Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells Us About Women's Lives [NOOK Book]

Overview



The first book to explore the role of hair in women's lives and what it reveals about their identities, intimate relationships, and work lives

Hair is one of the first things other people notice about us--and is one of the primary ways we declare our identity to others. Both in our personal relationships and in relationships with the larger world, hair sends an immediate signal that conveys messages about ...
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Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells Us About Women's Lives

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Overview



The first book to explore the role of hair in women's lives and what it reveals about their identities, intimate relationships, and work lives

Hair is one of the first things other people notice about us--and is one of the primary ways we declare our identity to others. Both in our personal relationships and in relationships with the larger world, hair sends an immediate signal that conveys messages about our gender, age, social class, and more.
In Rapunzel's Daughters, Rose Weitz first surveys the history of women's hair, from the covered hair of the Middle Ages to the two-foot-high, wildly ornamented styles of pre-Revolutionary France to the purple dyes worn by some modern teens. In the remainder of the book, Weitz, a prominent sociologist, explores--through interviews with dozens of girls and women across the country--what hair means today, both to young girls and to women; what part it plays in adolescent (and adult) struggles with identity; how it can create conflicts in the workplace; and how women face the changes in their hair that illness and aging can bring. Rapunzel's Daughters is a work of deep scholarship as well as an eye-opening and personal look at a surprisingly complex-and fascinating-subject.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is a fascinating read of the ways in which women have changed their identities by changing their appearance. Through in-depth interviews, Rose Weitz explores the cultural statements that different women make through their choice of hairstyle, which is a creative way to approach questions of identity, adolescence, and aging, changing cultural norms about appearance, and power dynamics." —Rosanna Hertz, Chair, Women's Studies, Wellesley College

"We spend so much time obsessing about our hair—and so little time understanding why we do it! This great, clever and insightful book gives new insight into our cultural fetish. A fascinating read." —Pepper Schwartz, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Washington

Publishers Weekly
This earnest roundup of anecdotes, interviews, statistics and remarks about hair and self-image among women in postwar America is engaging enough, but there's not much news here. Apart from a short historical survey at the beginning that includes a few suggestive facts, the only really informative part of this book is the chapter called "At the Salon" where we learn a good deal about the profession of hairdressing: who does it, what its economics are, how its distinctive caste system works. To be fair, information is not really Arizona State University sociologist Weitz's aim. Her main goal is to authorize a common feminine obsession with hair (her own included, of course) as a subject of serious discussion. It is also, worthily enough, to make the discussion more inclusive than other books like this often are. Weitz interviews many minority women, children, lesbians and older women, but her analysis of this rich material suffers from insufficient depth of cultural perspective. Weitz avers that hair is a uniquely powerful medium of self-presentation, but makes no attempt to distinguish between hair and dress, say, or between head and facial or body hair. Observing that the typical black hair salon functions not as a feminine preserve but as a community meeting place, she finds little large-scale significance in its public and private constructions of the activity of coiffing. Similarly, she alludes to different meanings attached to long hair, short hair or hairlessness mostly in terms of different individual experiences. The overall effect is diverting, well-intentioned light reading (including 16 pages of b&w photos) that doesn't quite fulfill the subtitle's promise. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
From long blond curls to involuntary baldness, Weitz (sociology, Arizona State Univ.) considers the role that hair plays in women's lives. She opens with a brief history of women's hair and then offers views from women she interviewed from various ethnic groups, ages, and life situations to learn what their hair means to them and how it affects their self-esteem and relationships. Weitz also considers the role hair plays in employment, citing several women who either changed their hair in anticipation of job interviews or said that their appearance was regularly critiqued on the job. Though Weitz sees no problem with women enjoying their hair and changing it as they please, she wants women to challenge society's expectations about women's beauty and calls for women to be valued for their skills and accomplishments rather than their appearance. This is a very readable but more academic treatment of hair than Diane Simon's Hair: Public, Private, Extremely Personal (2000). Recommended for academic libraries.-Debra Moore, Cerritos Coll., Norwalk, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A sociologist looks at why hair matters so much and what our concerns about hair have to say about who we are, as well as who we hope to be. In researching her subject, Weitz (Sociology/Arizona State; ed., The Politics of Women's Bodies, not reviewed) held two focus groups with women over 50 and two with teens-one of heterosexuals, one of both lesbians and bisexuals-and she interviewed 74 girls and women varying in age, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation, and, of course, hair color and style. After an all-too-brief introductory chapter on the history of women's hair, she turns to these conversations to examine what they reveal about the role hair plays at various stages of life, from childhood to old age. With liberal use of quotes, she demonstrates how young girls are taught to value hair, how the media affect teenagers' ideas about appearance, and how they use their hairstyles to explore their identities and make statements about their desire to fit in or stand out from the crowd. Subsequent chapters explore how hair figures in women's intimate relationships, sometimes becoming a battleground for power struggles, and how women adopt certain styles to compete in the job market. Weitz also looks at the camaraderie provided by hair salons, where women develop warm relationships with their stylists and with other women. Women who have lost their hair through illness share their feelings about baldness, revealing the impact that hair loss often has on one's self-image and self-esteem. Similarly, women whose hair has faded to gray or is thinning out discuss how these changes of aging affect their perceptions of themselves and the different ways they cope or elect not tocope with them. Weitz acknowledges the pleasure hair gives girls and women, but she is deeply concerned about the cultural expectations about female appearance that lead to obsessions about hair. Her aim is to free girls and women from what she calls "the bonds of the beauty culture," and her final chapter, aptly titled "No More Bad Hair Days," offers some advice on achieving this goal. Not much new here-at least for female readers-but should provide women's-studies classes with points for discussion. (16 pp. b&w photos, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429931137
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 1/12/2005
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,202,434
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author



Rose Weitz is a professor of sociology at Arizona State University and is past president of Sociologists for Women in Society. She is the author of several books and the editor of The Politics of Women's Bodies.
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Read an Excerpt

 

Rapunzel's Daughters

ONE

The History of Women’s Hair

 

 

Across cultures and down the centuries, women’s hairstyles have varied wildly, from the ankle-length false braids worn in twelfth-century England to the chin-length “bobs” of 1920s flappers. But in each time and place, ideas about women’s hair reflected ideas about women’s nature and about how women should live their lives.

THE ANCIENT WORLD

To understand ideas about women’s hair in contemporary America, we need to begin with the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, whose ideas about women’s bodies dominated “scientific” thought from the fourth century B.C. through the nineteenth century A.D. Aristotle believed that women were merely “misbegotten men,” formed when embryos lacked sufficient “heat” to become male. Lack of heat, he believed, caused women to be smaller, frailer, and less intelligent than men, with emotional and moral weaknesses that endangered any men who came under their spell.1

Pre-modern Christian theologians, undoubtedly familiar with Aristotle’s philosophy, used a different logic to arrive at similar conclusions. They believed that Eve, and all women after her, were inherently more susceptible than men to the passions of the flesh and the Devil’s seductions. As a result, women posed constant dangers to men’s souls, having the power to tempt men as Eve had tempted Adam. Meanwhile, folktales told of mermaids and sirens, like the Lorelei, who enchanted and entrapped sailors by singing while combing their long tresses.

Each of these philosophies, theologies, and folktales blamed women for tempting men rather than blaming men for tempting women or for succumbing to women’s temptations. Because of this and because women’s hair was considered especially seductive, for many centuries both Jewish and Christian law required married women (and, in some times and places, single women) to veil their hair; all nuns—“brides of Christ”—were required to veil their hair until the 1960s.2

It’s a short leap from these beliefs to ancient—and modern—Western marriage customs. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Jews always veiled brides before their weddings. During the ceremony the bride would be unveiled for her husband and the audience, then re-veiled by her husband, her hair never again to be seen by another man. These traditions were reflected in language. The Hebrew word for bride, kalah, derives from a word meaning “to cover,” and the Latin word for “to marry”—nubere, the source of the English word “nuptials”—literally means to veil, as clouds (nubes) cover the sky. Following the same logic, by the time of Jesus, Jewish law permitted a man to divorce a woman by uncovering her hair. In addition, if a woman ever uncovered her own hair in public, the law took this as evidence of her infidelity and permitted her husband to divorce her without returning her dowry or paying her alimony. For centuries thereafter, Christian and Jewish married women throughout most of Europe wore their hair long, bound, and covered.3 Most Muslim cultures, which share some of their roots with Christianity and Judaism, still require women to wear veils outside the home. Conversely, those who oppose either traditional Islamic ideas about women’s status or the cultural and political power of Islamic groups often oppose hair covering. For example, the fiercely secular Turkish government—which from the nation’s founding has feared the rise of Islamic militants—prohibits female students and government employees from wearing head scarves or veils in public schools and government buildings.

THE MIDDLE AGES THROUGH THE ENLIGHTENMENT

In Europe, the requirement that women cover their hair gradually loosened during the Middle Ages, as ideas about fashion began overriding ideas about female modesty. For a brief period in the mid-twelfth century, young, wealthy, married Englishwomen wore their hair uncovered, ornamented with ribbons, and down to their knees or longer, using false additions if needed. Although this fashion soon passed, head covering never regained its former position as an absolute requirement for female propriety. During the sixteenth century, long hair, too, became optional. Because Queen Elizabeth I kept her naturally curly hair relatively short, well-off Englishwomen began to wear their hair cut above their shoulders and curled with the help of awkward and temperamental curling devices. From that point on, increasing numbers of Western women would choose their hairstyles not because of custom but because of fashion, changing their hairstyles as fashions changed. The concept of a “fashionable hairstyle” would spread from the upper classes to the working classes by the 1700s.4

But why, given prevailing religious ideas, would men allow their wives and daughters to wear these fashions? The answer lies at least in part in the growing importance of capitalism and the declining significance of religion. If, in a religion-driven world, men gained status by having a wife who appeared modest, in a market-driven world men gained status by displaying an attractive wife. In the emerging capitalist societies, men could help cement their social status by demonstrating that their women enjoyed the time and money needed to maintain fashionable hairstyles, and by demonstrating the market value of their women’s beauty (in the same way that wealthy men now sport thin, young “trophy wives” on their arms). At the extreme, women’s hair, like women’s dress, could be used to turn women into ornaments, incapable of working or even of caring for themselves. “Conspicuous consumption” was perhaps the point of these fashions. Like the crippled, bound feet of wealthy Chinese women, elaborate hairstyles could show the world that the women in a family needn’t work.

This tendency reached its apex in western Europe between 1770 and 1790, when wealthy, fashionable women wore their hair in ornate, sculpted arrangements, sometimes including such amazing ornaments as two-foot-high ships and birdcages. Women spent hours having their hair arranged. First the hairdresser would create a framework on the woman’s head, made of large pads of rolled wool and horsehair. Then the woman’s own hair would be brushed over this framework, pomaded with lard or beef tallow, augmented with purchased human hair, curled, powdered, and woven with jewels, feathers, or ribbons. At night, maids would remove any ornaments, roll any ringlets or sidecurls, and secure the whole arrangement with netting. In the morning, they would unroll and arrange the curls, then pomade and powder the hair again. Once arranged, the hair would not be combed (let alone washed) for several weeks, making wooden head-scratchers a popular accessory. (Not until the twentieth century would even monthly hair washing become the norm.) These elaborate hairstyles were abandoned around the time of—and perhaps because of—the French Revolution.

THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

In the new U.S. republic, meanwhile, ideas about women’s hair divided along racial lines. American Indian women, black women, and white women faced very different expectations and constraints in making decisions about their hair.

AMERICAN INDIANS

Among American Indians before European conquest, each tribe had its own idea of how girls and women should wear their hair. Although numerous tribes expected women to wear their hair in the long braids that white Americans now associate with Indians, other tribes took pride in their own distinctive styles. Seminole girls and women created a smooth canopy of hair by brushing their long hair first toward and then straight out from their foreheads, then drawing it up, back, and under a hatbrim-shaped frame. Hopi women of marriageable age parted their hair in the middle and pulled it tightly into two ponytails, one above each ear. The first three inches of each ponytail were wrapped tightly with colored twine. The remaining hair was woven around a curved wooden stick, then twisted into a bun-like whorl.

As each tribe in turn was subdued by the U.S. Army—and then, to varying degrees, by U.S. culture—these tribal distinctions faded. Much of this process of cultural homogenization was accomplished by federally run boarding schools, which, from 1879 until the mid-twentieth century, most Indian children were forced to attend. Taken from their families as young as age four, unable to return for months or years at a time, and often housed with children from other tribes who had different languages and customs, these children were both physically and psychologically compelled to adopt the clothing and hairstyles of white Americans.

Those who established these boarding schools believed that Indians would only survive if they abandoned Indian culture, a philosophy summarized in the popular slogan “Kill the Indian to save the man [or woman].” From the 1880s on, one photograph after another of children arriving at boarding schools for the first time shows the children’s physical transformation. Although the particulars differed from tribe to tribe, in the “before” pictures, the children wear loose, traditional clothes and are often wrapped in blankets or shawls. Most of the girls wear their hair falling haphazardly to their shoulders or below, covering their ears and a sliver of their foreheads and cheeks. The rest wear their hair in two braids, one falling in front of each shoulder (perhaps by choice, perhaps because the photographer instructed them to pull their braids forward for the camera to record their “exotic” nature).5

In the “after” pictures, all traces of tribal distinctions are gone and the girls’ (and boys’) hair—considered by school administrators an especially important marker of Indian “savagery”—is subdued. The girls are dressed in starched and fitted dresses, often wearing or carrying bonnets. Most have their hair tightly pulled back from a center part, exposing their ears. In most cases it’s impossible to tell whether the hair is contained in a bun, a braid, or a ponytail, but it certainly is contained.

More rarely, school officials had girls’ hair cut (as was the norm for boys). Zitkala-Sa, a Sioux Indian, recalls how she felt when she realized that the teachers intended to cut her hair. The prospect particularly horrified her because among the Sioux short hair was worn only by mourners or those shamed as cowards. To avoid having her hair cut, she hid under a bed, but was soon discovered:

I remember being dragged out, though I resisted by kicking and scratching wildly. In spite of myself, I was carried downstairs and tied fast to a chair. I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while, until I felt the cold blade of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit.6

Once children returned home from school, their families might restyle their hair traditionally—if the children still had enough hair to do so, and were not now ashamed of tribal ways. Over the generations, traditional styles faded from use, appearing only among the most isolated groups or on special ceremonial occasions.

AMERICAN BLACKS

For American blacks, as for American Indians, hairstyles could indicate either freedom from or suppression by white American culture. Until the early nineteenth century, hairstyling offered one of the few means available to black slaves for expressing pride and identity. Both men and women seized this opportunity, varying their hair’s length and texture to create an enormous range of idiosyncratic styles drawing on African, Indian, and white fashions. After this point, however, new machines that increased the productivity of cotton plantations also lengthened slaves’ workdays and made it nearly impossible for them to maintain such styles. To keep their hair from matting or tangling, women cut their hair short, braided it in small sections, and wrapped it in rags covered by brightly colored bandannas. Those bandannas now offered them their only opportunity for self-expression. Only on Sundays, their one day off, could women brush out and style their hair.7

Yet hair remained central to black women’s self-identity. Over the generations, sexual intercourse (usually involuntary) between black women slaves and their white masters and overseers contributed to creating a panoply of hair textures among blacks, from straight to tightly curled. Because the logic of racism taught both blacks and whites that those who looked most white were most beautiful, black women with straighter hair (and “whiter” features) were often coveted as sexual prizes. Plantation records testify to the importance attached to black women’s hair: In virtually every recorded incident in which a slave was punished by having his or her head shaved, the punished slave was a woman with straight hair and the person who ordered the punishment was a white woman. By so doing, white women could reduce the threat these slaves posed to their marriages while punishing both the slaves and the white men who found them attractive. In the few recorded instances in which a male slave owner used shaving as a punishment, the sexual allure of straight-haired female slaves also played a pivotal role. In one instance, a light-skinned, long-haired female slave accepted a white man from a neighboring plantation as her lover in hopes of gaining his protection against her owner’s sexual advances. Her owner gained vengeance by shaving her head—an action that, he surely expected, would punish both her and her lover.8

AMERICAN WHITES

Throughout the nineteenth century, white women’s status was far higher than that of American Indian or black women, but still far below that of white men. Not until the 1830s did white women begin gaining the rights to own property or keep their own wages, and not until 1920 would they win the right to vote. What’s more, only a few low-paying jobs (primarily in teaching and nursing) were open to them, and most jobs required women to resign once they married. As a result, contracting a good marriage remained women’s surest route to financial security.

During these decades, poor white women had little time or money to devote to their hair, and so wore very simple hairstyles. Middle- and upper-class white women, on the other hand, devoted considerable effort to arranging their hair in ways that would emphasize feminine allure. Although fashions evolved continuously, most required long, straight hair, pulled back or pinned up, and ornamented with curls, ringlets, or purchased additions. Each night, women would braid the long sections of their hair and then either pin up their curls or wrap them in rags. In the morning they used flat irons to straighten the uncurled portions of their hair, used heated curling irons (if they had them) to curl the other portions, and then arranged their curls, ringlets, and additions. Given the time and effort required to create these hairstyles, women avoided any activities that might damage them.9

Beginning in the 1850s, periodic calls from feminists for simpler hairstyles that wouldn’t press women to restrict their activities found few takers, even among feminists. Those calls, at any rate, were only a footnote in the larger struggle for “dress reform,” which primarily—and, for decades, unsuccessfully—aimed to free women from incapacitating corsets, heavy skirts, multiple petticoats, and floor-length dresses. Instead of adopting simpler hairstyles, from the 1870s into the early twentieth century women turned to styles that were even more difficult to maintain, requiring thick masses of hair pinned in intricate arrangements. Women could achieve this look only by hiring professional hairstylists and purchasing false hair; advertisements for hair additions took up three pages in the 1905 Sears, Roebuck catalog. Although these expenses could strain a family’s budget, maintaining these hairstyles was essential, for hair was considered central to feminine beauty (so central that Louisa May Alcott, in her still-popular 1868 book Little Women, could use Jo’s decision to sell her hair to aid her impoverished family as a pivotal scene, knowing that her readers would understand the importance of Jo’s sacrifice).

THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY

Hairstyles for white women changed dramatically with the rise of the “bob”—in which the hair fell straight to about mid-neck and then curled under at the ends—and the even shorter “shingle.” Not only were both styles shockingly short, but they also lacked any feminizing ringlets or curls. These hairstyles first appeared on both sides of the Atlantic during World War I, and within a decade became the norm for fashionable young women.

The bob and the shingle were roundly attacked by many who considered them evidence of female vanity, “loose” morals, or dangerous feminist ideas. Newspaper articles from the time describe employers who refused to hire women with bobbed hair on the grounds that such women were “not thinking about business, but only about having a good time.” Other articles tell of men who beat or abandoned their wives or fiancées for having their hair bobbed. These hairstyles—and public dismay over them—quickly spread around the world. In Japan, a speaker at a national hairdressers’ convention declared, “All bobbers are not dissolute women, but all dissolute women are bobbers.”10

They needn’t have worried. In reality, the rise of the bob had little connection to any feminist impulses. By the end of the nineteenth century, feminists were almost solely focusing their energies on winning the vote for women and on other major reforms in politics, health, and education. By this time, too, women’s clothing had become considerably more comfortable and less restrictive than in past decades, so that dress reform of any sort seemed less important to feminists. And once women won the vote in 1920, feminist activism dropped sharply. Not until the late 1960s would feminists again turn their attention to issues of personal appearance.11

The spread of bobbed hair was much more closely connected to the rising importance of mass media. Although the first films appeared in the late nineteenth century, they only emerged as a mass medium—in fact, the first truly mass medium—around 1914. From this point on, films would be produced for and distributed to all social classes and all regions of the country, as well as to Western Europe. And from this point on, certain actors and actresses would be promoted as stars and their fashion choices emulated by millions.12 One of those fashions was bobbed hair.

Both films and the new film fan magazines now rapidly spread news of fashion trends around the country and the world. By the 1920s, polls found that girls were going to the movies almost weekly. In contrast to polls conducted earlier in the twentieth century, polls conducted from the 1920s on found that young people more often named movie stars as their role models than named contemporary political, business, or artistic leaders.13 Fan magazines ran stories in each issue on the clothing, lifestyles, and hairstyles of movie actresses, recounting how Mary Pickford agonized over whether to cut her trademark curls into a bob, and how Norma Shearer could run her electric curling iron using her car battery. The most popular fan magazine, Photoplay, ran several ads in each issue for hair-care products, including shampoos, curling irons, dyes for covering gray hair, and conditioners to create thicker hair. Advertisers often used photos of and endorsements from movie stars to sell their products; Watkins Mulsified Cocoanut Oil for Shampooing, for example, ran photos and endorsements from Norma Talmadge, Alice Brady, Blanche Sweet, and May Allison under the headline “How famous movie stars keep their hair beautiful.”14 Meanwhile, for those leery of cutting their hair, National Hair Goods advertised the National Bob wig. An ad from January 1921 asks rhetorically, “Bobbied [sic] hair is fashionable, but why sacrifice your hair? I didn’t. I wear a chic National Bob.” From this point on, Hollywood would vie with Paris as a source of fashion trends for women on both sides of the Atlantic.

The early female movie stars divided neatly into two groups, epitomized by their hair. The first two great women stars were Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford. Although Pickford typically portrayed spunky and rebellious girls and Gish portrayed sweet girls, both always portrayed sexually innocent girls. To do so, both kept their hair in long, usually blonde, curls for years after other fashionable women switched to bobs; Pickford didn’t cut her hair until her late thirties, Gish not until her early forties.

By the 1920s, the popularity of Pickford and Gish was rivaled by that of a new kind of female film star, the so-called vampire. On screen, “vamps” like Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Joan Crawford exuded an adult female sexuality that seemed almost to destroy the men who adored them, just as vampires drained the life from their victims. In obvious contrast to the “virginal” Pickford and Gish, the vamps sported dark, bobbed hair. During the course of the 1920s, the vamps’ personae would become tamer, their eroticism subdued and replaced by the independent spirits, physical vitality, and more innocent, wait-until-we’re-married sex appeal of the “flapper.” But the bobs remained.

The movies of the 1920s implicitly taught their female viewers to adopt a flapper style and attitude to get or keep a man. In movie after movie, women shortened their skirts, bobbed their hair, and learned to exploit their sex appeal either to catch a husband or to retrieve one who had been tempted away by a flapper. These lessons did not go unnoticed; female moviegoers interviewed by researchers between 1929 and 1933 admitted readily that they modeled themselves after their favorite stars. A Joan Crawford fan said, “I watch every little detail, of how she’s dressed, and her makeup, and also her hair.” And a Norma Shearer fan wrote, “I went to see every one of her pictures. I wore my hair like hers, imitated her smile, and went in to the seventh heaven of delight if told that I resembled her.”15 That bobbed hair appalled girls’ parents only added to its allure, for it allowed girls to flaunt their membership in a new era and a new generation.

Far from simplifying women’s lives, as feminists might have hoped, the new hairstyles compelled women to spend more money and time on their hair. Whereas women who grew their hair long could easily find a friend to trim the ends every few months, those who bobbed their hair needed to go to professional hairstylists every few weeks to have it shaped properly. The popularity of the new Marcel “permanent” wave, which could be obtained only at beauty parlors, also increased women’s reliance on stylists. As a result, the number of beauty parlors in the United States skyrocketed from 5,000 in 1920 to 40,000 in 1930. Later hair fashions also required women to continue braiding or wrapping their hair nightly, as women had for decades.16

Because of mass media, now all young women, regardless of their social class, ethnicity, or marital status, would be exposed to the latest hair fashions, and expected to follow them. In her research on Mexican-American women who came of age in the 1920s, historian Vicki Ruiz learned that the most common reason women took jobs (other than to help their families) was to buy the consumer goods the mass media taught them to covet. Rosa Guerrero, for example, gave most of her earnings to her mother, but saved the rest to buy peanut butter—a potent symbol of American culture—and shampoo, to wash her hair like the stars in the movie magazines, rather than with the Oxydol laundry soap of the poor.17

Until well into the twentieth century, the only well-known Mexican-American actresses were Lupe Velez and Dolores Del Rio. Both these actresses were regularly typecast as “Latin temptresses” in films such as Hot Pepper, Strictly Dynamite, and The Mexican Spitfire, and usually kept their hair long. Although some young Mexican-American women admired Velez and Del Rio and modeled their own looks after these actresses’, others dreamed of becoming the next Clara Bow or Joan Crawford, and bobbed their hair. The generation gap and culture gap this created, between bobbed young women and more traditional members of their community, is reflected in a popular corrido (ballad) of the time, “Las Pelonas” (“The Bobbed-Haired Girls”). The corrido lamented that

The girls of San Antonio

are lazy at their corn-grinding.

They want to walk out bobbed-haired,

with straw hats on.

The harvesting is finished;

so is the cotton.

The flappers stroll out now

for a good time.

Black women, too, became avid moviegoers beginning in the early twentieth century, drawn both to mainstream films produced essentially for white audiences and to “race films” produced for segregated black audiences. Both sets of films carried into the twentieth century the same messages that had become embedded in black culture under slavery. Unattractive, poor “mammies” (like the characters typically played by the actresses Butterfly McQueen and Ethel Waters) were assumed to have short, kinky hair under their bandannas, while beautiful women (like the light-skinned Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge) had long, more or less straight hair. Not until the “blaxploitation” movies of the late 1960s would any adult black actress be shown with “natural” hair. (Whoopi Goldberg notwithstanding, natural hair of any sort remains rare in films.)

To obtain the straight hair that fashion and social norms demanded, black women spent many of their hard-earned dollars on hair-straightening products. Advertisements for such products ran regularly in black-oriented magazines and newspapers. An advertisement placed in New York Age magazine in 1910 read: “Race [i.e., black] men and women may easily have straight, soft, long hair by simply applying Plough’s Hair Dressing and in a short time all your kinky, snarly, ugly, curly hair becomes soft, silky, smooth, straight, long and easily handled, brushed, or combed.”18 In fact, unlike white women’s magazines, which ran advertisements for a wide variety of beauty products from girdles to skin softeners to hair dyes, for decades the only beauty products advertised in black periodicals were skin lighteners, wigs with straight hair, and hair straighteners—products still advertised today in black magazines.

Early hair straighteners consisted of dangerous chemicals applied with dangerously hot implements. Hair straightening became considerably more popular after 1905, when black entrepreneur Madame C. J. Walker popularized a relatively safe method for doing so. Customers would shampoo Walker’s “Hair Grower” into their hair, heat her special metal “hot comb” over a stove, dip it in her trademark oil, and then comb it through their hair. The popularity of her products made Walker the first black millionaire.19

Unlike others before or since who sold hair straighteners, Walker never advertised her products as such, and publicly rejected the idea that European hair and facial features were superior. Although black radicals of the time accused her of promoting black self-hatred, she consistently denied their charges and claimed that her products simply produced longer, healthier hair, which could increase black women’s self-esteem, personal dignity, and social status. Because Walker encouraged her clients to wash their hair regularly—not the norm at the time for either white or black women—and because her products were less harsh than those of her competitors, her hair-care system probably did produce healthier and thus longer hair. (Not until midcentury would most white women begin washing their hair weekly rather than monthly.) At the same time, her very success helped make hair straightening a necessity for any black woman who wanted to be successful or be considered attractive. In the process, hair straightening came to be viewed as a weapon in the fight against a dominant culture that labeled black women promiscuous, dirty, ugly, and unintelligent. As the sociologist Maxine Craig explains, “Straightened hair represented access to hair products, sanitation, leisure, and relative prosperity. A woman who put time and money into her appearance was dignified, and her dignity spoke well of the race. Grooming was a weapon in the battle to defeat racist depictions of blacks.”20 What’s more, by promoting an image of black female beauty—even if that image depended on making black women’s hair look more like white women’s—blacks challenged the idea that they could not be beautiful.

THE LATE TWENTIETH CENTURY

During the second half of the twentieth century, women gained a greater range of hairstyling choices. Among both whites and blacks, no single hairstyle would hold sway as the proper and required style in quite the way that the bob had in the 1920s or that the pageboy did in the 1940s. Similarly, during this time period, women would gain the freedom to color their hair without risking either their physical health or their social standing.

THE BLONDE REVOLUTION

It wasn’t always this way. Until the twentieth century, hair dyeing was difficult, unpredictable, short-lasting, and dangerous, often requiring women to use skin-burning lye and poisonous lead. At any rate, women had little reason to dye their hair. Older women were expected to have gray hair, and those who dyed their hair risked ridicule if their subterfuge was discovered. And women whose hair lost its childhood blondeness had little to regret, since Western culture for generations (from Sleeping Beauty to Mary Pickford) had mostly associated blonde hair with childlike purity and dark hair with sexiness and passion.

The seeds of the “blonde revolution” were first sown in 1868, when the British vaudevillian Lydia Thompson’s burlesque troupe of voluptuous, dyed blondes captured the hearts—and eyes—of American men. For the first time, Americans began to link blondeness with an erotic combination of innocent spirits and passionate bodies (think of Marilyn Monroe).21

Although hair dyeing remained uncommon, blonde hair continued to grow in popularity in the early twentieth century. It’s probably not coincidence that this happened simultaneously with the great rise in immigration from southern and eastern Europe. As these immigrants congregated in the ghettos and factories of America’s cities, native-born Americans, whose families had emigrated primarily from northern and western Europe, began regarding the newcomers as members of a dangerous, “dark,” and inferior “Mediterranean” race—not quite black, but not quite white, either. Stereotypes of Italian, Greek, Jewish, Russian, and other immigrants, like stereotypes of blacks, denigrated these immigrants as unintelligent, untrustworthy, coarse, and so sexually licentious that their uncontrolled birthrates threatened to destroy American civilization. Similarly, in his influential 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race, Madison Grant argued that “the citadel of civilization will fall” if the Nordic race (which he believed included all blondes) wiped itself out through intermarriage with the “brunet” races of southern and eastern Europe. Although in reality many northern and western Europeans had dark hair and many of the new immigrants had blonde hair, these ideas linking immigrants, dark hair, and dangerous inferiority undoubtedly increased the value of blondeness.22

Still, dyeing one’s hair remained risque: The obviously dyed blondes of the 1930s movies—Jean Harlow, Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell—were usually depicted as brassy, brash, working-class, and openly sexual; the dangers they posed for men were captured in film titles like Blonde Crazy and Blonde Trouble. In contrast, tall, slim women whose hair looked naturally blonde and whose manner seemed upper-class benefited from a very different set of social stereotypes, which highlighted their beauty while granting them a cool and untouchable sexuality. Such “ice maidens” included Grace Kelly and, in many of her films, Ingrid Bergman. (Gwyneth Paltrow continues this tradition.)

Because of the stigma attached to hair dyeing, most women who dyed their hair did their best to keep it secret. Hair salons obliged, offering, until the late 1940s, separate entrances and curtained booths for women who wanted their hair dyed.

During the 1930s and 1940s, hair dyes became safer, easier to apply, and longer-lasting. Although hair straighteners left black women’s hair too fragile for most to consider using even these new, gentler dyes, dyeing did grow in popularity among white women. This rise in hair dyeing also reflected the growing “cult of youth,” which would continue to gain strength throughout the twentieth century and increasingly stigmatize gray hair in women.23

The big boom in hair dyeing, however, didn’t come until the 1950s, following a Clairol advertising campaign developed by copywriter Shirley Polykoff. Polykoff, the dark-haired daughter of poor, immigrant Jewish parents, began dyeing her hair blonde as a teenager in the 1920s, decades before the practice was considered socially acceptable. According to her daughter, Alix Nelson, Polykoff dyed her hair not to hide her origins but because “she believed in the [American] dream, and the dream was that you could acquire all the accoutrements of the established affluent class, which included a certain breeding and a certain kind of look. Her idea was that you should be whatever you want to be, including being a blonde.” Polykoff’s campaigns, which continued into the early 1970s and reappeared in 2002, included the still-famous slogans “Does she … or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure,” “Is it true blondes have more fun?” and “If I’ve only one life, let me live it as a blonde.” These campaigns helped make hair dyeing acceptable by using “girl next door” types as models and, in the “Does she … or doesn’t she?” campaign, defusing the sexuality implicit in the slogan’s double entendre by always portraying their models as mothers of young children. Coupled with the fact that many men do prefer blonde hair on women—blondes appear considerably more often as Playboy centerfolds than they appear in the population as a whole—these campaigns caused the percentage of U.S. women who colored their hair to skyrocket from 7 percent in the 1950s to 40 percent in the 1970s. (That percentage has remained steady; most women today who are not simply covering gray buy blonde hair color.)24

Clairol’s products remained the most popular hair dyes until the 1970s, when a twenty-three-year-old female ad writer, Ilon Specht, coined the slogan “I don’t mind spending more for L‘Oréal. Because I’m worth it.” The slogan was inspired by Specht’s battles with her male coworkers, who, she believed, did not think either she or L’Oréal’s female consumers were worth much. Whereas Clairol used male voice-overs to instruct female listeners, L‘Oréal ads used as their spokespeople fashion models and actresses who seemed not only attractive but also independent and strong-willed, including Cybill Shepherd of the television show Moonlighting and Heather Locklear of Melrose Place. In this way L’Oréal sold the message that women should work on their appearance not to catch a man but to demonstrate their own self-worth. Tellingly, L’Oréal hair dyes proved particularly popular among women who were dyeing their hair as they “reinvented” themselves after divorce.25 The “Because I’m worth it” campaign has proved so successful that it’s still in use more than twenty years after it began.

“BLACK POWER” AND ITS AFTERMATH

Like white women, black women also gained greater choices in hairstyle and color during the second half of the twentieth century. This trend accelerated dramatically during the 1960s, as the growth of the civil rights movement led to calls for black women to demonstrate their pride in their African heritage by abandoning hair straightening and letting their hair go “natural.”

Especially before 1966, women who wore Afros faced insults from strangers (both black and white) and dismay from intimates, who considered the hairstyle both unkempt and unfeminine. Employers refused to hire or retain women who wore Afros, and deans at some black colleges threatened them with reprimands or even expulsion as “discredits to the race” who looked unacceptably “country” or “low class.” Although the influential black magazine Jet sometimes ran photos of Miriam Makeba, Odetta, and other Afro-wearing women entertainers, it never described either these women or their hair as pretty. Even within social circles centered on the civil rights and, later, the Black Power movements, women who adopted Afros found that they received greater approval for their political commitment, but had fewer dates.26

By 1968, however, as “black power” and “black is beautiful” became more popular slogans than “equal rights,” the Afro grew considerably more accepted within the black community, and publications such as Jet and Ebony began using models with Afros to advertise a wide range of products. Ironically, the growing acceptance of the Afro eventually proved its undoing: Once the Afro became fashionable, it lost its political implications and, like any other fashion, eventually fell out of style. Those who continued to wear Afros were now seen not as politically committed but merely as unfashionable and dated; when Maxine Craig asked a woman who’d worn an Afro since the 1960s what wearing an Afro meant in the 1990s, the woman replied, “It totally says how old we are.”27

The use of hair straighteners (often referred to as “relaxers”) is more common now than ever before. Nationally, and as has been true for many years, about two-thirds of adult black women straighten their hair. But the development of safer, less painful straighteners in the last few years has caused straightener use to soar among young girls. Women with long, straight hair (along with lighter skin and European features) continue to be considered most attractive by many black men and women, as a look at any black fashion or entertainment magazine demonstrates. Within black communities, hair plays a role in certifying a woman’s beauty similar to that played by weight in white communities: If in white communities a slender woman is sometimes considered attractive regardless of her face or hair, in black communities a woman with long, straight hair is often considered attractive regardless of her face or weight. Not surprisingly, black women spend three times as much as white women on hair-care products and buy three times as many hair-care products, with chemical straighteners by far the largest single sales category.28

Fashions vary regionally, however. Counting heads while traveling around the country, I’ve noticed that in Houston almost all women still wear their hair straightened, whereas in Phoenix braided extensions are growing popular (although straightened hair remains the norm). In Los Angeles, meanwhile, both microbraids and naturals are not uncommon. And in New York City, short naturals no longer turn heads, while a wealth of African immigrants trained in hair arts have driven down the price of braiding, making braids more popular there than elsewhere.

Most black women who don’t straighten their hair wear wigs, multiple braids, or “weaves.” In a weave, purchased fake or real hair (often imported from Asia) is sewn in bunches to a woman’s own hair or to netting sewn to her hair; about one-quarter of black women use some form of hair addition. Although a weave can cost several hundred dollars, take many hours to create, and damage hair over the long run, it frees women from the bother of straightening their hair and allows them to have long, straight hair or simply a fuller head of straight hair. Similarly, most who wear their hair in braids have long strands of purchased hair plaited into their own hair. Depending on the number of braids and extensions and the intricacy of the arrangements, braids can cost from fifty to several hundred dollars and can take from two hours to two days to create—and twice as long to unbraid. Nor does braiding hair necessarily free women from straightening it, for some women choose to straighten their hair before braids are woven in, so the braids will last longer. Once hair is braided, however, it requires no work for several weeks other than regular oiling and shampooing. As a result, on a day-to-day basis it’s easier to maintain than most white women’s hair. Ironically, braids are valued both because they are a distinctively African-American fashion and, by some women, because they offer the very un-African long hair that many black men prefer, while protecting a woman’s natural hair from damage and helping it to grow longer.29

Hair colors never seen in Africa also have grown in popularity recently. New, gentler straighteners and dyes now leave black women’s hair healthier and so allow them to dye their hair with far less risk of damaging it. For the same reason, more black women now feel free to dye their hair lighter colors—an inherently more damaging process than dyeing hair dark colors, since to dye hair a light color it must first be chemically stripped of its natural color. Between 1995 and 1998, retail sales of hair-color products for black women rose 8.3 percent, three times as fast as the overall growth in hair products for black women, with 42 percent of those buying hair color choosing blonde or red shades.30

WOMEN’S HAIR TODAY

Perhaps the greatest change affecting women’s hairstyles from the mid-twentieth century to the present is the dramatically increased emphasis placed on attractiveness. In her book The Body Project, the historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg traced changes in girls’ relationship to their bodies by analyzing a century’s worth of girls’ diaries. She writes,

Before World War I, girls rarely mentioned their bodies in terms of strategies for self-improvement or struggles for personal identity. Becoming a better person meant paying less attention to the self, giving more assistance to others, and putting more effort into instructive reading or lessons at school. When girls in the nineteenth century thought about ways to improve themselves, they almost always focused on their internal character and how it was reflected in outward behavior. In 1892, the personal agenda of an adolescent diarist read: “Resolved, not to talk about myself or feelings. To think before speaking. To work seriously. To be self restrained in conversation and actions. Not to let my thoughts wander. To be dignified. Interest myself more in others.”

[These days,] American girls think very differently. In a New Year’s resolution written in 1982, a girl wrote: “I will try to make myself better in any way I possibly can with the help of my budget and baby-sitting money. I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got new haircut, good makeup, new clothes and accessories.” This concise declaration clearly captures how girls feel about themselves in the contemporary world.31

That girls should feel this way makes perfect sense, for, in contemporary America, our identity and social standing continue to depend on our appearance. Neither the hippie and Black Power movements of the 1960s nor feminist activism since then has changed this basic fact. Although the 1960s counterculture glorified “natural” hair, it did not really free women from the tyranny of the hairstyle. Whether the goal was long, straight hair like Joan Baez’s or a perfect mushroom-shaped Afro like Angela Davis’s, many girls and women found it still took considerable time and effort to achieve this goal.

The feminist movement was the first movement to promote not a specific hairstyle but rather the belief that women shouldn’t be judged by their appearance. During the heyday of the movement in the 1970s, this philosophy allowed some women to breathe a little easier and feel a little more confident regardless of how they wore their hair.

That period, though, has long passed. Although the feminist movement improved women’s lives in many ways, it freed few women from fashion norms. Feminism has helped women gain meaningful and well-paid employment outside the home, but the work world remains largely a male domain. For female professors, computer scientists, and others in fields where “nerd pride” rules and appearance plays a relatively small role in professional success, having a career allows women to develop a sense of self-worth at least partly independent of their appearance. But for most women, entering the work world has created a “double day” of fashion to match the double day of paid work and unpaid housework; women now have to style their appearance not only to please the men in their lives, but also to please their employers and customers.

At the same time, economic independence has freed some women from the need to catch a man in order to survive economically, and so has offered them the freedom to build their relationships on mutual respect and love rather than on appearance. On the other hand, whereas fifty years ago most women had to “catch” a man only once and could expect to keep him for a lifetime, the rise in divorce rates and in intimate relationships before and after marriage has turned finding a romantic partner into a lifelong job for many women.

Meanwhile, the media continue to suggest that women’s appearance should be central to women’s identities. To make matters worse, whereas in the past the media emphasized changing our appearance through corsets and dresses, now they encourage us to micromanage our very bodies. In Seventeen magazine, for example, between 1951 and 1991 the percentage of ads devoted to fashion dropped steadily from 50 percent to 14 percent, while the percentage devoted to diet, perfumes, deodorants, and hair products rose from 26 percent to 67 percent. Ten years later, in 2001, 22 percent of advertisements were for hair-care products alone.32 The imperative to control the body is underlined by the increasing use of images of near-naked female sexuality, which now appear as often in women’s magazines as in men’s magazines. Similarly, singers like Madonna and Britney Spears display their bodies in erotic clothes, postures, and hairstyles on the stage, on network television, and on MTV in ways that only prostitutes and “exotic dancers” would have done twenty years ago.

Few of us can achieve the look propounded by these media. For those who can’t afford cosmetic surgery and who find—as most do—that dieting doesn’t bring lasting weight loss, taking control of our hair can seem the best way to take control of our appearance and, thereby, our lives.

These days, controlling our appearance is especially crucial because our looks drive others to rate us not only physically, but also morally. As nineteenth-century girls’ characters were judged by whether they worked hard and cared about others, now our character is judged by whether we stick to a diet, exercise regularly, and wear stylish clothes (however defined in our social group).33 When we don’t, we are castigated as lazy, irresponsible, stupid, “low class,” or worse. This is why the process Brumberg refers to as the “Body Project”—the constant struggle to attain an ideal body—has become the central project in the lives of so many American girls and women.

Our decisions about our hair are one part of this body project, and so tell a great deal about our identity and social position. Although few priests and rabbis these days lecture about the dangers of women’s hair, we continue to be taught that women’s hair has great sexual power—even if now we are taught to use that power rather than to diminish it. And although the definition of feminine attractiveness varies from community to community and evolves continuously, we are still taught to value having feminine hair. These lessons are learned early, and bring with them both pleasure and pain.

Copyright © 2004 by Rose Weitz

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Table of Contents

Introduction
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
6 Bald Truths 134
7 At the Salon 165
8 "I'll Dye Until I Die" 190
9 No More Bad Hair Days 219
Notes 227
Bibliography 243
Acknowledgments 257
Index 259
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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
This guide is meant to increase your understanding and enjoyment of Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells Us About Women's Lives, whether you read it on your own or with a group.

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?

QUOTE
"[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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2013

    Haley OSU Comp student spring 2013. Hair is one of the first thi

    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. 

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    Posted November 27, 2012

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