A Hairy World
by Gino Fanelli | published Feb. 4th, 2015
Hair is insanely weird.
That may seem like a rambling, nonsensical high school stoner remark sandwiched between "Do we have any ice cream?" and "Family Guy is the greatest show of all time"; however, consider that hair may be the foremost physical characteristic that we take into account when evaluating the social standing of a person. Everything, from the amount of hair on a person's head to its color, can indicate age, ethnicity, affiliation with subcultures or traditional gender roles. In fact, a Harvard study has shown that the human brain is wired to recognize a person's race and sex before any other characteristic. In fact, the brain creates information of what gender and race a person might be so quickly that it takes a moment for meaning to even be applied to these recognitions.
However, it's 2015. Hair, like most things, has grown to eschew typical roles of gender and race, leaning more toward unique self-expression. No longer is there a social expectation for women to hold medium to long hair styled in a professional manner, just as men are not expected to have short, clean-cut locks. Much like tattoos and piercings, hair that deviates from the social norm is becoming more and more accepted in modern culture. To paint the picture of the nature of contemporary hair, we spoke to some people who are rocking the craziest of styles.
"I mean, I wanted to get it done into dreadlocks at some point," Bragg said. "I still kinda want to, but for now I'm just letting my hair be hair."
While Bragg has considered going back to his signature mohawk, for now he's staying with the long-haired style. "Right now, I'm pretty much just letting it grow to as long as it can get."
"I just kinda let it grow," Aurand said. "I don't like getting my hair cut or anything like that, so I just let it do what it wants. I'm really not a big fan of brushing or styling or anything."
Alexis Clemens, a 22-year-old Industrial Design major, currently rocks a crop of neon-green hair atop her head.
"I like to switch it up a lot," Clemens said. "I've had it pink, other shades of green, blue, red, rainbow. Pretty much everything at one point or another. I really don't like how my normal hair looks, because I'm mixed race and because my complexion doesn't really match it."
Clemens, like many who go the route of dyeing their hair eccentric colors, takes a DIY approach to the process.
"I've had it done professionally a couple times. One of the times the girl made it way too dark and emo-looking," Clemens said. "So I usually just do it myself, I really like this stuff called RAW."
However, with the process of DIY hair treatment comes a certain set of dangers.
"I'd like to give a quick PSA to anyone whose planning on dyeing their hair in a dorm for Clorox Clean-Up Gel with Bleach. It's the best cleaner ever, because you will dye on the walls, in the sink, around the tub drain," Clemens said. "I like to read and take baths a lot, and at the end the tub where my head was just ends up covered with whatever color I had the time."
The general question people have when they encounter hair along the lines of Clemens' is the resounding question of "Why?" to which Clemens has a clear response:
"Besides not liking the natural colors of my hair, it's just fun," Clemens said. "It's usually the first thing people notice about me, and it's just a way to be unique and express myself. When I was younger, I always had people wanting to touch my hair because it looked curly and soft. Everyone who doesn't have curly hair thinks they want curly hair. They don't. I'm growing it out right now, but it's always such a hassle to have curly hair that knots up."
Consider, just for a second, that all of your social interactions may be predicated by someone evaluating who you are based off of the keratin follicles hanging off of your scalp. That's pretty mind-blowing, isn't it? It's not something we can exactly avoid as it's mostly just a knee-jerk reaction, much like how people immediately make assumptions about who a person is based off of the clothes they wear or the company they keep. However, making assumptions by looks is becoming an increasingly dated concept, if it was ever a valid one, which leads us to the physical embodiments of the break from the traditional ideas of how a person should look. Yes, that may sound melodramatic as these are simply unique hairdos, but that doesn't mean there isn't an inherent value when someone uses their hairstyles to defy the ordain. Traditional ideas of professional looks, gender roles and racial representation are weird. And hair is fucking weird.