For better or worse, the hair makes the man

Just a few weeks ago, I transformed my normally short and shaggy headgear into a nicely trimmed Mohawk. Oh, and a bushel of a beard.

Why? It was summer. I was bored. I love messing around. I was interested to see people’s reactions, both friends and strangers, and fortunately, my boss doesn’t care what I look like as long as I get my work done.

Oh, and I found my roommates hair clipper set.

So – boom. Mohawk.

And people enjoyed it. Loved it, actually. I received a ton of “That’s so you,” and, regarding the beard, a few “Are you going for the white Mr. T look?” comments. I wasn’t, but I’ll take it as a compliment.

People notice new things. Especially hair, apparently.

Would it be different if I was usually wearing a suit or a pocket protector? After all, I was in the midst of embarking on a summer of all-sleeveless shirts. If the shoe (or hairstyle) fits…

When I met someone out on the town or at a party, it was the first thing they noticed. The morning after one party, my friend called me: “Stephanie texted me last night: ‘Your Mohawked friend is pretty cute.’”

Yesssssss. I’m awesome.

But is it because of the Mohawk? In a way, it embodies awesomeness – or at least the perception of it. Even Microsoft Word knows it and insists on capitalizing “Mohawk,” which adds an entirely new level of badassery to the ‘do. (It doesn’t capitalize mullet. Take that, NASCAR fans.)*

Similarly, Minneapolis-based creative Jake Nyberg grew a mullet out of “total boredom” and decided to turn it into a sociological experiment (I’m a Sociology major, and I’m pretty sure Jake just likes to screw with people to see their reaction). In a story from Boston.com, he laments how he was “ignored at a totally empty J.Crew with four employees.”

On the flip side, would he have received better service at a restaurant in the South? Would Stephanie have found me attractive with my previous hairstyle?

Hairstyles do help define your lifestyle. Whether you rock it as part of your identity, as part of an experiment, or because you got so wasted last night that you let your bro play barbershop on your scalp, your hairstyle is an extension of who you are, what you do, where you’re going and how you want other people to define you.

I don’t doubt that people make assumptions about me based on my Mohawk. Jake experienced the same thing with his mullet.

But they’re our hairstyles. And we rock them well.

*Writer’s note: I know Mohawk is capitalized for the tribe, not the hairstyle, but let me have my moment, okay?

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