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To Rock a Mullet-Hawk is to be Human

July 22, 2009

I am fascinated by anthropology, in both the natural and social science sense. Human hair is a unique topic that falls into both categories: it is an evolutionary physical trait that links individuals to ancestral roots as well as a physical feature that individuals have manipulated as a social tool. It is our relationship to our hair that makes us humans unique as a species: we are not the only species that has hair, but we ARE the only species that has to cut our hair. This tendency most likely evolved because of our need to see clearly, for with hair in our ancestors’ faces (and scunci’s did not exist 500,000 years ago) they would not have been as able to fend off predators or feast on prey and we most certainly would have not been here today.

Basically, it became necessary for our survival to have bangs.

And MY we have taken that one and run with it! We no longer just bang, we mall-bang, we side-bang, we hawk, we loc, we twist, crimp, line, perm, braid, shave, blow, fade, curl, roll, flip, color, multi-color, highlight, low-lite, relax, tease, pik, diffuse, we tail to the tune of ponies, pigs and rats, we, dare I say it, wave nouveau…and I haven’t even gotten to the products yet.

I don’t think its a solid argument that a spiked mohawk-mullet with sweet designs on the sides is necessary for an individual to survive in this day and age, but it certainly does look cool. (How? HOW did this so trendy? Another topic, I guess…)

The way we manipulate our hair has become more of a form of a social expression than an evolutionary advantage. It is perhaps the most accessible part of our physical being that we can change, or not change, to express our individuality, to identify with certain groups, to conform to standards, to represent certain values, or to symbolize ritual.

The point is, we all make decisions about how we wear our hair for a specific reason. It might be that you feel as though you are most self expressed when walking around purple-headed. Or it might be that you choose to do nothing at all; in fact this type non-action says just as much about an individual’s personality and value system as one of those mohawks!

I am currently wearing (and have been wearing) braids. I will admit that it is because I don’t know what else to do with my natural new growth and am not ready to take that next step towards being completely au natural. They also represent another particular set of values: time and patience. They take a lot of time and patience to do and have done. They also represent the time and patience it takes to grow out your hair for a year (especially when you are used to having it cut about once a month) as well as the time and patience I know it will take to care for natural hair.

Did I mention that I’m highly impatient? Color me a work in progress…

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