The Message of Hair

Recently, I was striding through a mall at a fairly rapid gait when I paused to read a brief paragraph written below the sign for a hair stylist. It was a trendy little shop–actually more of a kiosk. Had I been holding my phone, I would have snapped a photo of the text to be certain to quote it exactly, but I was reduced to reading the copy about three times and then recording it once I got my hands on technology again. In part, the ad read:

My hair is an extension of my style. … My hair is the vibe and music that I create, direct, and enjoy.

What meaning can be exegetically drawn out of these statements? I’m not arguing that the words are true right now, but as Mortimer Adler says, before I can agree or disagree I have to at least be able to say, I understand what is being said. Easy Waves, probably controlled by an expensive marketing firm that has their pulse firmly on the mindset of the populace wanted to send this message: One’s personal appearance including hairstyles is a projection of their worldview.

The second statement assumes that we all relate personal appearance with other aspects of entertainment and pleasure such that even my music runs parallel with the whole gamut of cultural choices I make.

Isn’t this “exegesis” a bit overdone? Yes, but that’s not to say it’s not accurate. Unfortunately though, what is obvious to marketing firms is often a little opaque to Christians, so illustrations from life may be usefully summoned to serve in discussions of culture.

As any beautician or barber knows, hair styles–along with every other cultural form–send messages about our worldview. Let’s stop arguing that the way we express ourselves in personal appearance and artistic style is neutral and shift the discussion to uncovering the meaning that we are sending. After all, if the message is good, then why would we be timid to have it unpacked? Profit-driven companies certainly aren’t.

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