The politics of hair in Trump's America
When I chose to shave my head back in 2010, the political climate wasn’t particularly rocky, scary, or stressful. After Obama’s first-term win, I happily tuned out, naively assuming everything was great with a capital G. Politics don’t need me, why should I get involved? Flash-forward to November 2016, where many of us felt a new level of disappointment combined with an unfamiliar lack of control. We had exercised our right to vote as we should have, yet found ourselves in a new realm of confusion with a president who did not win the popular vote and has notoriously little resonance with millennials like myself. And, now, Charlottesville.
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This brings me back to hair.
While beauty might feel vain or frivolous in times like these, anyone who works in a salon will tell you that the ability to control how you look and express yourself freely can provide quite a deep level of comfort, no matter what a person is going through. And if you think about the boom of unicorn hair, buzz cuts, jet-black strands, and everything in between, it all kind of lines up, doesn’t it? More than ever, it seems like everyone is really GOING for it. (I, for one, tried rose and platinum-white colored hair.)
Hairstory colorist Julia Elena has seen an uptick in radical hair changes over the past few months. “I’ve noticed women who I’m used to seeing with colorful hair asking for grounded color, and vice-versa. Older women have been either more accepting of their silver hair, or are asking for more colorful stuff. They make comments like, ‘Why not? Might as well, since Trump’s been elected.’”
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From an academic perspective, U.K.-based psychologist Dr. Susan Blackmore—who isn’t afraid of bold hair color herself—says:
The Washington D.C-based duo behind the popular podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You, Bridget Todd and Emilie Aries also tackled the tangled concept of hair and politics back in an episode entitled “Is My Hair A Feminist Statement?”
Sharpton isn’t surprised how people have started to bond over a shared cause, such as rights being in jeopardy. “There’s an energy that comes from a ‘f*ck it’ attitude, and they feel the need to announce it in some way,” he explains. “For a lot of people, the election felt like we are reverting instead of moving forward. It doesn’t mean that everyone out there on the front lines is shaving their heads and dyeing their hair, but it’s about doing what makes sense to them. If being political means that you marched or donated money, that’s great too!”
This article originally appeared in Coveteur by Janell M. Hickman.