Friday, July 6, 2012

Hair Do and Don't

Primping has been around for a long time—at least 22,000 years as the Venus of Willendorf shows us with her curly do. The 4 1/2 inch figurine comes across the spread of time from pre-history to tell us that people were already using the symbolic mind to evoke a vision of perfection. And today, the pile of hair curlers we’ve collected from Kehoe Beach tells us we’re still at it. The image of perfection, the ideal presented at the beauty salon does what it has always done, slicing away at indifference, bringing us to choice. Do I like this or that? Choices defining aspiration: for mating, for companionship, for direction.

Of course, for the woman of the 50’s and early 60’s, the plastic hair curler was a torture device—sleeping on a nest of the tubes made for a restless night. Beauty sleep? There was a great relief when the natural hairstyles of the 70's hippy age saw a respite from hair curling.

Nice’ n Easy

Lustre Santé /Healthy Shine, fabrique aux EU/ made in the US, révitalisant /conditioner. The pearlescent five-ounce bottle looks like it came as part of a kit from Clairol’s nice ‘n easy brand. It’s the hair treatment applied after coloring, the finishing step in the dream of self-improvement. It’s as if we in the industrialized world inhabit the realm of Marquises or Dukes; make-up and hair dyes, once reserved for the very privileged, now line the vast shelves in any drug store, superette or superstore. 

In Classical Antiquity, it was soldiers who dyed their hair—the Romans darkened and the Greeks lightened—signs of strength and courage. In 1956, when Clairol introduced the “Does she or doesn’t she?” ads, the number of American women coloring their hair jumped to over 70%. Was hair coloring the start of something? “Is it true, do blonds have more fun?” and “The closer he gets, the better you look.” —all Clairol ad tag lines—most effective!

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