Why do we laugh at men in ponytails? No, hang on…lets get one thing straight. It’s not a ponytail, it’s a male-tail! It’s not like it’s something new or unusual. All through history men have worn their hair long. For example, in the second half of the 18th century, most men in Europe wore their hair long and tied back into what we would now describe as a ponytail…dammit, I mean male-tail.
The truth is, ALL MEN HAVE LONG HAIR. That’s a fact. Even the “bald” ones have some hair that, if left un-shaved, would grow long and lustrous. It’s just that most men decide to keep it short. Why? All women have long hair too, and yet they are allowed to have ponytails, pixie cuts, bobs and everything inbetween. Long-haired men, however, are looked on with suspicion or flat out ridicule. Why the gender inconsistency?
OK, there were a lot of awful permed-mullets in the 1980s, and the male long-hairs of the late 60s and early 70s are probably best left forgotten. And then there were the short, tight, corporate (wankers) male-tails of the 1990s. Alright, lets face it. During the second half of the 20th Century, most men with long hair looked awful. They were either over-styled and full of product, or badly cut and unwashed.
Despite all this, I like my male-tail. I’ve had short hair from time to time, and I look perfectly OK with short hair, but I never feel right. It just isn’t “me”. I feel like an impostor with short hair. I don’t have long hair to look “cool” or to be “arty” or “elitist”. I don’t have a male-tail because “I’m in touch with my feminine side” or because I eat macro-biotic tofu. I look the way I do because that’s how I like to look. It’s me. I should be able to be myself without being the subject of ridicule or discrimination.
Think about it. Like everyone else in our society, I like to see people like me represented in all aspects of life, but when was the last time you saw a man with long hair in federal parliament? And how many men with long hair do you see on TV? (Outside of shows on the Lifestyle Channel I mean.) Long-haired men are even discriminated against in some jobs, such as the armed forces or emergency services where, unlike their female colleagues who are allowed to wear their hair long (with some restrictions), a strict short-back-and-sides hair code is enforced. I think that’s really unfair.
So what can we do about this? How can we make it more acceptable in our society for men to wear their hair long? Maybe all it needs is some support and education from the women in our lives. Maybe the next time the man in your life confesses a desire to wear his hair long, you should support him. Teach him how to wash and care for his mane. Take time to help him find the best cut for his male-tail, and how to wear it. Maybe then we’d start to see more magnificent examples of long and lustrous male hair in our society. (And let me say here that I’m not trying to pass myself off as an expert. My own adventure with long-hair is still a journey of exploration and self-discovery.)
Yes, ladies and gentleman, I have a dream. I have a dream where one day the Zoe Fosters of this world will give out hair advice to men and women in equal measure. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of the creed that all hair-styles are created equal. I have a dream that one day, on the red dust of the outback, men of all hair-persuasions – the long, the short, the bald, the trimmed, the permed, the coloured and the gelled – will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day our children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the length of their hair but by the content of their character!! …err… I seemed to have got somewhat carried away…
OK, so I guess what I’m saying is let’s be tolerant of guys with long hair. We should nurture them for their individuality and encourage them to wear their hair with pride and confidence. Let’s teach our kids not to judge a man by the length of his hair, and also encourage our kids – boys and girls – to not be afraid of experimenting with their hair. Our hair is as much a part of our self-expression as the clothes we wear. Let’s give the men in our lives the same freedom of choice in hair-styles that we allow women.
Is that too much to ask?
John James has written 203 posts.
JJ is a blogger who is bored with traditional opinion blogging. He is a co-founder and editor at KiKi & Tea. He also represents the grumpy middle-aged man demographic on KiKi & Tea. He is a writer by trade and a frustrated rock star / crime fighter by night, and blogs about music at newmusicrevue.com.
Follow on twitter: @JohnJamesOZ