The trials and tribulations of puberty notwithstanding hair remains, through the following years, something of an indicator of growth, maturity and personality development. It is also responsible for further heartache. Why this is the case is beyond my comprehension. I remember the process but I can’t pretend to understand it.
The Rebel Years
As the agonies of puberty recede new tensions arise. It is time to find a suitable persona, a face to present to the world, a shield to protect the green shoots of self confidence. In this war against fragility hair’s importance should not be underestimated.
Decisions, decisions, long, short, artfully unkempt, or just scruffy and disdainfully ignored; each choice has an impact. One may get you noticed by the right people, another will see you scorned and to dye or not to dye that becomes a question. It is hugely complex. Short and tidy could be viewed as too conformist, still under your mothers’ thumb, not in control of your destiny. On the other hand some others could see you as maturing nicely; preparing for adulthood, readying to take your place as an upstanding citizen. This entire look however does require completion, sharper clothes, adult fashions with a youthful twist but your options are limited by parental limits and school uniform policy.
Allowing your locks to lengthen seems on the face of it an easier option. But this too presents its own unique dilemmas. In the early stages it seems to take an eternity to achieve even a modest growth which only serves to increase your stress. The first effort at long hair may be short lived and the failure sends you back to mother’s friendly barber. The mutterings of maiden aunts only add to your spirit of nonconformity hardening your determination but are you just conforming to another stereotype?
You are also confronted by a bewildering array of products, gels and sprays, shampoos and conditioners and the realisation that the man with the scissors and the pneumatic chair is no longer sufficient to your needs. Your mother will try to hang on to this last bastion of parental influence for as long as possible, but your insistence on an electric razor for your birthday brings all argument to an end. With a plaintiff sigh she will acquiesce but inwardly she will bemoan the loss of innocence, her little boy is growing up. In a fog of indecision you realise you are not free yet.
The facial hair in particular is problematic. At first there is the fear that any beard may be thin and patchy, not strong enough to display your new found masculinity. Time is also a factor, it could take a long time and the intervening weeks will leave you open to the ridicule of your peers so you wait, continuing to scrape away at your face. Gifts of aftershave fill the shelves, unwanted, unloved and unused.
School comes to an end and in the long summer before college or university your hair lengthens and you pluck up the courage to grow a beard. Arriving at your chosen place of further education however the realisation that others are indulging in the same is of little comfort. Theirs’ look better, the beard is thicker and the hair longer and shaggier but you feel stuck. The last thing you want is to join the ranks of the clean cut nerds but the fear is that you are not ready to join the bohemians.
However on closer examination your fellow freshmen are equally unsure. The number of the bearded and the non is fairly evenly split and the quality of the facial growth is variable. You are reassured and with little effort abandon the razor for a pair of not so sharp scissors and isolated visits to the barber to maintain the beards’ shape. You will find that at this stage like heads tend to stick together and your level of hairiness, whether you realise it or not, has a strong influence on the availability and choice of your friends both male and female.
However the heady hairy days of studentship however are all too soon over and the career path you end on will have a profound effect on your head. In part three we will track career path of you and your hair, the horrors to come and strategies for survival.
End of part 2