Thursday, April 03, 2008

Second virginity

Today's trip to the library has been productive, except for the part where I was told, at Circulation, that the books I'd put on hold were available... and they were books I'd requested months ago, when I was working on a different topic. Alas. But also productive: I saw a woman, not a teenager, with my hair color, but with some amazing pink streaks in her bangs. It reminded me that this is one of the rare moments since I was 10 or 11 that I have had my natural hair color. And while most I've surveyed agree that dark brown is the color I should stick with, new hair colors are so much fun, so the urge to put in maybe a little pink or blue, or to dye it all bright red (which, by the way, is a huge pain to grow out) is with me still.

There's a running theme at Jezebel about how 'young people today' are going in for beauty procedures younger and younger. Toddlers getting liposuction! Fetal rhinoplasty! And so forth. So I was not surprised to see that Jezebel has condemned underage highlights, a trend captured by the avant-garde NYT Thursday Styles.

Am I missing something? Why are we horrified about hairdye for preteens? Is it because of the cost? Jennifer at Jezebel is disgusted by the willingness of mothers to pay the unthinkable sum of $45 for their daughters to put a streak here or there. Having been to Gap Kids relatively recently (ahem, what with being 5'2") I'd have to say, parents are spending far more than $45 on things their kids will find far less exciting. Inflation and whatnot. Is it because hair that hasn't been dyed is called 'virgin hair,' and we're making an overly literal connection? There's clearly a moral dimension here, but one I'm not able to comprehend.

For the record, I would let my (very much theoretical) 10-year-old dye her--or his--hair. There is no such thing as "permanent" hairdye, it all either fades or grows out, so there's always a second 'virginity' around the corner. The only danger I can see is that if you let your kid go the DIY route, you'll find yourself with a lot more green or pink towels than you'd bargained for.


Miss Self-Important said...

I think the opposition is to young girls getting sophisticated, adult hair treatment, much like the opposition that many people have to allowing pre-teen girls to wear make-up or to the culture of children's beauty pageants because these turn girls into sex objects. Unfortunately, the examples given here are of girls getting decidedly unsophisticated hair styles ("punky"), so the message is unclear.

I also want "punky" hair. But I want more to keep my job.

Phoebe said...

It seems clear enough that even when the hairdye 10-year-olds demand might seem "sexy" on someone older (not the case in the article, as you note), the motivation (and likely effect) is to look different and mildly rebellious. Beauty pageants are another story, because there the goal really is turning a fetus into Marilyn Monroe.

Agreed. For the sake of not looking younger than my students, pink or blue hair is probably out of the question.

Anonymous said...

Well, the folks at Disney, cognizant of the desire of young teens to replicate their favorite persona's of Hannah Montana and Company, are launching a line of real hair xtensions at the end of the month, produced by Georgie, a Brooklyn-based company, that will obviate the need for parents to resort to hair processing and continuous touch-up visits at the salon. Moms such as Ms. Polanosky can now be true to their scruples and have their daughters enjoy their "unprocessed" hair moment in the sun.

Ruth Folger Weiss

Ad Lib Unlimited, New York

Dr. Psycho said...

That's so annoying. Dying you hair has got to be one of the safest and cheapest ways to express yourself through your appearance. I'd much sooner want a kid of mine to get a dye job (or a weird haircut) than a piercing or a tattoo.

I went to high school in a conservative town in Oregon in the 1970s, where the only unnatural hair color I ever saw was the occasional streak of green or purple worn by one of the teachers, who'd been doing it since the 1950s, so I don't think of a streak of color as making a teacher look younger than her students.

FLG said...

A cautionary tale:

Phoebe said...

She didn't do the pre-dyeing skin-allergy test. And suffered the consequences. Ick.