Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cowlicks and whorls

Cowlicks and whorls. Reminds me of the Lewis Carroll Jabberwocky poem:
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves.
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
Cowlicks, aka hair whorls are about as whimsical as Carroll's gyre and gimbel. A cowlick is actually a spiral, or whorl, of hair. We all have one. Blue-hair girl above is sporting her whorl/cowlick quite obviously, where it originates at the top center of her scalp. We have these whorls from the day we're born.

Since hair whorls are both clockwise and counterclockwise (more rare), research has been done to to see "if there is a genetic link between handedness and hair-whorls." People have actually studied this stuff. Amar J.S. Klar's research showed "8.4% of right-handed people and 45% of left-handed people have counterclockwise hair-whorls," indicating that "a single gene may control both handedness and hair-whorl direction." (from Wikipedia)

Thing is, other animals have hair whorls too, notably horses and cows. According to the "Word Detective,"
The first appearance of “cowlick” in print found so far was way back in 1598 (“The lockes or plaine feakes of haire called cow-lickes, are made turning vpwards”). (A “feak” is a dangling lock of hair). The cowlick is so-called because the disruptive lock is said to look as if it had been produced by a lick from a passing cow. It’s also commonly called a “calf-lick,” but in that case it may be a reference to the effects on a calf’s coat of grooming by Momma Cow.
That said, other languages do not appear to mention cows in relation to hair whorls, so the term is pretty much confined to English. (Again, the Word Detective.)

Anyhow, some of us have two (or more) cowlicks, which is where things get tricky. My second cowlick is dead center in front on my hairline.

It can look okay.

Or it can look silly.

Or downright weird, depending.

Hair stylists are always trying methods of making it disappear, but it never works. As far as I'm concerned, it's hair personality shinin' through.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hair International

Heads up (pun intended). I just learned there is an International Hair and Beauty Show, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2017.

It's happening in Secaucus, New Jersey, May 20-21. More details here.

Speaking of international hair, the latest book on the subject, Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair sounds amazing. The author, Emma Tarlo, is an anthropologist who takes hair seriously, globe-trotting through North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia to research the history of human hair as a business.

I haven't read it myself, but according to a write-up in the New York Times Book Review, "Tarlo brings a lovely open-mindedness and a deadpan sense of humor to her writing. We meet people who import hair and people who export hair; people who collect hair from the side of the road; people who chop off their hair and post videos of it on hair-selling websites; religious leaders who issue edicts about appropriate wig hair; curators of human-hair collections in museums; workers in Chinese hairpiece factories; hair enthusiasts from the 19th century; and people who, missing all or some of their hair, yearn for that elusive thing, the perfect replacement." (Sarah Lyall, "Tress Relief," 12/4/2016).

Yup, the author braids a tail that's 416 pages long. (If you start with a bad pun, you gotta end with an even worse one.) Emma Tarlo, thank you. I'm delighted and impressed.