hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

03 April 2013

Out of Our Pores

Hair is said to be stronger than rope. When wrapped together, strands of hair can become unbreakable bonds of keratin. Whether it be on our heads, faces, arms, legs, chests, toes, or any combination of these, most of us have this substance seeping out of our pores. It is strong, it is powerful, and it has potential. Whether or not we employ this potential for the sake of expression, it remains. We call it hair.

As humans, we are mammals, and unlike many of our kind, evolution has carried us to become significantly less hairy creatures over time. Despite the fact that we have so little hair in comparison to our comparable animal species, such as dogs, gorillas, and woolly mammoths, much time and management goes into the industry of caring for and dealing with hair. We care about the color, the length, the texture, the way its shaped, its thickness, its volume, its body--and how it represents us as members of a civilized culture. The social constructs behind hair, this natural part of our bodies, are pointlessly complex and restrictive. Women are expected to shave their legs and wax their bodies, becoming relatively hairless besides the hair on the top of their heads--of which they are expected to keep well-maintained and styled. Men are typically viewed in the opposite sense--to have hair on their bodies but short hair on their heads. While modern times have been able to minimize the stigma behind this constructed "rule," as women are typically seen to have hair of any length while some men sport long hair, there is still a clear distinction between the hair lengths and styles of men and women. Regardless of length, women are expected to have their hair styled and well-maintained, while there is no expectation for men. Breaking from this gender normative lens, additional constructs and expectations are formed for people who may be gender non-conformist. Also, despite this U.S.-centric lens, other cultures have different values behind body hair and acceptable hair styles. With all these factors playing into the boundaries for style, true expression over the artistic medium stemming from our bodies is censored by the culture we live in. In order to truly express oneself via hair, the individual must be willing to break the mold and not fear the snap judgments of other members of society who may fear this deviation from the norm.

Whether it be a woman letting her leg hair run wild or a man taking a curling iron to his beard, hair can become an expressive medium if given the chance to grow.

1 comment:

  1. I can really relate to this post because my blog is on hair and the way it represents a culture. You said, "The social constructs behind hair, this natural part of our bodies, are pointlessly complex and restrictive." I totally agree. In my culture, the way black women have been processing their hair in order to make it look like white hair has oppressed our race for years. Finally black women are trying to get back to their roots, literally, and are "going natural." Even still, the focus on hair and how it defines us the topic of discussion. When will we as black women decide that we are not our hair? The world will never know.