- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
|1||The History of Women's Hair||3|
|2||Hot Combs and Scarlet Ribbons||30|
|3||Pontails and Purple Mohawks||63|
|4||What We Do for Love||92|
|5||Paychecks and Power Haircuts||113|
|7||At the Salon||165|
|8||"I'll Dye Until I Die"||190|
|9||No More Bad Hair Days||219|
In Rapunzel's Daughters, author and sociologist Rose Weitz explores what women's struggles with "bad hair days" reveal about women's identities, intimate relationships, work lives, and attitudes toward their bodies. Based on four years of interviews and focus groups conducted with a diverse sample of American girls and women, the book is organized around the stages of a woman's life, from girlhood to old age. It shows how girls learn to view their hair as central to their identities, how during adulthood women's hair affects their intimate relationships and work lives, and how as women's hair changes through aging or illness they struggle to learn new lessons about living life fully and about accepting themselves as they are.
The following questions focus on these concerns, and are designed to deepen your understanding of both the book and your own "hair history."
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. In her introduction, Weitz argues that although hair might seem a trivial topic, it is not trivial at all (p. xii). Does she convince you? If yes, how? If no, why not?
2. In chapter 1, "The History of Women's Hair," Weitz writes: "Across cultures and down the centuries, . . . ideas about women's hair reflected ideas about women's nature and about how women should live their lives" (p. 3). What does she mean by this? Can you provide some examples?
3. How does the history of blacks in America affect ideas about black women's appearances nowadays, among both whites and blacks? How does this history continue to affect contemporary black girls' and women's experiences with their hair?
4. Overall, how do the experiences and feelings of minority women (black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American) regarding their hair differ from those of white women? How has your ethnicity, race, or religion affected your experiences about and feelings toward your hair?
5. In both chapter 2, "Hot Combs and Scarlet Ribbons," and chapter 3, "Ponytails and Purple Mohawks," the author discusses the messages girls receive about their hair from the media (pp. 49–53 and 65–70). What are those messages? Which parts of those messages do you think are healthy? Which parts are dangerous? What can you do to protect the girls in your life from the dangerous messages?
6. The author argues that girls quickly learn to consider their hair, and their appearance more generally, as central to their identity. How do girls learn this lesson?
7. Is your hair a part of your identity—of who you are? What do you want your hair to tell others about you? Do others ever misinterpret what you are trying to say with your hair?
8. In chapter 2, "Hot Combs and Scarlet Ribbons," Weitz argues that mothers often teach their daughters that they should suffer for beauty (pp. 37–39). Why is it mothers who take on this role? Can you give examples from your own life in which your mother taught you that you should—or should not—sacrifice for beauty?
9. What role does hair play in competition among girls and among women? Who and what are they competing for, and how do they compete?
10. What are some of the pleasures that hair offers girls? Can you remember examples from your own life?
11. In chapter 3, "Ponytails and Purple Mohawks," Weitz argues, "The notion that we can change our identity by changing our appearance is deeply rooted in American culture" (p. 64). What does she mean by this, and do you agree or disagree? Did you ever change your hair to change your identity?
12. Weitz writes, "As girls enter adolescence, not only do the rewards for looking attractive increase, but the rewards available from other sources diminish" (p. 72). What does she mean by this? Is her argument convincing?
13. How do boys' and men's experiences with hair differ from girls' and women's? How do men's experiences of hair loss differ from women's? On what basis does Weitz argue that hair and appearance have far more impact on females than on males?
14. How do the hair struggles of lesbians differ from those of heterosexual women?
15. Chapter 4, "What We Do for Love," explores the role hair plays in women's romantic relationships. How do women use their hair to increase their power in relationships? How do men use women's hair to show their power in relationships? Have you ever used your hair to get what you want from a man? Has a man ever used your hair to show his power over you?
16. In chapter 5, "Paychecks and Power Haircuts," Weitz documents what women's hair tells us about women's work lives. As she shows, one basic question women face is whether to emphasize or downplay femininity in styling their hair for work. Why do some working women emphasize femininity in their hair choices? Why do others downplay femininity? What are the benefits and problems of each strategy? Do you think your hair makes it harder or easier for you to achieve what you want at work?
17. Chapter 6, "Bald Truths," describes the experiences of women who lose their hair to chemotherapy or genetic conditions. How do women adapt—or fail to adapt—to severe hair loss? Why do so many women find losing their hair to chemotherapy more traumatic than losing a breast to mastectomy?
18. For chapter 6, the author also interviewed women who chose to shave their heads. What were their reasons for doing so? What, if anything, can we learn from their experiences?
19. Chapter 7, "At the Salon," explores the pleasures women find at beauty salons. What are the social, psychological, and physical pleasures women can find in beauty salons?
20. For chapter 7, the author interviewed several stylists about their work and their lives. In what ways is the work of hair stylists similar to, and different from, that of psychotherapists? What are the difficulties stylists face in deciding how to interact with clients? What kind of relationship do you have with your stylist?
21. Weitz opens chapter 8, "‘I'll Dye Until I Die,'" by discussing the stereotypes of aging women in American media and culture (pp. 190–96). What are those stereotypes? What older women characters can you think of in mass media, and how are those characters portrayed?
22. What are women's fears of growing old? How do stereotypes of older women, along with women's fears of growing old, affect women's hair decisions?
23. What are the benefits women obtain from dyeing their hair to cover the gray? From not dyeing their hair? In what circumstances, if any, do you think women should dye their gray hair?
24. Did the book change your impression regarding whether blondes really do have more fun? What, if anything, do you think is a good reason for dyeing one's hair? What, if anything, do you think is a bad reason? If you have ever dyed your hair a different color, did it affect how others thought about you, or how you thought about yourself?
25. Were you surprised by what you read in the book about the experiences of those whose race, religion, or ethnicity differs from your own?
26. The final chapter, "No More Bad Hair Days," addresses how we can create a society in which girls and women will be freer from social pressures and better able simply to enjoy their hair. What changes can individuals make to help create such a society? What broader social changes are needed to accomplish this goal?
"[A] great, clever, and insightful book [that] gives new insight into our cultural fetish." --Pepper Schwartz, University of Washington
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ROSE WEITZ is a professor of sociology and women's studies at Arizona State University. She is the author of several books, including Life with AIDS, as well as the editor of The Politics of Women's Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance, and Behavior.
Posted March 23, 2013
Haley OSU Comp student spring 2013.
Hair is one of the first things people notice about us and it is something that has always been known to play a big role in our lives. Rose Weitz does an exceptional job at exploring the role that hair plays in our lives, and what it reveals about us. She explores the many struggles women face with bad hair days, intimate reationships, work lives, and much more. She provides a great collection of pictures revealing secrets of the hair industry throughout the decades and countless interviews.
Posted November 27, 2012
No text was provided for this review.