Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The débutantes are invading your brain

In our cultural vocabulary, long hair signifies youth, femininity and sex appeal. By contrast, shorter hair is serious, sophisticated, strong. Apparently. 


Some facts:
1. Hair is sexy.
1.b. But only on your head.
2. Modest women, like nuns, cover their hair to (a) signify that they are totally off-the-market, and (b) prevent  causing a lust-explosion by waving those obscene locks around willy-nilly.
3. Women should be sexy, and thus have long hair, except when they are old, when their being sexy is gross, so they should chop off their hair right now, because euwww mutton dressed as lamb. (And what's sexier than a lamb? Frisky little fluffy gambollers.)

A further fact: I didn't realise any of this.

My point isn't "Ooh, let's discuss my personal feelings about the politics of hair" or, christ, "let's have a really fruitful discussion about whether wearing hijab is like kicking feminism in the face" (short version: IT'S NONE OF MY FRICKING BUSINESS, where 'me' is 'every pontificating not-Muslim atheist or feminist ever'), but rather: Society, that beast, drums a lot of peculiar messages into us, and whispers a lot more, so frequently and so insidiously that most of them just seem like truth. You notice how bizarre cultural norms are when you look at them from the outside, but that so easily descends into plain old racism, in a "look what the funny [insert Enid Blytonesque epithet here] get up to, and gosh, well I suppose they look nice to each other..." sort of way. The fact that other people's cultural practices look ridiculous doesn't necessarily make you take a fresh look at your own, and realise that they're equally laughable.

But - lucky for me! - sometimes the slavering Society Beast slips up, and forgets a bit of its Indoctrination Program.

Minions of the slavering Society Beast.

So, while I intellectually know that, say, leg hair is natural and actually quite helpful and that being revolted by it is a culturally ingrained response - I still think it looks unpleasant. The Beast's work here is done, and I have been sufficiently socially conditioned.

But head hair = sex kitten? That one just passed me by, somehow, so it sounds very much like what it is: utterly preposterous. It's hair, you guys; sure it can look cool, but it can also clog up your drain; it's sexy when it's attached but gross when it's moulting all over your sofa? It's a sign of frisky vixenity on your head, and of grotesque anti-sex man-hatery in your delicate armpits? BUT THAT'S STUPID.

Yeah, that's right, I said it. Socially conditioned beauty standards: STUPID. I have an A-level in Sociology, by the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment