Hair won’t define you, but enhance you

Ashley Garner/Staff Writer 

JacqulineRuckerSophmoreEducation

Jacquline Rucker, sophomore studying education, shows off her long, thick braid under a stylish hat.
Ashley Garner/FIUSM

When I was 8 years old I asked my local hairdresser who at the moment was fluffing my curls to cut my hair up to my shoulders (it was currently at my hips). She seemed nervous about my request and before anyone could blink twice my dad ran up and denied my desire for short hair, reassuring me that I would regret it once it was done, and so life moved on.

AlexiaStarkJuniorPhysics

Alexia Stark, junior in physics, expresses herself with teal hair dye.
Ashley Garner/FIUSM

That is until I was 14 and that desire for short hair was all that I could think of. Especially after laying eyes upon Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City’s short curly bob that struck my spontaneous and rebellious adolescent fire in such a way that despite everyone’s warnings I got all my hair chopped off from a mid-back length to chin length, or lack thereof. My mother supported me, my hairdresser was ecstatic and my dad raged that no boy would ever want to date a girl with short hair. Much to his demise I got my first boyfriend two weeks later.

Since then I have done many things to my hair such as dying it blue to pumpkin orange, had it teased, relaxed and even glued in extensions. I have lived by the philosophy of India Arie’s song “I Am Not My Hair” but as much as I believe that many people only know me as “that red head,” reinforcing the idea that we are, in fact, our hair.

MyaSaezFloresFreshmanAsianStudies

Mya Saez Flores, freshman in Asian Studies, sports a colorful ponytail that contrasts with her dark lipstick.
Ashley Garner/FIUSM

I have some friends that are so attached to their hair that they are completely unwilling to even get half an inch trimmed off, as though they would lose a part of their soul in the act. Then I have others that can’t stand for their hair to stay the same for longer than a few months, turning their hair into a symbol of their constantly fluxing personality.

Hair plays a very different role in our lives than it did thousands of years ago when its sole purpose was warmth and protection. In the 21st century, hair has become an accessory–like a purse or a piece of jewelry–but it is easily the most personal accessory of them all. It is our crown and while some people’s crowns are grounded, classic and never changing, others are in an endless state of evolution and re-imagination. They cut it, braid it, twist it and turn it. Dye it pinks and blues one week and then greens and purples the next.

ClaudiaVegaSeniorPsycandSociology

Claudia Vega, senior studying psychology and sociology, uses her hair color to express her fashion sense.
Ashley Garner/FIUSM

Some may argue this statement I’ve made and say hair is just hair and physically, yes, hair is just hair. But it’s the significance of a psychological sign system we give it today that makes hair more than just hair. It has become a symbol for you and your lifestyle and that is how we read it whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Shaved head, dreads, bed head, un-natural colors and afros or pin straight they all have connotations of certain lifestyles that we read into them. As much as I still believe I am not my hair, I do realize that my hair is a symbolic representation of me whether I want it be or not.

ashley.garner@fiusm.com 

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