Hair: A Love-Hate Story

By Brinley Knopf

As someone who has done everything to domesticate the Wild Curl of my hair—by which I mean I would fry it with a straightener until silken—I am but acutely aware of hair.

We’ve all had ‘bad hair days’, and I’ll set the scene: it’s limp, greasy, wild – you’re crying, bribing, swearing all before 7AM. Or you have ‘good hair days’ when it falls just right, curls just so, and you spend the entire day a shampoo spokesperson – “oh, I woke up like this,” you say, belying that you spent an hour with a curling iron. Hair is more than just hair; it’s a reflection of you!

“[Hair is] malleable; we can change it so easily in ways we can’t change any other part of our body. It becomes a reflection of who that person is, and a sign of our identity,” explains Rose Weitz, an Arizona State University women and gender studies professor. Hair comes in all shapes and sizes – mohawks, bobs, quiffs, the Male Undercut, braids, beehives, the Bieber Bowl of 2010, mullets, natural, perms, pixie, the Rachel, the spiked, the Princess Leia, the Rapunzel. We go through phases. For me, I’ve had a greased poodle ‘do, it’s been big and bushy, with bright highlights or cut choppy; each look telling my story at that place and time.

As humans, and people with eyes always looking for the “ooh, pretty” thing, hair is a part of perception. “True love is having a crush on him even after he got a haircut,” says a Tumblr post, and while it is an archetype—shallow, too—funnily enough, it’s not so funny. According to science, we equate hair with health; but if I read any more research about how long hair makes women more “fertile” or “more beautiful” I might cut my hair even shorter. There is no “perfect” hair; fine, thick, balding, greying, frizzy, long or short, Skrillex or buzzed, it’s your hair!

We see ourselves through special goggles; we don’t winnow our faults but exacerbate them. For those of us with hair not innately from a Pantene commercial, we can find ourselves ashamed of our natural hair. So we straighten it, we dye it, we damage it – all to liberate ourselves from our “bad” hair. But sometimes, the true liberation is in letting our natural hair flow. When I finally realized I had to stop trying to tame my hair and let the Wild Curl be free, I learned to love it. And you can, too. Not to say you can’t dye your hair a badass blue—you do you.


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