Friday 2 September 2011

What does women's hair look like?


I have quite forgotten.


When I was a kid, dyed hair was rare: something done by young women trying to attract attention (the bleached 'platinum' blond) and the 'woman of a certain age' unconvincingly pretending to be younger than she was.

Hair dying was primitive, and dyed hair looked unnatural.

But hair is a naturally primary signal of attractiveness, an advertisement of health and youth. A healthy young woman's hair was her glory; a glory that lasted - like her youth - only a few years.


By my late teens there were also people (women and men, by then) who dyed their hair as a statement of tribal loyalty - punks and the like. The hair was deliberately non-natural, strange colours, striped etc.

But dying technology improved and it became possible to dye hair almost realistically (at a price). Soon every woman had dyed hair - old, middle aged and young.

Sometimes it was a realistic mimic of natural hair, sometimes a statement of loyalty, sometimes it was merely dyed...


To see natural hair has become a rare event - there is no more glory.


So, what were the original motivations for dying hair? Oh yes, to attract attention and to pretend to be younger.

What used to be rare motivations are now the norm.

We have shifted from asking: why do you dye your hair? (what are to trying to prove?), to why don't you dye your hair? (what are you trying to prove?). 


But since young women conceal their glory by hair dye, and since many dyes look merely mousy and do not attract attention, the explanations do not cover the facts.

Universal hair dying is just another example of the susceptibility of women to peer pressure, and the ability of the mass media to simulate peer pressure.

Hence we get the phenomenon of fashion which is intrinsically meaningless in terms of its specific content, but deeply meaningful in terms of revealing of the emptiness - indeed self-loathing - of mainstream modern humans.

Fashion makes people uglify themselves (permanently and grossly in the case of tattoos and piercings), impair function, risk disease, repel those whom they would like to know, and work harder at jobs they hate (in order to pay for the fashions).

What cannot fashion make people do? - especially women.


So long as a person, a people, are enslaved by fashion - by a thing intrinsically meaningless, intrinsically harmful - then they are indeed slaves and little good can be expected from them.

If you are looking for hope - look to the unfashionable.



dearieme said...

"the susceptibility of women to peer pressure": we saw an article recently about which child to send to private school if you could afford to do it for only one. My wife said "send the daughter" for just your reason. I said "what about black boys?" We looked at each other and said, simultaneously "Diane Abbott".

Bruce Charlton said...

Note: In case, like me, you did not understand the reference, Diane Abbot is:

Wm Jas said...

The majority of Taiwanese women, and an increasing number of men as well, dye their hair just a shade lighter than its natural color. I've been told this is to "make the head look smaller," though I'm not sure why it would do that or why you would want to.

The Crow said...

My wife is 68, and still has natural golden-blonde hair, halfway down her back.
We must have saved a fortune on dyes, hairdressers, and assorted beauty products.
Very, very unusual.

Wurmbrand said...

As a college teacher, I see lots of young women in the course of my work week. This discrepancy between fashion and beauty presents itself often.

The justification for jewelry, tattoos, studs and rings would seem to be, I'd have thought, to draw they eye to something beautiful, to accent the beautiful.

A woman with a particularly lovely neck might draw the eye to it by wearing a necklace. A woman with graceful ankles and feet might wish to draw the eye there. And so on.

Leaving aside the circumstances in which, if at all, it is appropriate to seek to draw the eye to one's beauty -- It would seem ill-advised to draw the eye to features that are not particularly attractive. But you see, for example, women with large, stubby toes that have been painted. I remember after the passage of quite a few years a female student with a rather substantial, fleshy nose who'd had a stud placed in one nostril. The area indeed seemed somewhat inflamed. Examples could be multiplied.

The idea seems to be that the object per se is beautiful or cool and therefore that wearing it will transfer that beauty or coolness to oneself... I'm not sure that's true.

Anonymous said...

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." - Oscar Wilde.

B322 said...

This thread is so sad and so true.

I once knew a quite obese woman who obsessed about shoes, presumably since, unlike the rest of her, her feet were about normal in size. Then one day I noticed she had adorned her Crocs with the little plug-ins, each bearing the face of a tiny pig.

Women used to work hard to stay beautiful so they could find a husband and keep his interest. TANF and the other government programs have made husbands unnecessary, while life insurance has you rooting for your husband's tragic death.