the politics of hair

January 2, 2008 at 10:10 pm (feminism, gender, image) (, )

so, i’m dyeing my hair black and blue. like, right now. and what does this have to do with the price of tea?

when i graduated undergrad, i stopped dyeing my hair. after about a decade of dyeing, bleaching, and whatnot, my hair had gone from the shade of a new penny to black with a white streak (actually, that had a lot to do with james iha in the bullet with butterfly wings video, but whatev). my promise to myself, for whatever reasons at the time, was to shuck pretense and let my hair be itself.

image is a tricky thing. my profession (mental health) dictates a bland wardrobe, conservative hair, inauspicious office furniture. i have spent a lot of time cultivating a benign, yet hopefully stylish appearance; i even have twinsets in my wardrobe, for fuckssake. in the past i have used my clothes and hair to advance my position; and hence, i rationalized, advance the position of the clients i advocate for. but at what point did my nonconformity in haircolor become irrelevant in the face of wholesale image sellout? i mean, let’s be real. when you use your boobs and makeup and clothes to get what you want from people, it doesn’t really matter anymore whether you color your hair. i’ve been kidding myself. the body is politic. image is currency in this patriarchal mess of a society we have. not coloring my hair didn’t make me less femme, less of a ‘lipstick,’ didn’t make me more radical. did my grey make me more credible to the judge in my client’s trial? i hope not.

the spirit of feminism is at one of it’s highest peaks when we reclaim for ourselves, that which society has already branded as a tool of subjectivity to male beauty ideals.

the price has gotten too high. tonight, at least, i’m reclaiming my hair.


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