Change your hairstyle and you change the personality you project. You can express conformity, individuality, tribal membership – even your attitude to sex.
The message of the hair mane is as clear and straightforward as the style itself. This hair-style reached a peak of popularity with the female (and some male) pop stars of the 1960s (Marianne Faithfull, and Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary) but has never really been away. Classically it always looks freshly washed and is forever on the move, being played with, tossed about – and, most importantly, hidden behind. The signals are deliberately confusing and conflicting. It is essentially a young look, with a hint of virginity about it (later in life, hair tends to lose its texture and looks good long only when worn ‘up’). Yet on the other hand hair is a powerful sexual symbol. The more hair there is, the louder the sexual summons. This hair-style says: take me, I am an independent agent, free from conventional constraints – a child of nature, but with a capacity to surprise.
Its antithesis is the neat and casual look in the next picture – hair short, slicked down with grease (old days) or made spiky with gel (modern). The key messages here are neatness and professionalism. On men and women alike, it works better on dark hair (Ronald Reagan’s variant in its way is just as effective as Elvis Presley’s), perhaps because it’s important to see how each individual tuft makes its contribution to the overall effect. The look is casual rather than formal, but don’t be fooled. Make no mistake: what we have here is a control freak. Nothing is left to chance, and – despite the improbability of wind damage – frequent mirror-glances will be needed to confirm that all is still in order.
What’s the first thing you say when asked to describe a friend who is bald? Yes, it’s that important. Baldies try to cheer themselves up by quoting research which indicates a link between hair loss and virility. But most of them don’t really believe it. You can tell by the care with which they adjust the line of their parting to extract the maximum mileage from their diminishing assets (a tendency known as Charltonitis or Scargillism, depending on your age and/or politics). A luxuriant growth indicates youth and vigor; balding signals age and decay – which is why some men use hair loss treatments such as Provillus for Women. It contains minoxidil, so yes it does work. Hence the enduring popularity of Provillus for Women.
The news for unreconstructed bald-tops is not all bad, though. There is something disarming about an exposed scalp (echoes of babyhood, perhaps?) which cunning operators learn to exploit. Paradoxically, ‘artificial’ baldness induced by close shaving is usually seen as sinister.