Hairy Tales and Cousin Itt
by Kristina S.
I AM CHEAP!
What I mean to say is I am low maintenance where some things are concerned. And one of those things is my hair. In the last three years I have only gone to the hairdresser once. I do not use fancy products on my hair. My hair conditioner of choice is SLS free, vegan and only $3.50. from the local supermarket. It comes in a bottle made from corn (how is that even possible?). Oh and I always keep some coconut oil around. It’s hair food.
So, obviously, without my pruning and trimming, my hair has grown long, wild and unkempt. Kind of like the Secret Garden when Mary Lennox discovered it for the first time. My hair gets tangled everywhere: all around my hand bag, all around the stranger next to me’s handbag on the train, house plants, you name it. On some days it chokes and smothers me when I squirm out of my clothes (and then I usually yell ‘HAAAALP!’ and le husband would come running to aid, Hallelujah! I get it why fine ladies in the olden days had maids to help them dress).
If you’ve watched the Addams Family you might remember Cousin Itt. He’s a flamboyant bachelor who’s always impeccably dressed in sunglasses, a derby hat and gloves. And he’s entirely shrouded by long hair – which I think must be the reason why his voice sounds high pitched and gibberish. Anyway, I feel like Cousin Itt sometimes. Although his hair is way more sleek and silky than my own. And I am no flamboyant bachelor with an extravagant lifestyle (which is plain to see from my cheap bottle of hair conditioner).
The last time I went to a hairdresser I paid $85 for a trim and a nice chat (he was a nice man with nice tattoos and we talked a lot about bicycles and inner city living). It was expensive but I thought what the heck, it’s a once a year thing. At least I thought it was going to be a once a year thing, but I made such a big deal out of it that I psyched myself out of my next visit. So here I am, a woman with crazy hair. And so big is the burden of going to a hairdresser, I’ve taken the troubles of trimming my own split ends. By the sunny window, with an itsybitsy pink scissors purchased from Daiso.
The thing with letting my hair grown so long is I have bonded with it over time. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing my follicles a little bit, but my hair is sort of like my friend. It is worthy of moral care and affection. It’s been there with me through this whole time. It knows the heights of my ups and the depths of downs like the back of its metaphorical hands. It’s also the best indicator of weather, providing me with reading of the humidity in the air.
There have been many literature on long tresses. There’s our famous damsel-in-distress Rapunzel. Oh, and strong Samson (can you believe Delilah for her treachery?!). There’s also Lady Godiva who rode into town butt naked, covered only by her long locks. An evolutionary psychology theory explains the allure of long female hair : it reveals a person’s health, genetic strength, status, and of course fertility (everything always seems to come down to procreation). My hair is not at all shiny and lustrous like silk satin. After all living in Melbourne where the weather condition is fickle and extreme, healthy hair is difficult to maintain.
I came across an interesting article written about long hair in Native American culture. Apparently the U.S. Vietnam war special forces (or something of that name) recruited several Native American young men with exceptional tracking abilities. Men with some mad skills. However, once enlisted, these men seemed to lose their abilities. It was a peculiar thing!
So the people in charge looked into the matter, and several studies later, they found that the reason why these men failed to perform was because of the military haircut they were required to take. Without their long hair, they couldn’t sense or read subtle signs from their environment. No hair, no magical powers.
It seems that being an extension of the nervous system, hair (on head and facial) act like feelers that transmit important information to the brain. It’s quite a fantastic story, and there may be some truth in it. Ever since I started growing my hair out I do notice that I’ve become more aware of certain things. There’s wind direction and speed. Strong winds would send my hair flapping and whipping, which always leaves me feeling overwhelmed. There’s also humidity, of course. And I think every girl with naturally frizzy hair would be sensitive to it. Oh, and there’s also smells that seep into the follicles. If by any chance amnesia should happen to me, I only need to smell my hair to find out where I’ve been last night (Pub? Beach? A shopping centre?)
I do enjoy having my long crazy mane. It’s a statement of my can’t care less attitude towards trends and fashion. It’s symbolizes my laid backness. It brings out my inner hippie flower child. And contrary to what people think, it require no fuss (bad hair day? Tie it up in a bun and forget about it). It’s also good for shrouding me from people I wish to avoid. But like some relationships, I know that one day I will say goodbye to my hair and chop it off. But in the meantime, my hair is here to stay. And if Cousin Itt really exists, I’d love to hang out with him and trade hairy tales.
ps: You can read more about the article I mentioned here