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Monday, September 11, 2017

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow? by Karla Stover


I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my air. Evel Knievel

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Lady Godiva hid her nakedness with hers. Little Women's Jo March cut hers off. Anne (of Green Gables) Shirley died hers green. Evel Knievel aside, Coco Chanel said "A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life." The thing is--these days, it's hard to find a woman with short hair. And we're not very original. Our contemporary hairstyles go way back--as far back as 4th century B.C., when women "used combs and hairpins in their tresses . . . believed thick hair was best and used hair extensions and wigs made of real hair or sheep's wool. They even dyed their hair and wigs a variety of colors, with blues, greens, blondes and golds being their favored choices." In ancient Greece, women pulled their hair into chignons, which they sometimes dyed red, and, if they could afford it, then sprinkled with  gold powder. Roman women often made wigs and ringlets from the hair of their slaves.

From the 16th to the 19th century, European women began wearing smaller hair coverings, or ornaments such as jewels, feathers, ribbons and flowers, or "small crafted objects such as replicas of ships and windmills." Bound hair was pious, and who hasn't seen or read the sexually-symbolic gesture of pulling of a woman pulling out her hair pins and letting her locks fall with abandon?

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During the Renaissance, women often lightened their hair and then French braided it with jewels and ribbons. In the time  of Elizabeth I, red hair was popular. And all over Europe, Women were wearing snoods or balzos or decorated cauls made from a variety of things.

In a style called the hurluberlu coiffure women actually cut their hair and styled it "in a mop of downward-pointing curls which were arranged thickly at the back of the head and neck." However, short hairstyles didn't last. Updos and buns, curls and swirls came back and apparently are here to stay. has "Haute Hairstyles for Women over 50" and there it is, all that hair hanging down, accentuating what nature is already doing to the mature face.

But, getting back to Jo March, the Victorian era, thanks to the American Civil War and Queen Victoria (called the Monarch of Mourning by was a period of extreme sentimentality, and one result of that was the idea of making watch fobs, jewelry, corsages, and wreaths from human hair. What could be more romantic than sending your sweetheart off to war with a bracelet made from your hair, or to weave locks from deceased family members into earrings, necklaces, or wreaths to hang on the wall?

According to the book, The Art of Hair Work, the Norwegians were among the first to come up with the idea of jewelry made from human hair, and then the French perfected it. Between  1859 and 1860, the United States imported somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 pounds. The same source also mentions people whose hair turned white overnight from grief. (It happened to a neighbor of mine.) Or changed color from fright.

My heartfelt pleas go to many mature women who are still in the limelight: Kathy Lee Gifford, for example, and Angie Dickinson (who hasn't changed her hairstyle since her days on Police Woman )and especially Marie Osmond ( she could loose another five pounds if she chopped off that mop).

                                         Please cut your hair.




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