Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Blue hair is in the eye of the beholder

At a recent visit to the eye doctor, he started explaining to me about the research studies on blue light from LED bulbs and computer screens, how long-term exposure interrupts our circadian rhythms.

"Remember those old ladies who used to have blue-rinsed hair?"

"Um, yeah," I said. Where was he going with this?

"Actually, as the eye ages, people become less sensitive to the color blue. So they thought they were correcting the ugly yellow color of their hair. To them, their hair looked pure white. They didn't see the blue."

Could this be right? Well, yes and no. Maybe some women's eyes/cataracts fooled them into thinking their hair looked white, but others were making a definite beauty statement, following the lead of movie star Jean Harlow. In the 21st century, we can't help but follow the lead of that stunning cartoon star, Marge Simpson.

Browsing about blue hair opened a wider vista than I thought possible. Wikipedia has a page devoted to it here.

Did you know, for instance, that artistic depictions of the Buddha often show him with blue hair? "This artistic convention emphasizes the blue element in the 'blue-black' hair said to be one of the 32 special physical characteristics of the Buddha." Oh my.

There's also a social stigma against it, leading to at least one lawsuit defended by the ACLU. (Also described in more detail on Wikipedia's "Blue Hair" page.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hair bandwagons

During recent travels in Scotland, it was early September, school just back in session. I was out for a walk one day at a park near a school, and noticed a group of lads all wearing a similar haircut. The sides were buzz cut, but on top it was left long. Here's a picture of a Scot on a train -- to give you an idea.

At first, I thought maybe it was a small enough town that the kids all went to the same barbershop. Then I began to notice it on older guys, too.

I was musing about this trend, how something like a hairstyle can catches, and everyone goes along with it. How I hadn't noticed it back in Seattle, and maybe it would begin to be popular there before too long? Even before getting on the plane to Seattle, I was eyeballing hairstyles, and noting that people headed in my direction were mostly wearing the same shaggier style with which I was familiar.

Back home this week, my son asked me to cut his hair.

"Do you want that kind of cut where it's really short on the sides and long on top?" I joked as we were setting up.

"You mean the Macklemore cut?" he said.

"Macklemore cut?!" I couldn't believe it actually had a name.

"Yeah, that rapper from Seattle, Macklemore. He wore his hair like that and it became a fad."

Talk about your ironies. It was from Seattle in a way, all along.

"Most people don't know this," my son went on, "but it's actually similar in style to what the 'Hitler Youth' used to wear."

He added that Macklemore had abandoned the style over a year ago.

While I doubt most guys with that haircut are consciously making a "racist" statement with it, this phenomena of going with the flow is symptomatic of our times, the tendency too hop on bandwagons without thinking through the implications.