Hair and History: Why a Woman’s Mane Matters

A woman touching her long dark hairThe hair and beauty industry is worth several million dollars. Over her lifetime, an average woman spends about $50,000 caring for her hair. She will also likely spend two hours a week washing and styling her locks. Furthermore, she will frequent salons for treatments or hair extension, shops such as Anchante Hair, to make sure her crowning glory is always at its best.

This is not solely because of the importance women place on appearances. Hair has always been a way for women to express her identity, femininity, and personal empowerment.

Femininity and Identity

Historical records show that hair has always signified femininity. During the civil war, women were barred from joining battlefield, causing them to cut off their hair to disguise themselves as men and join the war effort. In the Biblical times, moreover, a woman’s hair reflected her religious identity. A verse from the Bible stated that a woman who prayed with her head shaven or uncovered was disrespectful. A woman’s thick, long hair was said to bring her glory, giving birth to the term “crowning glory.”

Liberation and Beauty

Lady Godiva, a 13th-century noblewoman, meanwhile, rode on a horse naked through the streets of Coventry to protest the oppressive taxation that her husband imposed upon his tenants. The image of Lady Godiva, with only her long locks to cover her body has since become the symbol of not just beauty but also civic freedom.

Female Chinese soldiers and communists in the 1950s, meanwhile, wore a short bob just below their ears. This style, dubbed the “Liberation Hairdo,” signified the way women were taking control of their lives.

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The meaning of hair goes beyond something that simply covers the scalp. Indeed, it is something that represents one’s personality, beliefs, and thoughts. The prior examples have shown that woman’s hair and hairstyle allowed her to play different roles and achieve personal empowerment in society through the years.