I cut off my long hair (described in the previous post) for two reasons:
- It was life draining to maintain.
- I felt it symbolised many things I did not want to be associated with.
The first point comes down to the fact the male hair is thicker, coarser and harder to control. I wasn’t in the mood to poison myself with a styling products even if I could have afforded them. Consequently I was spending up to 45 minutes a day washing and drying my hair. All the maintenance didn’t eliminate the fact that long hair is miserable in hot whether. In winter, an improperly dried pony tail would freeze giving new meaning to the term cold shoulder.
It was the day to day hassle that got to me to stumble off to the barber shop. Yet the underlying assumptions and adjectives of having long hair were already grating on me.
Most of these are it built on the hippie stereotype from the flower power days. Arty is the most prominent odorous association — expanding to some association with the visual, musical or liberal arts. If he is in the shadow of 40 there is an expectation of some kind of beard. Politically the there are links with the left but without the inconvenience of socialist regimentation. Lately it has also come to mean some sort of activism. Often of the environmental kind.
Dress and grooming are obvious critical factors for differentiating long hairs. Neat expensive suits indicate the corporate side of the spectrum. Perhaps a millionaire, an IT guru, a designer of some sort (frequently fashion/inderior). Advertising is said to be a profession where pony tails are common as it hair styling.
Dishevelment points in the other direction: a lower rung in the ladder of academia, impoverished activism, and of course The Arts. Long hair is practically a uniform of musicians and artists irrespective of success, fame or talent. It is a proclamation of a commitment to “higher” things as opposed to the superficialities such as hair cuts. At the dregs dishevelled long hair is a sign of less than harmlessly eccentricity, flaky hippiedom and insanity.
There is also a naive perception particularly among naive younger women encountered in first year drawing classes that long hair indicates a “sensitive” man. Specially if he is from the spiritual east. Like Yanni.
However long haired tough guys like Steven Seagal, David Carradine in Kung Fu, and Adrian Paul as Duncan McLeod in the Highland TV series all had the arty, mystic touch. Of course there are the Hells Angels biker, our very own “yakko”s and organised crime figure stereotypes as well. Not very positive associations that we’d rather not discuss,
To short hairs, the pony tailed/long haired man sends a subliminal announcement of arrogance, of being talented, of being better. Its is a silent arrogantly selfish fuck you to conformist, institutional culture, the traditional, the old, the authoritarian and a life of chartered accountancy. Long hair creates a subtle ripple of tension in mainstream circles. All fine and dandy if you want to declare yourself an artiste.
I have never sort such a title and actively run away from it. Consequently long hair was inventing assumptions about me that are wrong and tedious to deal with. Yet in the end what mattered to me was that with a few snips I go about 45 minutes of my life back.