Women and their hair

“Often times you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet.’ When you’re starting to exercise, you look for reasons not to, and sometimes the hair is one of those reasons.” ~ Dr. Regina Benjamin, 18th Surgeon General of the United States

I’ve recently learned that many people–mostly women–are deeply concerned about the appearance of their hair. Being generally ignorant of cosmetology, I decided to do some research.

According to the author Scott Adams in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, there are three reasons why people–mostly women–are so concerned with their hair’s appearance:

“I’m going to start with the assumption that there are three main reasons women want great-looking hair: (1) to attract sexual partners, (2) to improve career potential, and (3) to feel good about themselves. Everyone is different, but those three causes probably cover 85 percent of the reasons.

The first two reasons (sexual partners and career options) are about influencing how others view you. And I would argue that feeling good about yourself has meaning only because you know you are influencing others to feel the same way. So really, hair care is about influencing how other people feel about you. We’re all social animals, so there’s nothing wrong with that. The world works only when we care how other people think.” (p. 213).

Wow! I had no idea that hair was practically the meaning of life! And here I was thinking hair was only some evolutionary mechanism to keep us warm protected from ultraviolet radiation. I used to think that paying over $100 for a haircut was absurd, but now it all makes sense.

It makes sense to pay upwards of $400/year for haircuts and product given that your appearance is absolutely vital. It’s worth it, even though if you invested that money in the stock market you’d have almost $6,000 after ten years. It’s worth it, even considering the amount of time you lose washing your hair, conditioning it, drying it, combing it, straightening it, curling it, braiding it, and fussing with it. It’s worth it, even though that time, valued at an hourly minimum wage, would quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s worth it, because after all, your life depends on it.

. . . apologies for my sarcastic rant, but let me say this: I hardly notice how much effort a person puts into his or her hair. I hardly care what new haircuts look like. I often don’t even notice them.

Adams expresses the rest of my sentiments:

“On the topic of women’s hair I can speak only from a heterosexual man’s perspective. I encourage you to check with the men in your life for confirmation. My best guess is that what I say next is as near a universal opinion as men can have:

We Prefer You Healthy

I’ve never known a man who would prefer an unhealthy-looking woman with movie-star hair over a fit woman with a ponytail. And if I ever do meet that guy, I’ll try to avoid him because he sounds like a creep.

A hiring manager will always have a subconscious bias for the healthier-looking applicant, male or female. Humans evolved to have favorable opinions about anyone who looks healthy because it’s a marker for good reproductive odds. That’s why society needs laws that limit discrimination against the differently abled. If your main reason for spending time on your hair is to feel good about yourself, a healthy body will always trump a good hairdo.

I won’t pretend to understand the minds of women when it comes to hair. And every woman is different. Some women are three different people before lunchtime. But I can tell you with certainty that men prefer you to be in good health, even if it means we miss the best of your hair potential.” (p. 214).

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