One thing in particular I've come across on what I think is the Style Network is a makeover show (come to think of it there seem to be about 20 different makeover shows but I haven't learned to tell them apart). From what I can gather in my brief viewings, the premise of these shows is that a woman of intelligence and personality and a comfortable personal style is ambushed by her "friends" who want to dress her like a barbie doll and spray lots of stuff in her hair. Sometimes they want to make her walk funny in uncomfortable shoes. I'm not really trying for a comedy riff here; that's a pretty direct description of what I've seen. Obviously I'm missing something since I never quite catch the first few minutes of the shows where they explain the rules. Or maybe I'm missing something else in my ability to understand the style premise in the first place.
I have caught something very similar, twice, where they take a woman with absolutely stunning breathtaking thick healthy waist-length hair, of the sort that would make people stare in wonder, and chop it off into many layers (the longest to the shoulder) and fluff it up and spray it, not only making the woman look ridiculous but requiring her to spend at least twenty minutes per day recreating the style.
The first time I saw this the victim was a pleasant beautiful woman of a sort of hippie style and persona. Her red-blonde hair fell in beautiful Pre-Raphaelite red-gold waves, so full and thick and shiny (and well trimmed) it was surreal. She loved her hair, that was clear, and I'm willing to bet that nearly everybody who isn't cowed by the beauty industry's cultural premises would worship at the altar of this woman's fabulous mane. But the style consultants basically ridiculed her, yammering on about how she needed to have lightness and style, acting like pre-teen mean girls. The gay male stylists on these shows seem to be the worst in this regard. The haircut they gave her was just weird -- it was almost mulletlike, and required teasing and spraying and did not suit her in the slightest, even with the closecut ugly clothing they stuffed her into. It made me very sad to watch this.
What is that about, anyway? It reminds me of all the hair stylists I've met socially over the years at gay events who aggressively grab my braid and start stroking it, cooing about how wonderful and thick and healthy it is and then telling me, unbidden, that I should cut it off. But we'll return to that in a minute.
Last night the woman being made over was a college student of sharp and sociable personality. She was absolutely beautiful, in a way that needed no style makeover of any sort. She wore glasses that made her look like the intellectual she was. But the most amazing thing of all was this woman's hair: stunningly incredibly enormously thick and curly/frizzy and nearly black, it spread out around her like an aura. Even in its curly state it fell to her waist. Combed out wet and straight it was at least a yard long.
So what did the stylists do? They talked about how people needed to look at her and not her hair. (Huh? They themselves later dressed her and made her up to attract attention of a different sort, and it wasn't about seeing "her".) Her clothing update wasn't too bad, but this woman looked compelling in anything, including her loose cotton pre-update wardrobe, such was her smile and liveliness and gorgeous even features. But, of course, they chopped off her hair (which actually made her cry). They didn't just tame it down and shorten it, they cut it into a strange chin-length style that fell into her face from both sides and required straightening and then blow-drying into a pouffiness. AND they gave her a year's supply of contact lenses. Because individual personality is appparently a fashion no-no.
All her friends applauded the transformation. What a strange definition of friendship. There was a Twilight Zone episode about this very thing, on the planet where all teenagers get the surgery to look like one of a few pre-defined beauty archetypes (including the "Richard Long", who later played the Professor on Nanny and the Professor). The plot twist was that the beauty surgery also lobotomized the brain and removed the ability to think independently. We never needed this television show so much as now, I think.
It's interesting that this should come up just this week because recently, at bear bar night, somebody I know casually through those circles decided that he needed to tell me that he's been seeing me around for years and he just has to tell me that I really need to cut off my hair. It's so 80s, he said. (Gee, in the 80s they told me it was so 60s. I wish these people would make up their minds.) I asked him why he cared, but he didn't seem to hear. He was quite pleasant about this (if that can be imagined), and he talked of how many more guys would be interested in me if I cut this braid off. I told him I didn't really need more guys being interested in me, which was a bad way of making my point -- which is that I'm aware of the iconic nature of sexual attraction, and I've chosen my path elsewhere entirely cognizant of the consequences. I also tried to explain to him that there was never a time, not the eighties not the sixties not the seventies, when men in general wore their hair as I wear mine. Not that many men even can. But that was so outside of his point that it whizzed by.
I think about cutting my hair a lot these days, actually. It's fun and I love it, but other things are changing now and perhaps it would be ritually significant to do this when I reach half-a-century. Who knows? It's thinner than it used to be, which is key here, but there's still plenty and it's not yet grey. I'm in no hurry, and I think if getting more guys to come after me were my goal then regular time in the gym would probably be a more productive approach.
But what is it with the general desire to find people with unusually long hair and tell them to cut it off? Both on the Style Network and in my own personal life? Do I tell people how really stupid they all look wearing shorts that come below the knees?