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7 Amazing Hair Stories From The 21st Century & Beyond

Over the ages, hair has been of immense interest and significance. So much so that all sorts of lexis, most reeking of flamboyance, such as ‘crown’ have been used in reference to this cuticle enveloped substance. The Swahili saying Akili ni nywele kila mtu ana zake; not only tells of the diversity in types of hair but also symbolically likens it to brains: common to all humans yet akin to Orwell’s Animal Farm, not necessarily equal.

A swahili proverb on hair: Akili ni nywele kila mtu ana zake

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of my favorite Bible stories is that of the strongman Samson and the slay queen Delilah. This story of betrayal and misplaced trust tells of a man of invisible and incredible strength who fell thanks to his woman. Working as a femme fatale of sorts, Delilah earned the trust of So;o,on, learned his deepest secret and then revealed it the Pharisees: that the source of his strength lay in the length of his locks.

The arts, not to be left behind, portray the mysticism of the shock through various creations notably musical compositions . Popular songs such as the 2010 hit Whip My Hair by the female scion of Hollywood poster couple Will and Jada Smith and Neo Soul sensation India Arie’s  I am not my hair – this one is popular among the ladies- are just but examples.

Hair is also a cultural symbol —  all though Morgan Heritage reminds us that “you don’t haffi dread to be rasta,” — Rastafarian dreadlocks tell without uttering a word. Further back, to the time of the Greeks and Latin, we find timeless fables like that  of Periwig and Hair . And if you thought that baldness in men was a modern concern, this collection of folktales about hairless men serve to  further tell of the cultural statement of those cuticle covered strands that cover our bodies as primates.

Value of Human Hair Industry 

Human hair has enabled beauty to be bought of the shelf for bot h men and women alike. Hair collected by hair collectors, swept from the floors of barber shops and beauty salons, picked from garbage dumps in some cases and collected from temples in the east after tonsuring, is processed and styled into hair extensions, wigs and weaves that go for as much as $4,000.

Exporters in the multi-billion dollar hair industry offer that buyers from countries such as the United States pay $1.50 for a strand of unprocessed human hair, alluding to the margins involved and in my view apportioning value to a single strand of hair: Next time you get a hair cut, it may be worthy to consider barter for the services rendered.

  1 Maasai Morans

Among the pastoralism practicing communities of East Africa, notably the Samburu and Maasai, young warriors -Morans- twist their mane and dye it red with a mixture of animal fat and red-ochre as makeup. This happens more often during community celebrations such as the installation of new elders, marriage and other festivities held during the passage of rites.

Maasai Moran braids a woman's hair as a fellow Moran looks on
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A Maasai Moran Plaits African braids for a client

In the 21st Century, with the eroding impact of global cultures on local cultures, and in an unfortunate fate similar to the one Geishas face in Japan in the shadow of a struggling Japanese economy, some of the Morans have been arm-twisted into a change in vocation.

From the honorable duty of protecting their communities and conducting cattle raids, to hair dressing. Thanks to age old traditional skills passed from one generation to the next, these Morans are some of the most sought after braid twisters in the beauty salons of the cities and towns of East Africa.

2  Hair in Victorian Times

In 15th and 16th century Europe, women exchanged pearls, rare metals and elements in favor of hair off the heads of the deceased as the apt raw martial for jewelry.  Before you cringe your face over this eerie bit of information, the hair used was from departed loved ones and was crafted into jewelry to create mementos for remembrance-in part because the technology of photography was yet to reach that part of the world. So popular was this act that before long, it became trendy for Victorian ladies to adorn hair jewelry.

3  Pubic Hair as an Anti -Rape tool

Sometimes back, I came across a story of how women in some of the war fields in parts of Africa had devised a way to protect themselves from the violation of heinous act of rape.

These venerable women choose to grow their pubic hair long, before plaiting across the vestibule to form a screen that they hope will prove troublesome and allow them an opportunity to fight or for help to come along.

I am yet to independently verify this, nonetheless I once heard that every story has some truth in it, thus my reluctance to dismiss this unfortunate hair story its totality. Moreover, this tale is one of the struggle fellow humans face in a bid to survive. A fight that no woman, child or man should face. Fact or fiction? You decide. What is crystal clear though is the duty we all have in fighting for world peace.

4 Poor Blonds

Towards the concluding third of 2010, the story of Olivia O’Neil, a young beauty from Wanganui who wore the Miss Teen crown, trended top on the internet. Miss Olivia had made the cardinal sin of dyeing her hair blonde from brown and posting her new look on her Facebook profile. It’s not clear if she tagged a Ms Barbara Osborne- one of the beauty pageant organizers- but an upset Ms Osborne would stomach none of -what might have been just a bout of her teenage whims- stripping Olivia off her tiara.

It is reported that Ms Osborne’s comment on the Facebook photo plainly revealed her shock at the beauty queens choice of hair color, but most importantly if I might add, the stereotypes attached to blonde hair: “Is that a wig? I hope it is, don’t give me heart failure. Oh my God, I hope it’s a demi. Please tell me that’s a wig.”Ms Osborne posted.

5 Shaving Hair as respect for the dead

Among the Luhya community of western Kenya, it is a common cultural practice to shave hair to pay homage to departed loved ones in a ceremony called ‘livego’. While for the men a clean-shaven head happens to fashionable- it has been since the hey days of NBA star Micheal Jordan- not so for the Luhya ladies as you might rightly imagine.

For the 21st Century Kenyan woman, for beauty reasons alluded to in this post, spotting a ‘Jordan’ may not carry similar aesthetic value. A ‘Jordan’ might do for a few daring ones with a personal sense of fashion capable of confidently and beautifully wearing their hair this way. However, most women opt for a trim along the hairline when paying their last respects.

However, among Kenya’s second most populous tribe, the 6 million strong Luhya nation, respect for the dead is a key cultural distinction thus it isn’t uncommon to find a clean-shaven widow, daughter, sister, aunt or other female relative of the departed loved one.

6 Hair reveals ill health

Did you know that the condition of your mane could be used as a surrogate maker for disease? Healthy people usually have full healthy looking and feeling mop while in some conditions such as protein energy malnutrition, hair thins out, changes color, becomes brittle and is of  course texture.

This is because hair cells are one of the rapidly dividing cells of the human body- a state necessary to replace the normal biological shading of hair- and are thus highly vulnerable to changes in body homeostasis occasioned by disease. In cancer patients on chemotherapy, hair is a culpable to the cytotoxic effects of anticancer medication thus the telltale baldness.

7 Some Unnecessary Hair Facts

Some numbers freak with a bit of time on their hands and an unusual interest in hair came up with the following average figures on hair length. I thought his/her endeavors may be a more juicy conversation breaker than the weather or could be at least be used to impress and complement a particularly nerdy date if you happen to chance upon one. Better still, if for some reason, you would like to bail out of a spark-less blind date.

  • Longest  26”.
  • shortest :2.5”.
  •  20-26” range: 30%.
  • Percentage in the 10-20” range:40%.
  • 2-10” range: 30%.

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