06 February, 2008

Get A Haircut, You Dirty Hippie

Firstly, anyone who says that has no idea of the lengths to which I go in order to be and stay clean. But the issue I'd like to address here is my unconventionally long hair. Particularly for a guy. You rarely see a girl with hair as long as mine, and I don't think I've ever seen a guy with hair this long. So the obvious question is, why do I have such long hair?

The main reason is actually rather mundane. I've always been averse to getting a haircut. The whole situation is uncomfortable to me, having someone's attention focused exclusively on me for a period of time, that sort of thing. As a child, I would get a haircut fairly regularly simply because that's normal, and that's what my parents decided, and I had little to say over it. But I gradually managed to extend the time between haircuts, so that there would be long periods where I wouldn't get one, and my hair would grow out relatively long (in this case, meaning long enough to cover my face in the front) - this would be around high school days, I guess. Having hair that long was kind of cool, because I loved being able to hide my face behind my hair to avoid people, but it was also kind of liberating to get it cut short after a while. Ultimately, though, the act of getting a haircut just became too much of a bother to me, and somewhere around the time I got my senior picture, I gave up on it completely, and just let my hair grow out unhindered. I haven't taken or allowed a blade to be taken to it since.

So the primary reason for me is convenience. You might say that getting a haircut once a month is a lot easier than washing long hair everyday. Maybe you have a point, but for me, going out and getting a haircut is a lot harder than washing my hair everyday. I'm used to washing my hair and it really doesn't bother me. Going out and getting a haircut, on the other hand, would be traumatizing. That having been said, convenience is not the only reason I continue to have long hair to this day. Though it may have started that way, since growing my hair out, I've become very attached to it, and now there are other reasons for me to keep it.

Having long hair has a certain appeal. I like to challenge people's ideas about things, force them to think in new ways. By being a guy and having long hair, I force people to question their notions of what people can be like. I guess maybe, people who get piercings and visible tattoos, and wear weird fashions and such, might be doing it partly for that same reason. But it's also more than that. I actually like the long hair, for what it is. Part of that is because it connects me to two symbols that I hold respect for - hippies, and elves. Although a lot of the hippies I see in documentaries and rock festivals don't have hair quite as long as mine (especially the guys) - and aren't nearly as naked as I'd thought they would be - the long hair still taps into that whole social movement where the hippies wanted to challenge society's standards about how guys should wear their hair (among other things), and the image of freedom represented by letting your freak flag fly.

In addition to the hippies specifically, guys with longer hair than normal have always been a staple of certain sections of the music scene. The guy with long hair is a rocker. When Bob Seger sings, "most times you can't hear 'em talk, other times you can; the same old cliche, is that a woman or a man?", I know what that's like firsthand. And although I try to take it as a compliment, considering how I feel about girls, it's still pretty embarrassing to be mistaken for one. Even before I went super-long, when I was back in elementary school, I was at the pool with a friend once, and I remember hearing a kid scream out "mommy, that girl doesn't have a top on!" (Obviously, this would be way back at the age before girls started 'developing' significantly...). I'm happy that I can laugh about it now, but it was pretty uncomfortable at the time. But even so, my hair means too much to me to lose it for the sake of other people's expectations.

I mentioned elves above. Whereas hippies don't necessarily have hair as long as mine, especially on the guys, elves frequently have hair this long, and the guys just as often as the girls. I'm fascinated by elves. I feel a certain kinship with them. They are a natural race, living in closer communion with nature, and they are often described as being beautiful, wise, and knowing how to extract simple but profound pleasures from life - for example, in the form of song and dance. Anything that relates me to this race brings me closer to the ideal image of what I would like to be.

There's another reason that I treasure my long hair. A very important reason, that I've avoided thus far. I'll be blunt. There was a girl I [hardly] knew in college, with the longest, most beautiful golden locks, like something out of a fantasy. Her hair was probably a bit longer than mine is now, and a little more wavy, probably because she not infrequently wore it in a braid. She cut it in half or so, later on. There's a lot of troubling emotional nuances to the situation, but having my own hair as it is, partly serves as a connection to what I loved, and partly as a challenge to what I hated. If I cut it now, not only would I lose that connection, but I'd also lose the challenge...

And while we're talking about cutting, I'd like to take a moment to issue my stance on Locks of Love. I have absolutely nothing against it, and I think that what they're doing is great. However, I have been hounded by so many people, telling (not asking) me to donate my hair, that it can't help getting on my nerves. When somebody honestly compliments me on my hair, which happens a lot, I am genuinely pleased. However, when they then proceed to instruct me on getting rid of it for the sake of some charity, my enthusiasm wanes. And that's to say nothing of the people who mention it outright, before ever saying "wow, your hair is long", or "I like your hair", but rather come right up to me and say "you're donating that to Locks of Love, right?", as if it was a statement, and not a question. That really gets on my nerves. Just because it's a good thing, does everybody in the world who grows their hair out *have* to donate? I thought this was a free country, not a fascist dictatorship. Some people just *don't* have their priorities straight, and unfortunately, in my experiences, that reflects badly on Locks of Love. If you want my advice, tell the people not to be so Jehova's Witness about it. I mean, look at my hair, do you really think I've never heard of Locks of Love before? What exactly do you hope to gain by hounding and harvesting me? Certainly not my respect or friendship, I can guarantee you that. And not my patronism, either. So start thinking with your head and your heart, not with your [short] hair.


  1. I see what you mean about Locks of Love... it's like working all of your life and saving up a tidy nest egg, right? Then someone comes along and tells you "Man, you've saved up a lot of money! You're going to donate it to the Salvation Army, right? Right? You really should!"

    What a bummer.

    I never expected that picture; I was checking your blog to see if you responded to my previous comment (not realizing that you did so with a new post) and one of the vice principals was using the computer next to me. Boy, did your picture give me a scare.

    As a side note, has your hair pretty much reached its full growth yet?

    I still think you should have someone look at the ends and see if you need a trim or something; apparently if the ends are damaged, it'll just keep traveling up and damaging the hair, keeping you from being able to grow it out longer.

    Then again, you never said you really want it longer, either.

  2. I'm the kind of person who would refuse to take steroids just to get a step ahead of my competition. Maybe I'm spoiled because I'm just lucky, or maybe it has to do with how I take care of my hair, but my opinion is if you're getting it trimmed, it doesn't really count (I know, I'm hard to please). Besides, going to someone to have them do something to it kind of defeats the whole purpose of my stance in the first place.

  3. I'm long overdue for a haircut and have been toying with the idea of growing out my hair to shoulder length, just because my other half has requested it. However, my hair doesn't get long so much as it gets shaggy, and I just imagine it being a nightmare to maintain.

  4. Your personal hair needs may be different than mine, but I've found that the maintenance is something you get used to - like shaving everyday, or dressing up for work, or cooking dinner, or whatever routines we have. It seems to me that it's just a matter of whether it's something you care enough about to get used to. Of course, with something like this, it can't hurt to give it a try. If it turns out that you really don't like it, there's always the scissors!

  5. Shaving...every day...? HAHAHAHA!