Of hair. A hairstyle goes a long way in defining how you look; it can make you or break you. No wonder all of us our obsessed with it. Well, obsessed may be a tad strong, maybe concerned, or worried. I think I swing between obsessed and concerned, that’s how worried I am about my hair and how it makes me look. Lord knows I am no beauty queen and I need all the help I can get from my hair to make me a little more presentable and look-able. And so I am constantly chopping off my hair in search of the perfect hairstyle so that I can hopefully come close to being a sight for sore eyes, not that I harbour any illusions that I will end up looking like a movie star.
As kids my sister and I longed for long flowing hair, but my mother would have none of it. And my sister was quite unfortunate in that she went to PC Girls School, the prescribed haircut there being hair should be so short the tip of your ears should be visible, and no hair falling on the eyes - the eyebrows should be clearly visible. In short, the helmet hair. She endured nine years of that. Even though I went to a different school I sported the same style. We would take a bedsheet or shawl or long piece of cloth and tie it around our heads so that it falls down on our backs and we’d pretend it was our hair. And during the corn season we would take the golden coloured corn hair and put it on our heads and for a while feel very good about ourselves.
I sported the helmet look until I was sixteen, when my mother finally allowed me to grow it long. It was supposed to feel good, to feel grown up, having long hair, but I discovered it really was no big deal. It was the same hair which I’d had for years – thin, brown, fine, albeit a little longer. I duly wore it long for about four years, until I yearned for hassle free hair that doesn’t need combing and doesn’t stick to your neck on hot summer days, so I cut it short. Very short. Big mistake. I looked like a schoolboy. A boy friend said I looked like a madman. It took a couple of years for my hair to get back to normal. By normal I mean shoulder length. I then patiently let it grow, trimming the edges now and then. But the grass is always greener on the other side and quite a few times I had gone over and tried something new, but never anything as drastic as the schoolboy look. Currently I am somewhere between the schoolboy and the shoulder length, you know one of those short-at-the-top-but-a-bit-long-in-the-back kind of thing.
All said and done, I still like short hair. Sure, long hair is beautiful, it makes one feminine and graceful and your crowning glory, men are crazy about it etc etc, and I love long hair, but not on me. When I see girls with long smooth hair I’d go “Wow it’d be nice having hair like that” but the moment my hair goes past my shoulders I strain my neck looking for the nearest place where I can chop them off.
Short hair is confident, it is sexy, and it is self-assured. But long hair is embedded in our minds as the symbol of beauty, fertility and whatnot, even in our stories the beautiful maiden always has long flowing silky hair. You’d never hear of the heroine in a helmet haircut waiting to be rescued from the dragon, or the bald beauty locked up in a tower waiting for her prince, or the strand of shoulder length hair that impressed a king so much he sent his men looking for the maiden to whom it belonged.
Men are hairier than women. They have hair in places we don’t. So I think it is only natural that they should be the ones with long hair and we women should all go tonsured. Then they can talk with their men friends about shampoos and conditioners and colours and styles and hairbands and hairclips. And women can talk about head polish and head cream and head lotions and head perfume and head makeup. It’d be fun.
But that is just a theory. A figment of my imagination. I hate men with long hair. Men with long hair should be punishable by law. Men don’t look good with long hair unless they are sportspersons or rock stars. The average guy on the street who thinks he looks real cool with his slick ponytail or gelled shoulder length hair makes me want to go on a hunger strike. Not to mention it makes him look like the guy in a porn movie. And adds years to his face. So if you want to look like an aging B grade actor, go ahead, avoid that barbershop. And if I see you the streets I would pretend not to know you. It'd be fun.