Tag Archives: braids

Hairvolution #109

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This contributor was one of my college roommates, and it was during our junior year at Texas Lutheran University that we both made major hair transitions – I chopped off all my hair, thus abandoning my awkward attempts at Texas-grade femininity; she went natural.  We had endless conversations about the impact of our respective transitions – how people interacted with us differently, how our families responded, and (most importantly) how we felt about ourselves.  For both of us, the experience was difficult but ultimately an incredibly rewarding journey.  I’m so glad to have made it with her by my side!

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Zina Saro-Wiwa, a British-Nigerian filmmaker currently based in Brooklyn, produced a short documentary in 2012 about the growing number of black women in America transitioning to natural hair.  About the movement, she says this:

[B]lack hair and the black body generally have long been a site of political contest in American history and in the American imagination. Against this backdrop, the transition movement has a political dimension — whether transitioners themselves believe it or not. Demonstrating this level of self-acceptance represents a powerful evolution in black political expression. If racial politics has led to an internalization of self-loathing, then true transformation will come internally, too. It will not be a performative act. Saying it loud: “I’m black and I’m proud” is one thing. Believing it quietly is another. So the transition movement is much more profound and much more powerful — and I believe it offers lessons in self-acceptance for people of all hues and all genders.

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Hairvolution #91

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In 1995, Jonathan Rees identified the”gene for red hair” – the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), found on the 16th chromosome.  This participant is definitely a carrier of this rare and recessive trait (less than 4% of the world’s population has naturally occurring red hair), and she wears it so well!

Unfortunately, redheads haven’t always been appreciated for their beauty.  In addition to countless other myths, stereotypes, and superstitions associated with red hair (more here!), during the late Middle Ages, efforts to suppress peasant revolts and a growing movement of “people power” motivated the genocide of thousands of suspected witches (i.e. powerful women who were seen as threats to the ruling class and powerful elite).  These women were typically stripped and searched for “marks of the devil,” including any “abnormalities” such as freckles, moles, warts, or birthmarks.  Considering the almost inevitable combination of red hair and freckles, of the estimated 40-60,ooo women who were put to death during these witch hunts, it’s safe to assume that many of them were also carriers of the MC1R.

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*To learn more about the relationship between the witch hunts, the historic suppression of women, and the rise of capitalism, check out Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation.

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Hairvolution #86

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This submission arrived in my mailbox – an unexpected (and delightful!) surprise from an old friend in Seattle.  If ever anybody else were to want to contribute their own hairvolution, send me an email (lcparke(at)gmail.com) and I’ll pass on my address!

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Hairvolution #70

Bowl cuts, mullets, and mustaches… oh my!

There’s much to chew on here, but I think I’ll take the opportunity to introduce Rebecca Drolen‘s recent exhibition, Hair Pieces.  Here’s what she has to say about her own exploration of hair and identity:

I am interested in the line between the beautiful and the grotesque in our connection with hair.  I am intrigued by the rules that guide our ideas and self-image in relation to our tresses.  In the work, I use photography and the self-portrait as a medium to construct narratives that function both as visual puns and, at times, as social critique.  I hope to use the beautiful alongside the repulsive in these images to tell stories of growth and removal as they examine a surreal relationship between hair and its place.

Be sure to visit her website to learn more and see the entire collection!

Rebecca Drolen, Longer Lashes, 2011, archival pigment print, 30 x 30 inches.

*As a side note, wouldn’t “Bowl Cuts and Velcro Shoes” make a great band name?

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Hairvolution #68

Hannah was one of several participants to jump on the Hairvolution band wagon during a recent trip to Holden Village, a quirky little Lutheran community in the North Cascades of Eastern Washington.  Holden’s power supply is fairly limited due to its remote setting (and earth-consciousness), so hair dryers are definitely on the do-not-pack list.  Fortunately, that’s not a problem for folks like Hannah!

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Hairvolution #63

Asymmetrical haircuts seem to go hand-in-hand with queer identities.  The author of Effing Dykes has a detailed theory about this phenomenon:

Human brains naturally want things to look symmetrical.

Very few things in nature are not symmetrical – think trees, plants, snowflakes, animal markings, human limbs.

Nature wants to be in balance.

That’s why asymmetry is seen as deviant.

Asymmetry stands out.

And who is deviant?  Who stands out?

How ’bout…queers?

To follow her entire train of logic, please check out “One of These Things Is Not Like the Others.”

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Hairvolution #59

People have been endeavoring to make straight hair curly since the mid-1800s.  Marcel Grateau invented a thermal-based strategy for perming hair in 1872, Charles Nessler introduced chemicals to the process at the turn of the century (one of the ingredients being cow urine), Eugene Suter was responsible for bringing electricity into the picture in 1917, Arnold Willatt invented the cold wave in 1938, acid perms became popular in the 1970s, and the quest continues on today, with the most recent development being the “digital perm,” a Japanese invention that hit the market in 2007.

Above: A machine invented by Isidoro Calvete in 1923.

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Hairvolution #49

Hairvolutions #49-53 were all completed by members of the Occupy Wall Street Safer Spaces Committee, a beautiful group of folks dedicated to making OWS “an anti-oppressive place for everyone including, but not limited to: women, people of color, elders, youth, and people who are queer, trans*, gender non-conforming, differently-abled, undocumented, immigrants, houseless, and/or those with less structural power and privilege.”

Thanks to you all for doing this important work!

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Hairvolution #32

Dr. Rose Weitz, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Arizona State University and author of Rapunzel’s Daughters: What Women’s Hair Tells Us About Women’s Lives, writes, “Changing our hair changes our identity because our hair (and our appearance more generally) is central to how we see ourselves. … Even when we can’t change our identity in a meaningful way, changing our hair can bring pleasure by letting us feel we control at least part of our life.”

Like this person, many participants indicated that hair cuts can often feel cathartic.  The participant responsible for Hairvolution #2 found this to be true, but eventually grew concerned by her “trimming neurosis” and decided to go on a hair-cutting strike for one year.  On the other hand, others experience hair cuts to be challenging or even traumatic events (see Hairvolution #23).

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Hairvolution #31

In her essay, A Hair Piece, Katerina Llanes writes, “More than any other stylistic signifier, hair has become our window into lesbian visibility. The shorter the hair, the more visibly identifiable one becomes as a lesbian. While these assumptions can prove useful within queer communities as shorthand for lesbian cruising, we should be careful not to ground them in the world at large as they are often ill-founded and politically misaligned—re-asserting a gendered binary based on heteronormative codes, butch for masculine / femme for feminine. These gendered polarities often mimic heterosexual partnerships dismissing the existence of any gender in-between. Worse yet is the way in which the “femme” is rendered invisible by her lack of stylistic transition—context being her only mark as a lesbian—while the butch is propped up as the face of lesbianism worldwide.”

This participant notes that having short hair made them more gender conscious.  Consider what the note about “gender management” might be referring to in Hairvolution #24.

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