Hair, Teenagers and Peer Pressure
Teenagers can often be seen hanging around on street corners. Whilst they may be misbehaving and getting up to the mischief teenagers sometimes get up to, a lot of the time they are just happily talking as they genuinely do not have anywhere else to go.
One thing does however consistently stand out when you walk past a group of youths on the streets – the way in which they all look the same, from the same trainers, to the same jeans and coats, and especially the same hairdos.
Teenager’s hairstyles are arguably one of the biggest indicators of this intense level of peer pressure and unwillingness to counteract the fashion of a particular group of friends, or sometimes the whole school, to risk falling out of popularity.
Youth Subcultures and Hair
Whilst teenagers regularly use their hair like their clothes and their makeup as a form of expression, it can rarely be called “self-expression” and should be perhaps re-named as “group-expression”. A good example of this type of expression, which is unique to teenagers, was in the 1960s, when many teenagers, particularly in the United States, put flowers in their hair to represent love and peace and was meant to be seen as some kind of anti-war statement.
In the 1980s, many European youths dyed their hair bold and wonderful colors and donned equally as bold hair cuts to adapt to the punk movement that was sweeping its way across Europe at the time. Expressing views and visions through teenage hair is not confined to the West, as today in Korea many youths are choosing to color their hair to deliberately stand out and ‘collectively’ look different.
Whilst many of these youth subcultures, which involved a drastic change in their hair, may cause anguish amongst parents and be the source of many an argument, radically altering their hairstyles in order to adhere to a certain fashion or belief, is hardly an act of fear or offense, and often upsets nobody except the teenager’s parents.
Although there have been examples of more fear-provoking and radical subculture movements, who used their hair as a tool to be conspicuous and invoke feelings of intimidation and fear in society, namely the skinheads, who's shaven heads raged riot through the streets of Great Britain in the 1960s.
Contemporary Culture and Teenage Hair
Today we live in ‘celebrity culture’, where there is an obsession with pop stars, TV personalities and reality television, which enables untalented people to be lifted to the territories previously only actors and rock stars could reach, overnight. This obsession is so intense that people, particularly amongst impressionable teenagers, who regularly scrutinize their favorite celebrity and copy any slight fluctuation in their choice of hair style.
There is also an amount of peer pressure operating today which involves which celebrity is considered ‘cool’ and worthy of copying. For example, when Jade Goody appeared on the UK’s Big Brother series and assailed her way into becoming a household name, teenagers across the nation, whilst excitingly talking about the last episode together at school on a Monday morning, would all turn up the following day with their hair cut and colored the same as Jade Goody. The girl, who resembled Jade the most, was the most admired.
Christina Aguilera and Brittany Spears are two teenage idols who have aspired millions of teenage girls to have the same hairstyles, which consequently led to a classroom of 30 girls all looking like the American pop stars. Three of the most popular celebrities, which teenagers are under pressure to look and have their hair like currently, are Lindsey Lohan, Hillary Duff and Brenda Song.