I blame Rapunzel. It’s all her fault. Rapunzel and her stupid long hair that she used to whip out of her window every time she fancied a bit of how’s-your-father with the local prince. You can’t knock her creativity though that’s for sure, using hair as a handy alternative to stairs would be snapped up on Dragon’s Den in a second, I have no doubt.
Amongst other highly important playtime activities growing up, such as putting on Spice Girl performances and making daisy chains, having hair length competitions were a firm favourite. As a child, a squealing “Your hair is SO long” from a fellow female at a sleepover party was the equivalent to receiving an Oscar, if the Oscars started handing out awards for ‘Outstanding Hair Growth’ and such like.
I wish I could suggest that hair becomes less of a priority as you grow older but actually I think the opposite may be true. In fact, the symbolism that hair holds for women is quite astonishing. Every hair advert is filled with obscenely shiny tresses swishing all over the place. YOU’RE WORTH IT, remember? That’s right, you’re not worth anything unless your ‘do resembles that of Cheryl Cole. The amount of time and money we spend on it even more astonishing. Research has found that women spend 294 days a lifetime styling their hair and £26,500 of their hard earned cash. Makes you wonder how much Rapunzel must have spent on hers; avoiding split ends when you’ve got people endlessly climbing up it must’ve been a bitch.
So why do we do it? Femininity is so woven into every over-straightened strand that many women even use it as a cheeky (read: incredi-obvious) flirting technique. Hot man clocked, flirting auto-pilot engaged. Fiddle with hair- check. Touch arm- check. You will probably end up with said hot man’s number but might also end up looking like a giggly cheerleader from a trashy teen flick. According to the Daily Mail (and some random people they have gathered to give this piece some kind of faux-legitimacy) if you do end up cutting off those locks you’re basically trying to tell the world that a) you hate sex b) you want to actively repel men and c) you’d like to have a dalliance into the world of lesbianism. Haven’t you heard? Lesbians can’t actually grow long hair. Their hair follicles are just too gay. Science.
Obviously these experts have never heard of the glorious dreamboat that is Anne Hathaway. Perhaps she is trying to entice women with her new crop. If she is, it’s working. Oh my.
Interestingly, the symbolism attached to long hair has quite a history. Evolutionarily speaking, having long hair is also supposed to indicate that a woman is a healthy specimen. And historically cutting off long hair has been associated with punishment and control of women (see: concentration camps). But obviously my friend Lil didn’t get this memo. Yes, she has bravely decided to, frankly, stop giving a crap about the symbolic nonsense attached to our hair and shave it off to raise money for cancer following the death of a close family friend. Entranced by a sense of idolisation (which I usually reserve only for the likes of Beyonce and the cast of Girls) I asked the lady in question how she feels about her hair.
‘My hair does mean a lot to me, and in a way this is something that does bother me- why should I be defined by my long hair, and why do I feel this connection to my hair? … I am hoping to challenge this relationship’
And when asked about how she might feel after the shave, she said,
‘People’s reaction is going to be an interesting journey, one I can’t help but be intrigued by. Something that will keep my head up is knowing that there are millions of women who have no choice but to be bald, either through Cancer, Alopecia or other illnesses. They bravely battle these stereotypes and reactions daily. I am fortunate to be healthy- I have nothing to be sad about. Those women are the true heroes’.
The inspirational Wonderwoman herself will be joining me for an interview following the head shave on my YouTube channel in May.
If you’d like to donate, visit Lil’s website here: http://www.justgiving.com/elizabethduncanheadshave
Follow me on twitter: @sallybiddall