Hairstyles: a curious medium of outward self-expression

From hairstyle to hair dye, from long hair to short hair, from team haircuts to donating length, there’s more to hair than meets the eye.

“My hair is very long, and I’ve kept it long since I was a little kid,” senior Hannah Brass, known for her long, straight, golden-blonde hair, said. “At first, it was because I wanted to be like Rapunzel, but now it’s because it helps with my confidence. A lot of little kids have complimented my hair, and I like how it makes me feel like a fantasy character.”

Hair can also be used to showcase self-expression as a part of a community. Some examples of this include team haircuts, cultural hairstyles, or common hairstyles within certain affinities.

“I love dyeing my hair, and I find it as a good conversation starter and physical affinity with other people with dyed hair and piercings,” junior Bri Rucker said.

Rucker likes short hair because it’s easy to manage.

For better or for worse, society highly values appearance, and many want to lessen how much they feel judged based on outside appearance.

“I don’t think that my hair defines who I am or [that] I want people to make opinions about me based on my hair, but it’s important to me as I change it to make it fit myself better,” sophomore June Dalton said.

Recently, Dalton has been growing their hair out after keeping it pretty short for the last couple of years.

Although there are many good sides to the story of hair, it’s not all a fairytale. Sometimes, students feel pressure to conform to popular culture, especially regarding appearance, and hair has always played a big part in this. Lately, these pressures have been as exacerbated as ever, with social media trends on the minds of many. Sometimes, race can play a factor in this too.

“Growing up, I’ve always heard people say that black hair is unnatural and unkempt. In the media especially, I’ve been told that it’s not suitable for anywhere but our own homes [or] around our own people unless it’s neatly done or straightened to make other people feel more comfortable or even safe,” freshman Nijah Johnson, who rocks an afro, said.

Senior Milkii Tigro agreed. “How I get treated and how people interact with me is very dependent on what my hairstyle is. No matter what hairstyle I wear, people always feel the need to comment on it. That’s just one part of being a black girl. My hair automatically sticks out from most people because my hair texture is seen as different and unique, especially when I’m in a predominantly white space.”

However, even though the extent to which outside influences play a role in hair as a means of self-expression is surprisingly great, what to do with this outlet for expression is up to the individual. Every day, students must navigate society’s trends, pressures, and influences when approaching how they would like to be seen at and outside school.

“Now that I’m older and know the history of black hair, I wanted [to] go against the societal norms and wear my hair in its most natural form anytime and anywhere I wanted to, despite the ignorance of others. My hair is a part of who I am, and I’m not afraid of showing that,” Johnson said.

Hair is an essential outlet of self-expression for many, but it is only a page in a never-ending story. Like all other means of self-expression, one chooses what to embrace from the world around them and how to mold this to fit themselves.

My hair is a part of who I am, and I’m not afraid of showing that.

— Nijah Johnson

“No one should ever feel bad for just wanting to express themselves the way they want to. Everyone’s got their own kind of style [and] everyone should be able to [do] what they want and not be ashamed of it,” freshman Rowan Moore, who enjoys frequently changing the color of their hair, said.