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The Politics of Hair

A lot can be said about women’s hair. It’s a source of pride for many of us, it’s expensive to maintain, it keeps some of us out of the water and for others it’s just another chore. As of yesterday Kelsie has none and she looks amazing… which just brings us back to our punk rock roots.

Some of the best writing I know of about African American Women and hair can be found on my friend Liz’s blog. First with the Yuko Hair Straightening System and then with the Brazillian Blowout caucasian and latina women were encouraged to dump chemicals on their heads to “fix” the problem of curly or wavy hair.

Recently Vivia Chen wrote a fascinating article about women over 40 and how long their hair should be to look “professional”. She concentrated on law firms and for the 80 bazillionth time in my life I felt great about my decision to forego a sizable scholarship to law school. On Hilary Clinton she says:

So forgive me for pointing out that her hair has been growing like an unruly potted plant in recent months. For a while, she looked nicely put-together. But since she’s been letting her hair grow, Clinton often looks haggard and rumpled.

This made me sad.

As a fashion victim I absolutely must confess that none of these things has made me sadder than the death of my very own blow dryer. For the first time ever I made a video with my wavy hair.

It’s something that Daphne Brogdon and I have talked about. I’ve always admired how she does video on all sorts of hair days, sometimes even without makeup. I’m not there yet.

In addition to having hair past my shoulders and being on the wrong side of 40 (make that 32 in this town) I don’t even have a working hair dryer. Have I made myself old and unattractive? Unpolished? Unemployable?

If my husband ran out of hair gel I’m the only human being on the planet that would notice.

8 thoughts on “The Politics of Hair”

  1. I wore my hair short all through school and early 20s. I wasn’t sure why I did it but when I moved to LA – something changed. I wanted to wear my hair longer and have it styled, etc. I’ve been seeing EJ for about six years now and we both like long hair. When things got tight financially – he taught me how to flat iron my hair and blow dry just like he did (ok, he has a trick because I don’t get it as good as him but that might be his secret). Lately though, I’ve been letting it air dry so I get what you’re saying. I won’t cut it since I like it long and EJ said he didn’t understand why women got to age 40+ and started hacking it off. 

    Oh and before I forget – when I left LA and got a job, I was asked why I wore my hair so long. (Guys, it’s not even at my elbows). Maybe it’s a zip code thing?

  2. I read that article and cringed – I was at a dinner party last weekend as someone’s date and therefore not with my own friends.  Towards the end of the evening one of the women made a rather catty comment along the lines of  “women of a certain age really should re-think the length of their hair”.  I was the only one in the room with hair past her chin (mine hangs several inches below my shoulders). Funny, I was also the only one in the room with a “corporate” job.

    p.s. have you considered a kera-straight treatment?  I started getting them done every 4 months or so last year and have not looked back.  Sure I still blow-dry but not every day and my hair has never looked better.

  3. I saw this photo yesterday (or one like it with your wavy hair) and think it looks gorgeous. I started wearing my hair naturally curly more for budget reasons (can’t afford weekly blowouts when you’re just starting a biz) than for “political” reasons but I really, really love it. 

    The hair convo of the day that is absolutely moronic is the one where all the tweeters are bashing Gold medal Olympian Gabby Douglas cause she’s a black woman who had the nerve to sweat. I’m not even gonna link it here it makes me so angry. We’ve gotta get over this thing. Look however you wanna look and do your shit. If you wanna look “hot” and “polished,” do so, but don’t rest on that thinking the work doesn’t matter. 

  4. Gah. It makes my mom incredibly frustrated that I wear my hair long, and it drives my 16 yo daughter nuts that I wear it naturally wavy. Whatever. I wear my hear long because I like the way it feels and I don’t straighten it because as thick as it is, it would take me forever, and what the hell? It’s thick and shiny and at 41, I have NO gray, which is the universe’s way of apologizing to me for not giving me a tight round ass. Your hair (I won’t speak to your ass) is awesome too and we both look hot, and damn right I can go all corporate professional if I want to, long hair and all.

  5. Oh Jeez, you women with the long thick hair complaining about your long thick hair.  Please!  Try being a post-menopausal WASP; our hair falls out! It  SUCKS!  Ok, done with the hair the rant; don’t even get me started about the post-menopausal redistribution of body fat.  Everybody doesn’t like something about their appearance, but could we please not complain about too much wavy hair? 

  6. Seriously, its ridiculous that no matter what we women do, we are defined by how we look!  OK, maybe we’re to blame for that because we get so anxious about how we do look! (points finger at self)  Aw well, the only thing I can say is that at my age, I’ve gone natural, not because it’s a trend, I’m also growing out my natural hair, so it’s crazy at times and looks sane on good days!  I color it, I do whatever the heck I want depending on the mood I’m in and it’s nobody’s business-unless I want to talk about it!  Why do women over 40 have to have short hair anyway? Although mine is short, it’s getting longer and I’m even thinking about getting a longer braided look or dare I say it….a long straight weave w/bangs! I’m not sure yet, but the sixteen year old in me wants me to! 

  7. It’s a good thing that I do not rely upon my appearance to define ME — The  real me exists with in me — not what everyone sees on the outside.  I am finally in remission from stage 4 cancer– I lost every strand of hair as a result of receiving chemotherapy== today I have a short crew cut after four months of no chemo– not exactly what the world thinks of as being feminine — but what’s more important?  Having shiny groomed locks of hair or just being alive?

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