Recently I was out somewhere and an employee came out to me and said: “It looks like you’re having a bad hair day.” I was shocked at her rudeness. And then after a while I realized I didn’t give a shit what she thought.
It is amazing to me how much emphasis there is on hair in this culture. Hair is everything, or so it would seem. We die it, braid it, comb and brush it, curl it, dread it, straighten it, add extensions and color it every color under the rainbow. But what does somebody’s hair say about them? Absolutely nothing.
On the one hand, I understand that for many people hair is a mode of expression. I respect that. On the other hand, I think hair is way overdetermined. We pour so much meaning into it, not to mention time, money and effort. I really wish hair didn’t matter, and I really wish it had no link to gender whatsoever.
Perhaps my saltiness about hair can be linked to gender. In our culture, women are supposed to have long hair and men are supposed to have short hair. I love people who buck this trend. In fact I have the utmost respect for them.
I think the most subversive thing someone can do now is go against the gender terrorism of hair. But in addition to that, I think what is subversive is to not care about your hair. To not wash it. To not brush it. To not comb it. To not put styling products in. To not blow dry it, straighten it, curl it, etc. I am tired of washing my hair every day so I don’t. This inevitably makes it more greasy and messy but I don’t care.
The pressure to “take care” of your hair is part and parcel of patriarchy. It says that your hair is vitally important and says something about your value as a human being. This is similar to dress, make up, jewelry, etc. Why are people evaluated based upon what they look like? Why has hair [the cut, style, color, etc.] become such an important thing in our culture?
I still feel somewhat scared when I go out without washed or combed hair. There is a basic expectation that you will wash, dry and style your hair and if you don’t you are “dirty” or “unkempt.” This expectation is oppressive and it is part of patriarchy, capitalism and white supremacy. I am going to try to keep pushing the envelope as far as not “dealing with” my hair. A number of years back I shaved it all off and I might do that again this summer. It felt very liberating to do that, not to mention cooler.
I don’t believe there are any universal prescriptions for hair. Some people might feel empowerment through hair care and styling. I would never dream of taking that away from them. Certain hair styles can be subversive to be sure. But it can also be subversive to not deal with hair every day in the way we are “supposed” to. Maybe being told you are having a “bad hair day” is one of the best compliments you can recieve.