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Hair and Who I Am

Hair and Who I Am

I originally set out to write an article on best songs with “hair” in the song title. I found just over 20 songs and started listening to them and researching their lyrics. I was going to pick my top five. As I listened to the songs, my intention of picking the top five shifted to something deeper. Three songs struck me because they posed an interesting question: How much of our sense of self comes from our hairstyle choice?

The lyrics to the three songs below revolve around this question.

1. Almost Cut My Hair – By Crosby, Stills and Nash

“Almost cut my hair

It happened just the other day

It was getting kind of long

I could have said it was in my way

But I didn’t and I wonder why

I feel like letting my freak flag fly

And I feel like I owe it to someone”

Back in 1970 when this song came out, having long hair as a man was a statement of nonconformity. Men with long hair were rebellious hippies who let their “freak flags fly”. Has that changed? I would say no. Nowadays lots of men have longer hair, but when I say longer I mean hair to about mid-neck. I still see very few men with hair to their shoulders or longer. My boss is a forty two year old man who has awesome curly brown hair. His goal was to grow his hair long enough to where he needed a head band, about to his shoulders. He’s an ambitious goal setter, my boss. Well he ended up cutting it before it was even close to his shoulders. When I commented on it, he goes, “Yeah, I need to just grow up.” Then I answered, “Why does it mean a man’s not a grown up if he has long hair?” My boss has proven that he’s a responsible and mature businessman and adult. Would we see him differently if he grew is hair long? Would he see himself differently?

When I told my boyfriend, Diego, what I was writing about, he had a story to tell as well. He’s had longer hair almost his entire adult life, but when I say longer this time I mean hair to about mid-back!

During his teen years, Diego buried himself in computer books. Upon

graduating high school in Buenos Aires, he enrolled in a technical college to continue his studies. By the time he was in his early twenties, he was leading project teams for major software development initiatives. Did I mention Diego’s a nerd? Between his early to mid-twenties he started getting pressure from his boss and other colleagues to cut his hair. He refused, however, because of his hair rebellion, he felt he had to work harder and longer in order to prove himself and dispel the notions that a long-haired man is irresponsible, immature, unprofessional, or unruly. Diego eventually gained respect in his industry and still has incredibly long hair to this day at age forty three. He’s happy he stayed true to himself and didn’t give in to corporate pressure to cut his hair.

So just how much does our hairstyle choice impact our sense of self? India Arie and Lady Gaga weigh in below. Who do you agree with and why? Maybe you agree with both. Maybe you disagree with both. That’s okay, this is not a black and white question with just one answer.

2. I am Not My Hair – by India Arie


“I am not my hair

I am not this skin

I am not your expectations no no

I am not my hair

I am not this skin

I am this soul that lives within”

3. Hair – Lady Gaga


“I just want to be myself

And I want you to love me for who I am

I just want to be myself

And I want you to know,

I am my hair

I’ve had enough

I’m not a freak

I just keep fightin’

To stay cool on the streets

I’ve had enough, enough, enough

And this is my prayer, I swear

I’m as free as my hair

I’m as free as my hair

I am my hair

I am my hair.”