During the past two months, hair salons and barber shops have been closed. Only recently have they reopened, with restrictions.
The subject today is hair length. When the flag was waved allowing the reopening of the hair cutting establishments, people could not wait to get in line. My stylist actually called me the week before and offered me an appointment on the first day, which I took, then I later cancelled. Uneasiness. There were riots because people couldn’t get their hair done, or at least that was their public reason. Not me, I had no problem waiting. It made sense. Hair is a personal thing, I saw grown-up, responsible professionals loose their minds because hair touched their ears. The horror. First world problems. Give me liberty, and a trip to the salon.
Two months ago when everything was shutdown, my haircut appointment in the next few days was canceled. So, it was about to be three months between appointments. As a man over age 60, I still have a full head of hair, though it is not as thick as it used to be. In college, my hair was touching my shoulders and bushy. Big hair. It was the 1970s, everyone wore it that way.
In my work career I styled it shorter, grew is a bit longer when I could, but I missed the really long hair days. I’m a rebel at heart, trapped in a conservative career, but I push the envelope. It’s what I do.
The past few years as my job is really in the background, I’ve felt a bit freer to wear it over my collar, more like a college professor still living in the past.
My hair is always clean, probably too clean as I wash the natural oil from it, but I have always washed it daily and I like the clean and light feel. I’ve never worn it pasted down by gel or spray. My hair has always been thick with waves, even as age has reduced the bushiness.
I admit, after age 60, my concern with dress codes and “unspoken expectations” went out the window. For years, I wore suits and was part of a highly visible team of professionals, so I looked the part. That was then, this now.
So, with the COVID 19 environment, and the restrictions on hair cuts, my hair grew. It didn’t bother me unless it was in my eyes, otherwise, I brushed it aside and went about life. Certainly, friends and co-workers made comments, mostly just kidding me, but somehow surprised. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve always worn my hair longer than the current style. It’s me.
Thankfully, the folks I work for are accepting, or just didn’t say anything to me. My job is behind the scenes and for the past few months, our workplace as been empty of people around. Who is to offend?
Aging hippies, musicians or brand new hippies, and a few ultra-stylish young men are about the only ones with longer hair these days. The buzz cut seems the fashion. Many men at my age have sparser hair, which explains why shorter hair is popular. I was blessed with good genes that allowed me to have graying, but healthy hair.
For me, longer hair was always easier to style. My hair has curls at certain length and shorter is actually harder to control. I use a blow dryer so the hair mostly behaves.
At a certain age, men must justify the wearing of hair over a specific length. If I had arms full of tattoos, that would be acceptable, or if I wore an earring. If I wore hats, that would be acceptable. Hell, if I wore a cape and twirled a walking stick, those would be acceptable. There is nothing wrong with any of those, although the cape is a bit presumptuous, but society selectively sets conditions on appearance.
The way I see it, if I was in a job that catered to clients needing a certain professional image, fine. There are legitimate reasons to adapt for a profession that embodies a prescribed image. If I was hobnobbing with the elite of the business community where image has a currency, no problem. I used to be part of that, so I not only understand, I did it for many years. I get all of the professional reasons, if they applied.
It seems when you reach some age it is expected that appearance conform to what some people think. Go to a rock concert for a band or musician from the classic rock period. You’ll see lawyers, doctors, accountants, money managers, etc. who are letting their freak flag fly. These conservative professionals by day are hippy wannabes when they hear anything from the era of “Born to Be Wild” or “Smoke On the Water.”
We are all conformers to a certain degree. Society conforms us, family conforms us, friends, schools, clubs, religion, jobs, everything has the potential to shape our views and attitudes, and makes us part of something, and introduces us to cultural norms.
Conversely, doesn’t our democratic society allow us to think for ourselves, educate us to open our minds, introduce us to art forms for more opportunities for expression, and isn’t maturity providing us with wisdom to consider all of the information and make informed decisions and life choices?
We synthesize all of the data and experiences around us, apply a healthy portion of social norms and feed it into our internal computers. This reminds me of the old IBM punch cards that contained data punched onto each card. Those punch holes were important, like impressions on our lives. Hundreds or thousands of cards were fed into a big mainframe computer. Even the program was activated by some of those cards. We are not programmed by cards or codes, although our values and beliefs systems are like computer programs. At the end of the computer run is this big stack of printed sheets. Those are our actions. Thankfully, all of that happens in your head, you don’t have to carry large boxes of punch cards to the computer center, neurons do the work for you.
Last week, I texted my stylist and inquired about an appointment, I was ready for a trim. I was surprised she could fit me in that day, so I went. Interesting, some of the stylists and patrons were not wearing face coverings and were certainly with six feet of each other. Disappointing, but that is a story for another rant.
The simple answer for why I wear my hair longer is to provide warmth for the neurons in my head. They like it. So do I. Or, maybe I never grew up. There’s that possibility.