Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hair and the Heart

Anyone who says that hair is nothing but strands of dead protein growing out of our scalps does not understand its importance, both to the woman it is a part of, and the society she inhabits.

Long bob with fringe hairstyle
Long bob with fringe hairstyle

Hair not only conveys our sense of style to the world, it can be a manifestation of our inner emotional state.

Dr David Castle, co-author of Living With Your Looks, says that "a woman's hair carries a strong emotional and cultural investment. It can express life, attractiveness, femininity, sexuality, health and personality, to name just some aspects."

When a woman goes through a period of emotional hardship - whether that be the death of a family member, the breakup of a relationship, or countless other life-changing scenarios - she can be tempted to drastically alter her appearance, and often does so by cutting or coloring her hair.

"There is a very strong heritage in our society, in fact, many human societies, on the augmentation of appearance for people's mental state," says Castle.

In other words, altering our appearance, by getting a drastic haircut, for example, can be a symbolic way of healing our inner states.

Think of when Britney Spears shaved her head - she had hit rock bottom, both in her career and her personal life. She was not serving some vain purpose by making a change in her image; she was externalizing her inner pain and using the removal of her hair as a means of symbolic reinvention.

Of course, any changes in appearance that are made will only give temporary relief to emotional pain: and sometimes, if we regret the change, can make it that much worse.

By being aware that you may feel compelled to make large changes to your hair when emotional crises occur, you may be able to avoid a hair disaster before it happens. Any release that we feel as a result of hair alterations will only be temporary - it is the heart, and not our hair, that we must attend to first.

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