Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hair Character

My great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Crolly Harm kept a "Mark Twain Scrapbook," an 1892 method of saving newspaper clippings. Recently, I discovered the following article (clipped from a Cleveland, Ohio newspaper?):
    Character is more easily discernible by close observation of hair than by noting the expression of the face.
    It is a wonderful guide to the mental capacity, tastes, and temper of individuals.
    It has been said the finer the hair the gentler the birth, and it is certainly true that those who are born to the purple are often remarkable for the soft, silky texture of the hair.
    Lusterless black hair denotes a jealous disposition and treacherous temperament.
    In nine cases out of ten it is a curious fact, which cannot be refuted, that the lighter the color the the hair the more sensitive is the owner to criticisms and the more quick to feel real or fancied injuries.
    The possessor of brown hair of good depth of color and firm texture is usually distinguished by good judgment, a high sense of reasoning power, and plenty of common sense.
    Women with red hair, though often over-impulsive and too quick-spoken, are generally strictly honest and truthful, show a fair amount of common sense, and, as a rule, are the brightest, sunniest and gentlest individuals in existence.
    A woman with straight and what might be termed "unyielding" hair, especially if the color is dark, possesses a firm and highly principled nature; she is determined, perhaps even a little obstinate, but extremely dependable.
    Okay, I'm sorry, but the above is not an example of hair character, it's an example of hair idiocy. Notice how the article begins with a discussion of hair in general, and halfway down slips into what we're really talking about -- *women's* hair? Lord above! Worst of all, I fear my great-great-grandmother saved this clipping as an authoritative "tidbit of wisdom." Thank goodness we no longer have to suffer that kind of claptrap and folderol in our media. Or do we?


Charlotte Morganti said...

In your research related to this, did you manage to find out what "born to the purple" means? My hair is fine and silky (on a good day) so if born to the purple means something wonderful then I'm prepared to accept the veracity of the old article. But if it means you're doomed, I can quickly change horses.
Part of me believes born to the purple is a reference to royalty - probably because of the "royal purple".

Hairpisodes said...

Hi Charlotte - Yes, you are correct. It started in Rome - only the persons of wealth and status wore the color. The Oxford dictionary says: "(also Tyrian purple)a crimson dye obtained from some molluscs, formerly used for fabric worn by an emperor or senior magistrate in ancient Rome or Byzantium.
(the purple) (in ancient Rome or Byzantium) clothing made from fabric dyed with Tyrian purple.
(the purple) (in ancient Rome) a position of rank, authority, or privilege, as in, "he was too young to assume the purple"