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Why Hair Is So Important

Girl with scissors and her hair in a ponytail

When Anne Hathaway cut her hair short it was a feast for the media and her picture was everywhere from news sites to Facebook. You may have wondered too „What is the big deal?“ Our hair is one of the most important features that we use to present ourselves. Hairstyles are talked about, worried about, judged, coveted, copied, loved or hated. Whatever the emotion is, it is as strong as Rapunzel's braid.
 
It can be source of self confidence and a creative way to express our personalities. But there is a deeper source to all of this and the importance of hair goes way beyond fashion and the current trends.
 
“If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle,“ said Hillary Rodham Clinton and this quote illustrates not just the vanity of our society but also how strong the effect of a hairstyle and the change thereof can be.
 
The mystique of hair does not only affect women, male politicians also know very well that the way they wear their hair will have a direct impact on how they are seen by the public and that it could cost them more than a few votes if they appear with a shaggy do.
 
Hair is Power
 
The industry for male hair replacement is constantly growing despite new trends for „bald is sexy“. From hairpieces to transplants men spend billions every year to replenish what nature and hormones took from them. No matter what the cost or how awkward and painful the procedure may be, for the sake of appearance and self esteem nothing comes in the way.
 
A thick head of hair still stands for virility in men and for fertility and sex appeal in women. There is a reason why mermaids are always depicted with long flowing hair and the princesses in all fairy tales are admired because of their luxurious locks.
 
Arizona State University sociologist Rose Weitz could not agree more to the power of hair and interviewed 74 women and girls for her book „Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells us about Women's Lives“. The interviews are backed with historical research and long observations in hair salons to illuminate our relationship with our follicles.
 
Hair plays such a big role for three basic reasons. "It is personal, growing directly out of our bodies," Weitz said. "It is public, on view for all to see. And it is malleable, allowing us to change it more or less at whim. As a result, it's not surprising that we use our hair to project our identity and that others see our hair as a reflection of our identity.“
 
To Hair or not to Hair
 
Just as important as the hair we carry on our heads is the treatment of the rest of the hair on our bodies. Studies have been made about men's beards and the role of chest hair. At the same time the removal of hair in unwanted places from legs, bikini zone, nostrils and ears has become a major concern and also sparked the birth of new products and businesses within an ever expanding industry.
 
Just think wax, lasers, lotions and potions together with all of the electrical devices designed to rid ourselves of currently socially unacceptable hair growth.
 
In the Workplace
 
We are all aware of the Military regulation cuts but in civilian life there are many companies who not only have strict dress codes but also distinct rules for hair. Some are written, others are implied and understood by the initiated like a secret code.
 
Employee handbooks regulate everything from hair colors to hair lengths. It is also noticeable that people on management and executive levels show a certain range of classic and neutral looks that almost seem to be uniform. Power haircuts do exist just as power suits and briefcases.
 
Color your hair pink and you will not only get strong reactions from your friends and family, but it might just earn you a pink slip very quickly.
 
Even in the most modern collections of hairstyles there is a difference between casual and formal looks, between the trendy and the classic. Of course it is the latter that is the most acceptable in professional settings. Career looks for women hardly cross the shoulder line and for men the magical zone is the ear which should remain open and neatly outlined by very short hair on the sides.
 
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