Have you ever wondered why we give so much attention to our hair? Hair care, hairstyles and hair color are all a popular topic especially to women. We spend a considerable amount just to keep our hair healthy and beautiful. But why do we give a care in the first place when in fact, unlike the other tissues of our body, the scalp, hair and body hair are actually not important to our physical health.
When you lose your hair due to the physiological process of balding or androgenetic alopecia, this does not make you ill and when the hair starts turning grey because of the physiological process of aging no metabolic changes is induced by it. So why then do most of us care much when we start losing hair through balding or when the hair starts turning grey because of aging?
The importance that we give to our hair is not in any way related to physical health. Its strong significance is a manifestation of society, culture and religion. Our hair, especially our scalp hair or popularly referred to as one’s “crowning glory” is considered as a vital representation of one’s “self”. It cannot be denied that a huge chunk of the world’s population wants to be seen in a good light and so we work hard to ensure that our hair is up to par with society’s standards of a “good image”.
We have numerous hair care products, treatments and procedures that were designed to enhance one’s presentation of self via the hair. The fact that we are willing to spend for these various hair care products, treatments and procedures just means that we do care a lot about how we present ourselves to the world and how the world sees us. This is the reason why the hair care industry is a thriving one.
Cultural and Religious Symbolism Attached to the Hair
It is evident that in many societies there are cultural and religious symbolism attached to the hair. In some traditional cultures there are certain rules dictated by either society or religion how, when and to whom a woman can display the hair on her scalp. Male monks on the other hand have their scalp hair shaven which is a religious symbol of their choice of living a life of chastity and poverty.
During the 1960s, the Hippie era came about and men in the United States and Europe grew their hair long to proclaim their refusal to be involved in the standards of the society they claim to dislike. They grew their hair long contradicting society’s accepted and expected male hairstyles back then which were always a clean cut. This symbolism was so powerful that even up to this date the 1960’s era is still defined as the era of males with long hair and “protest”.
Movie stars, TV personalities and pop music celebrities perhaps hold the most influence on hairstyles of everyday life. Perhaps one of the most known influences on women’s hairstyle in the modern era is the one that Jennifer Aniston’s character in the 1990’s hit TV series Friends. Jennifer Aniston played the character of Rachel in this TV series and not long after women in the United States and other parts of the world started asking for this particular hairstyle thereby the term “Rachel hair” was coined.
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