So Kate just changed her hair color. I just read Cylee’s blog and she changed hers too. Cindy changed her hair three weeks ago. My mom colors her hair so its not an Arctic white (jokes mom). Friends of mine all around me have dyed their hair (mostly female with the exception of Darren). I even colored a GF’s roots at one time in my life (it was a good job too. She said it was professional). What’s the deal with coloring your hair?
Here’s the thing. I just realized that coloring your hair is very post-modern. Why? It’s not pink usually, and pink is the obvious postmodern color right? That is true, but the trend to make one’s hair a color that it is not, or even to highlight (or as I’ve been told, lo-lite) a hair color is in a way artificial. It’s not real. It is synthetic. Post-modernists are concerned with subjectivity. Before I get into that, a brief history of hair through the four periods of thought.
Enlightenment: Okay, an age defined by reason. Here women would pull their hair back and expose their forehead. A large forehead was a sign of intelligence and so it was the practice of men and women. It was also extremely formal and proper to have your hair back and not in your face. I got Jane Austen to help me out with some examples.
Romanticism: Here we see a contrast to the Enlightenment. Romantics were less formal and more concerned with emotion and passion. The hair begins to be let down and cover parts of the face. This is more primal and sexual, as can be displayed by any Revlon commercial with a woman throwing her hair back. Or here, with the stunning Kate Beckinsale.
Modernism: Louise Brooks was a huge figure in spurning the bob cut and short hair of women during the Modernist period. Some discuss how the equal rights movement caused women to cut their hair more like men, but it was always a fashion trend. In this case, the hair is simplistic and plain, even homely.
Back to Postmodernism: Besides being described as synthetic and somewhat a fabrication of reality, the Postmodern era has also been characterized by the phrase “death of the author” by Roland Barthes, where he discusses how an author’s original intent becomes meaningless in literature or art. Thus, the critic or reader of a work determines all meaning. In other words, there is subjectivity. This seems to seep into culture as well, since now Nature doesn’t define what a hair color is: the individual does synthetically with chemicals.
Postmodernism is also a throwback to many Romantic elements, so we see many women who wear their hair long and down, with added fashionable alterations.
We see a constructed over-the-top trend in architecture of Post-modernism, as opposed to the plain and simple functionality of the modernist period. We also see a plethora of neon colors and artificial colors in hair dos, as opposed to the simplicity of the short cut and single color of the Modernist age.
Post-modernism is also a time of mass produced consumer goods. Capitalism itself is not Post-modern, but the mass production of products for profits, especially that of goods that are not necessities is post-modern. Check your local grocery store to see how many hair coloring products there actually are, let alone hair products.
Ladies, don’t get mad that you’re a product of pop culture. The majority of women in America are today. Alright alright so are men. Maybe I’m poking fun, but we are all consumers. We consume. The Bourne Trilogy? Pop culture movies. Hurley and Element? Pop culture brands. Superman and X-men comics? Pop culture reading. Britney Spears and Michael Jackson? Pop culture music. It doesn’t make it bad. Or does it? Does pop culture which is sometimes strictly for entertainment purposes, cause us to miss out on works of art that have meaning and power behind them beyond mere teasing of the senses? Hollywood has equations that are easy to follow to produce responses in us, and we are prone to react on cue. Maybe there are books and movies that require more effort on our part, and yet will produce lasting effects on us that originate within us because we are forced to think for ourselves. I had a professor tell me he thought I was an avid consumer of pop culture and its true. I do like Maroon5 and the X-men and Jason Bourne and 24 and the iphone. But it is what it is. Easy to like, and easy to consume. What do you think? Post a comment and let’s discuss this further.
ladies, don’t construe this as a veiled criticism at hair color. That’s really not what I was getting at with my tangent!
So to all of you who color your hair, I say this to you. You’re so Post-modern!
As an added thought, before finals I was thinking about how jelly-beans are postmodern. They’re artificial, synthetic, colorful, and totally not what they claim to be. A cotton candy jelly belly is not cotton candy. It is sugar with artificial flavoring, that tricks you into thinking its cotton candy. It has no nutritional value (some would say much of pop culture is the same), and yet we love it. What do you say about that?