in the middle and bone straight it was like a long veil that I could hide behind if I wished or pull back and show my full face. For most of my adult life I kept it long and liked my hair except for the times I wanted it to be curly and wild which resulted in some body wave and perm experimentation. Just like the color pink, there were/are social stories and scripts about hair and culture that I have used to my rebellious advantage or challenged in some way. My hair has always been my personal statement of self and society. Every time I have done something to my hair there are emotional implications related to stretching, excitement, desire, wanting, urgency, anxiety, pressure, rebellion, force and yearning. I have often made a radical change in my hairstyle in order to mark an event, to signify a new passage, to cut off expectations, to subvert the old and make room for the new.
My hair has been a big part of my reinvention as a fashion “icon”. It is a co-construction between my Japanese hair stylist and myself. It has visible and hidden undercuts which feels like having a secret and allows for a surprise when my hair is styled upwards or slicked back. It is shaved to my skull in some places and long in others, allowing me to play with my ambivalence. It is my nod to my style icon, Tilda Swinton yet it is absolutely mine. As I become more visible, I see that I have grown it a little longer which allows me a small curtain to hide behind if I wish. As I look back at photos of my life I see now it is the changes in my hair that are telling the real story. It is a signifier always of who I am and who I wish to be. The best part of it all is that it is alive and grows back so it is always self-correcting. It allows for endless risks and reinventions. It always forgives. It never remains the same. It is a personal and creative language to use in constructing your personal style story and it is always in motion.
What story do you want your hair to tell?
Let's read and talk about color for Wednesday.