What Does Our Hair Say About Us?

Throughout history, women have been put into various roles and fulfilled the responsibilities given to them according to the conditions of the period. Among these responsibilities, the concept of beauty is at the forefront. The media, fashion and new trends that are suitable for the concept of beauty have dictated women to comply with a certain standard. If we give the concept of beauty, which has changed throughout history, for example, the concept of “overweight” woman is beautiful in ancient times has left its place to the concept of “fishy flesh” and then to the concept of “zero body”. According to research, the main reason for the pressure on women through the discourse of beauty and fashion is economic. In this way, the world of cosmetics has developed. Today, the modern economy depends on the definition of women in the myth of beauty. (Wolf,1991) Diet, cosmetic and aesthetic surgery interventions, which are considered among the powerful industries, owes their sustainability to the discourses of beauty and fashion, in short, to the women that they have determined as their target audience. There are expressions that keep the body under control for the continuity of health, beauty and fashion consumption. The effective role here is body images. Body image is the mental picture of one’s own body image. In addition to being multidimensional and subjective, it would be more accurate to say that body image is the mental schema of all the feelings, thoughts and perceptions of the individual’s body. Individuals with a positive body image have positive self-esteem, have high self-confidence, feel more comfortable in social life, and make positive judgments. Individuals with negative body image, on the other hand, have low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and therefore have high anxiety. Self-esteem defines how we see ourselves, how we think about ourselves, and how much we value ourselves. This includes the individual’s self-respect, self-confidence, self-acceptance, self-approval and value. (Yörükoğlu, 1990).

There are various components that make up body image. These components are; perceptions (how a person visualizes their body size in their mind), attitudes (how their thoughts about their body, both cognitively and emotionally, fit the ideal of beauty) and behaviors (eating in moderation, overeating, extreme sports and dieting, wearing make-up, hair care) are listed as (Botta, 1999). The discourses of beauty have revealed the ideal body image. The characteristics of this ideal body are defined through certain keywords and concepts in the media. For example, being thin, muscular and physical fitness are equated with being young and looking beautiful, and an aging body and unsightly wrinkled skin become a source of anxiety for the person (Özbolat, 2011). Being fat, looking neglected or getting old are presented as situations to be avoided. Individuals turn to compensatory behaviors in order to eliminate this. The most important of these is hair care. At this point, the media comes into play again. The media is a tool that spreads not only the ideal body, but also what needs to be done and methods to reach these ideals. Therefore, the individual who compares himself with the ideal body in the media learns from the media about the efforts he will make to reach that ideal body as a result of this comparison. (Warren and Rios,2013)

The media is a powerful source of today’s ideal of beauty. Newspapers, magazines, radio, television, articles in the media, advertisements, visuals reveal ideal and required body goals and create a demand on women, who are the target audience. The clothes consumed in these channels, the concepts of beauty and aesthetics are revealed. It creates an image like bad that is not fashionable. An ideal and sometimes surreal image is presented and women are shown that they have flaws that they need to cover up. And it gives the image that they can exist in society only when they are owned. In fact, they are trying to become acceptable to the society with their new identities created through the media. They give the image of “ideal woman”, in fact, they give messages to women that they are inadequate and that they can be better. If we consider the cosmetic part through various industries, solutions are offered to women. With the constant change in fashion, dissatisfaction and deficiency are fixed with the formation of new needs. Women get into this consumption cycle by creating a lack of self-confidence due to the anxiety of being aesthetic and perfect in women. So much so that this “ideal woman” image presented has been normalized among the society, small groups and individuals, and has started to appear as a general necessity.

As a result of how the discourses of beauty are perceived, the value they attribute to consumption to the industry, and the emotional and physical effects of all these, it is seen that women resort to various ways. According to some, hair care is a necessity, for some it is a tool that provides self-confidence, for some it is a necessity, an action that must be done for business and social life. According to some approaches, Hair is an expression of personality and an indicator of socially desirable and undesirable traits. Through their hair, women want to give messages to individuals about their body image, their moods, and their characters. Well-groomed and healthy hair is an important factor that makes a person feel good and self-confident. Well-groomed or neglected hair can give clues on personality development, lifestyle and motivation. Through their hair, women want to send a message to people about how they want to look. What characteristics are important here also varies from culture to culture.

Determining and standardizing the personality with criteria such as hairstyle, cutting or shaping-coloring and making an assessment in this way is a continuation of the social pressure on women, and the information given over this is not healthy. Contrary to popular belief, defining personality is a complex and difficult process. It is a subject that needs to be evaluated more delicately, fed by the geography of the person, his own life story, genetic heritage, family history, subjective experiences, sociocultural and socioeconomic status. However, whether a woman has short or long hair, permed, curly or straight hair, her hair is thin or thick, yellow, black, brown or purple, pink is accepted by everyone directly and directly about the personality, although it does not give precise and clear information about the person’s life. can give us clues about his style, expectations, wishes and desires.

Emotional fluctuations seen in some mood disorders can cause differences in the person’s appearance. A person in a depressed mood feels depressed, depressed, unhappy and lost interest in everything and has difficulty in doing the activities they need to do daily, and these people have problems in performing their self-care skills (bathing, combing hair, dressing, putting on makeup). Therefore, these people’s hair is not well-groomed, and their body image; The images of their bodies (perceptions, attitudes, behaviors) in their minds are negative and they do not make an effort to change it.

Anxious and especially perfectionist individuals are very concerned with how they appear from the outside. Since they can easily get the feeling of inadequacy, criticisms, facial expressions, looks and behaviors that may come from outside may cause negative body images of people. In order to cope with their anxiety, they strive to make their appearance perfect and flawless. They do not neglect the care of their hair, they do not go out without going to the hairdresser. They often make changes about the hairstyle and color and thus try to get a more remarkable image.

When we evaluate in terms of Personality Disorders; If we consider the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the main characteristic of these people is grandiosity in behavior or fantasy, the need to be admired. Narcissists are often thought to be people who love themselves too much and who are overconfident. However, the real situation is exactly the opposite. Since the narcissist cannot love and respect himself, he constantly needs to do something to be able to love and respect himself. They feel that they are very important. They ponder fantasies of unlimited success, power, intelligence, beauty, or perfect love. They want to be admired. For this reason, these individuals devote a lot of time to their appearance, as they care about their beauty and need external appreciation. The easiest way and because they can create change in a short time, they are in a certain preoccupation with their hair. They do not go out with an unkempt and a hairstyle that the outsider will not like. They care about hair care. They often follow new fashions and trends. While long hair was preferred in traditional and ancient times, short hair became more preferred in modern times. It is thought that the short hair length makes people look fresher and younger. Narcissists, on the other hand, prefer to attract the attention of the outside by choosing colors that are different from yellow or a classic color as their hair color. They desire to be liked by people by choosing an assertive, different and well-groomed hairstyle.

The main feature of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is an excessive preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, mental and interpersonal control. For this reason, they ponder on the perfection we see in the pattern of anxious individuals. they do not neglect their hair care, they do not go out with a hair that is unkempt and does not look nice. They mess with their hair for long hours.

The main feature of histrionic personality disorder is that these people are excessively emotional and seek attention in almost every field. They become uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention. They always want to draw attention to themselves. Since they cannot tolerate indifference, they use every means to attract attention. They constantly use their physical appearance to attract attention, which is one of the easiest ways to attract attention and get others to take care of them. They wear colorful, eye-catching, revealing clothes with decollete or slits. They always take care to be well-groomed, always have their hair done, wear big bright accessories, and make colorful eye-catching make-ups. They spend a significant part of the day dealing with their physical appearance and care. Since hair is the easiest way to show themselves as different and interesting people, they prefer different colors that are not preferred by everyone and dye their hair. These colors can be all colors (pink, purple, orange) that the society finds different and assertive.

The main features of borderline personality disorder are inconsistencies in interpersonal relationships, sense of identity and affect, and difficulty controlling themselves. It is 3 times more common in women than men. There is a markedly and persistently inconsistent sense of self or self that is defined as identity confusion. Their feelings and thoughts about who they are, what they like, what they care about, their plans for the future, what kind of people they want to be friends with, how they want to live, change frequently and easily. In a very short time, they may have opposing desires, desires, beliefs and thoughts. They show impulsivity (eg, spending money, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating) in at least two areas that are most likely to self-harm. They show uncontrolled and impulsive behaviors in various areas such as driving fast, shopping randomly and having difficulty paying, engaging in random, risky sexual relationships, not being able to control eating or drinking, gambling, using alcohol or drugs.

Depending on the change of emotional states; they also reflect these changes on their body images. If they feel unhappy, they may cut their hair without considering it as a harmful behavior. They dye their hair a very different color and when they wake up the next day, they are not satisfied with the color and regret it. Then they may want to convert it back to its old image. Because they are on the border, they can project an image that is not accepted by the society on their bodies, especially on their hair. They may prefer marginal colors. They can use assertive hair colors (purple, orange, pink) just like histrionics. They can use different shapes in their hair and go to unsuitable environments.

I mentioned that when an individual experiences emotional fluctuations, it causes differences in their appearance. During the change and psychological transition processes, not only the hair changes, but sometimes aesthetic interventions, onyomania (shopping addiction), exercise addiction, substance and alcohol addiction can also occur. It is a way of change that is the most innocent in terms of giving. Especially women often resort to this as a way of coping when they experience psychological problems. A woman who has just ended her relationship or feels depressed for any reason can easily go to the hairdresser to change her hair. She might get a haircut, dye it, or do some compensatory behavior to feel better by playing with her shape. With the new fashion trends, people can choose the trendy hair colors, shape and height model. Today, it is stated that short hair length makes women feel younger and fresher, and it is seen that natural hair colors and natural hairstyles are preferred more. The hair that does not look like a structured hair and has an unkempt appearance has become widespread. This model, which has been preferred in Europe for many years, has just arrived in Turkey. Thus, the effect of the ideal woman image and the psychological pressure it creates are tried to be reduced. In addition to the preference of women who find their hair very structured disturbing, women who think that the chemicals in the dye can damage their hair roots and hair, also put natural hair fashion into their daily lives. In addition, there is a significant increase in the level of self-confidence, as the person reveals this with small touches without changing himself too much.

In this way, women keep up with the times and show their hair better without intervening too much. Since this is noticed in the society, approaches that support women’s self-confidence and activities that enable them to love themselves as they are, first ensure that the individual reconciles with himself, and their self-confidence and self-esteem are increased, reducing the anxiety of the people and a better feeling. Instead of loving themselves for their outward appearance, they begin to love themselves for what they are. Seeing hair and others only as tools, their expectations are also changing. Because the aim with natural appearance is to make the person see the state of self-liking and love and the hair and make-up they use only as a tool. These emerging approaches aim to remove the social pressure and the “ideal woman” image that emerged with the discourse of beauty. Women who want to get social approval and want to adapt to the demands of the age also have a positive body image in this way, while increasing their self-confidence and self-esteem.

There is no statistical data on the tendency of women to use long hair before marriage, and to cut their hair short during post-marriage or postpartum periods. This may differ from culture to culture. However, when we evaluate it in terms of Turkey, the fact that short hair is easy to use and long hair is more flamboyant and difficult to maintain may be a reason why they prefer it in the postpartum period. Considering that hair is a tool that feeds the desire to be admired, women may get a haircut when they get married, because the opinion that they have met this need may come to mind. But we cannot treat it as universal and immutable knowledge because it leads us to ignore cultural differences. In addition, we see that those who have adopted some musical style in today’s younger generation (such as rock, punk) use short and pixie hairstyles and prefer colors that will cause them to be described as marginal. This affects the hair not only in relation to the change in the marital status of the person, but also in relation to the lifestyle. Since ancient times, hair has played an important role in people’s self-confidence and body image. In the Greek and Roman empires, false hair was a symbol of wealth and prestige. Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile River, was famous for her black, thick and lush hair. The Hebrew legendary hero Samson was a symbol of holiness with his long hair. Political figures and judges also wore fake wigs, a sign of wisdom, spontaneity, and fairness. Hair has not lost its importance, which has been going on since our ancestors from past to present. Since the image of hair is sanctified in this way, when women use short hair or pixie models on a social basis, they are criticized or thought to have psychological distress.

Low self-esteem and perception can also be evaluated as an effort of the fragile ego to express itself more ostentatiously. A person creates himself when he is liked by someone else. Jacques Lacan explains this by “being the desire of the other”. Human desire is the desire of the Other’s desire, human desires to be desired. Psychiatrist Dr Agah Aydın also said, “Everyone has an other that they pose.” He used a similar expression in his sentence. Hair is one of the compensatory behaviors of women in body image for the sake of seeing the best version of themselves in the eyes of another. For this reason, it can also be a source of unhappiness because the meanings attributed to women who have damaged their hair are deep and versatile, damaging their body image.

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