The bible tells us that if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering 1 Cor 11:15.
Hair is one of the most important ways humans have of both presenting themselves and judging one another socially, being one of the parts of their body which is easiest to manipulate. Throughout many cultures or viewpoints, but not in all, hair is seen as representing control over oneself,sexually, morally, or otherwise: those having long hair having less control than those having shorter or no hair. Also, having short, cut hair (or a shaven head) is often viewed as being under society’s control, such as while in prison or as punishment for a crime, while having long hair signifies being outside of the systems of society.[
Before World War I men generally had longer hair and beards. However, short hair on men has often been enforced as a means of control, in police, military and other forces that require obedience and discipline. Slaves and defeated armies were often required to shave their heads. The trench warfare of 1914 to 1918 exposed men to flee and lice infestations, which prompted the order to cut hair short, establishing a norm that has persisted.
Beat poets during the 1950s wore longer hairstyles, as did many of the urban gay culture, although long hair was far from popular. However, the 1960s introduced The Beatles, who started a widespread longer hair fad. The social revolution of the 1960s led to a renaissance of unchecked hair growth and long hair, especially on men, worn as a political or countercultural symbol or protest. This cultural symbol extended to several Western countries in the Americas, Western Europe, South Africa, and Australia. Specific long hairstyles such as dreadlocks have been part of counterculture movements seeking to define other alternative cultures and lifestyles since this time. Longer hair in general remained popular among the youth rebellion throughout the liberal decade of the 1960s. Clergymen and conservative parents saw the long hair fad as a threat to gender identity, cultural, and religious norms as it grew with the spread of the hippie movement in the 1960s.
In the 1970s, the popularity of Jamaica‘s reggae music and musician Bob Marley prompted interest in dreadlocks internationally. The anti-establishment philosophy of Rastafari, echoed in much of the reggae of the time, resonated with left-leaning youth of all ethnicities — especially and primarily among African Americans and other Blacks, but among counter-culture whites as well.
In the 1980s the view of long hair as a solitary signifier of political or counter-cultural identity was countered and parodied in films such as Rambo and many other militaristic heroes of media which challenged then-contemporary views of what was masculine. Today, longer hairstyles remain popular among heavy metal enthusiasts. Long hair may be grown for the purpose of being donated to an organization, such as Locks of Love, for hairpieces to help those who could not have hair otherwise, such as those who are diagnosed with alopecia areata.
Women often have a stronger inclination towards long hair than men do. Younger women tend to have longer hair than older women. Hair length and quality can act as a cue to a woman’s youth and health and, as such, signify reproductive potential. Growing and wearing long hair was almost universal among women in the western world until World War I. Some feminists have declared long hair as “irrefutably feminine,” while others argue for shorter hair. Some religious scholars even believe that without hair or long hair, a woman is not complete. In some cultures, long, well-kept hair symbolizes wealth and luxury, as such hair is difficult to maintain in poverty.
Historically, East Asian cultures viewed long hair as a sign of youth and aesthetic beauty. Long hair is associated with private life and sexuality. East Asian cultures see long, unkept hair in a woman as a sign of sexual intent or a recent sexual encounter, as usually their hair is tied up. Lay Buddhists have long hair, while Buddhist monks have shaved heads. For Sikhs, Kesh is the practice of allowing one’s hair to grow naturally as a symbol of devotion to God and lack of worldliness. In Jewish and other cultures, shortening hair signifies mourning and sadness.
Many American Indian men wore long hair before the arrival of western influences on their culture. (In Cherokee legends, for example, males said to be handsome were often described as having “long hair almost to the ground” or similar formulas). Both men and women of these cultures have frequently struggled to maintain their tradition, but have faced heavy opposition. Many consider it a sign of giving in to western influences to have their hair cut.
In West African cultures, women with long hair were highly valued. Long, thick hair was seen as a sign of health, strength, and capability to bear many children. In keeping with this general theme, women who were too young for marriage would shave a portion of their heads to signal so. This tradition, however, did not extend to every African tribe, as several valued shorter hair.
When black slaves were freed in the Americas, they struggled to reach the social status of whites. Many former slaves tried to conform their hairstyles as part of this struggle. African-American women felt pressured to make their hair straight like white women, rather than keeping the shorter, curlier style they had known. However, during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, African-Americans such as Malcolm X advocated hairstyles such as afros and dreadlocks. Social pressures at the time were heavily influencing African-American females to have long, straight hair, like many Caucasians did. Recently, scholars have observed continued pressure on blacks to have long, straight hair.
Amelian Jones believes that dolls marketed towards children add to this pressure, citing as an example a new black Barbie with long hair. Jones believes that African-American females should maintain their “African” cultural norms without feeling pressured to “tame” their hair.
This brief history is an effort for you to see how hair is viewed in different cultures and also the pressures within different cultures regarding how one should or should not wear/style their hair. We all know and appreciate that history helps to define our thoughts, our opinions and the way we may or may not view something.
Throughout many generations and cultures people have masked their natural self to conform to the beliefs, opinions or expectations of others. Many have been challenged and found it difficult to accept and display who they naturally are especially in regards to their hair. Your natural self is and should be determined by you.
Someone tells you that you should be a size 6 but as far back as you can remember you have never been less than a size 12. And furthermore you have always been comfortable with your size and who you are. So who should determine your body size? You, who knows your body type and your mindset towards your body type, or someone with an opinion of what size you should be. Someone tells you that you have “bad hair” and should do something about it, but you know that your hair does not shed, does not break, has a wonderful shine and is strong and looks healthy. So who should determine what your hair should look like? And what is “bad hair”? And furthermore what is “good hair”?
Good hair to me is hair that is healthy, strong, does not break or shed, or pop; hair that shines and is bouncy. If I know that this is the type of hair that I have, why am I going to let someone else’s opinion dictate what my hair should look like. Why am I going to mask the “natural” me to appease someone else? In what other areas of our lives do we appease others and deep down inside our spirits we know that we are compromising who we are to be “accepted” by someone else?
The bible admonishes us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. One of the definitions that I found for transformation is “a change in disposition, heart, character, or the like; conversion”. The word renew means reestablish on a new, usually improved, basis or make new or like new. What the above scripture says to me is that in order to be changed from a state that does not serve us from a higher perspective and value, we must first consciously acknowledge that our mindset and the way we think about things needs to improve.
I ask you all to consider and ponder this question today……..what is your mindset, your thought process regarding God’s creation in the person of you? In reflecting on this question it is important that you intentionally journey on an honest path with yourself. Are the thoughts that you are carrying about yourself today serving you at the highest place of truth and divinity. What was God’s purpose for creating you and are you endeavoring to fulfill that purpose or are you just rolling with the punches and accepting whatever may come your way? Or worse, allowing other people’s opinions to shape you into someone you were not created to be?