Saturday, 17 June 2006


"Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen..."
("Hair," from the musical of the same name, lyrics by James Rado & Gerome Ragni music by Galt MacDermot)

Call me vain, but I have always been overly proud of my hair. I was fortunate enough to be born with a thick head of sable brown hair that has only decreased a little (compared to many of my contemporaries) with age. And I was fortunate enough to be born at a time when long hair on men would soon be in fashion. Unlike other generations, mine would not be subjected to the ignobility of the "buzz cut." I suppose I am not alone in being overly proud of my hair. Given the popularity of baldness cures and Just for Men hair colour, I'm guessing a lot of guys are.

Of course, I must admit to being sometimes puzzled by the changes that have occurred in men's hairstyles over the years, not the least of which is the fact that some men's hairstyles are just so unattractive. Indeed, I have never been able to figure out why really short hair sometimes comes into fashion for men. In the Jewish Bible there is the story of Samson, who derived his strength from his hair. Among various Germanic tribes the kings often wore long hair, and only slaves would have their heads shorn. During the English Civil War, the Cavaliers wore long, flowing hair, a sharp contrast with the less glamourous Roundheads who kept their hair cut short. Even as late as the 19th century a decent head of hair was not unknown among men. We still have the picture of my great, grandfather and, even in his older years, he had a good head of hair.

I must admit that I am not an expert on the history of hairstyles, but it seems to me that all of this changed in the 20th century. I know the "buzz cut" came into fashion during World War II and remained popular until Elvis, JFK, and The Beatles made having a decent head of hair fashionable again. And I must point out that when The Beatles first arrived on the scene, they were considered to have long hair, and there were actually accusations from some quarters that they looked like girls! I guess somehow the pendulum had swung so far that near baldness was now considered a sign of masculinity

Fortunately, this changed with the Sixties. Long hair would become fashionable among men again and would remain so throughout the Sixties and Seventies. Since then hair length among men has varied, but at no point has the buzz cut ever become the dominant fashion. And I must confess that I have always been puzzled as to why the buzz cut ever did come into fashion to begin with. I mean, it seems to me that most of the movie stars whom women swoon over had hair (just think of Douglas Fairbanks, Clark Gable, Gene Kelly...). Contrast this with the number of bald movie and TV stars that women consider "sexy." I can think of only one, Yul Brynner, although I know one woman who actually thinks Patrick Stewart is "sexy (I know, I can't explain it either...)." It seems to me that if one wants to attract women (or if one is married, keep his wife happy), unless one is in the military, one should at least keep his hair over an inch!

At any rate, I think my hair has been nearly every length possible. As a very young child, my father gave me crewcuts. As soon as I could I started growing it long. As an adult it was actually down to the small of my back at one point. Right now it is a little over an inch long and I must admit that I like the way it looks (as I said, I'm fortunate that in my forties I've kept most of my hair). For that reason (and the fact that I don't want my head getting frostbitten in the winter) I pray the crewcut and buzz cut never come back into fashion...

1 comment:

Meander said...

just passing through and i must have a very pleasing blog. you write well...i will come back to visit.