politics of men’s hair in chinese history


I just found this image and thought that it was the perfect complement to my last post!



hair in china

In China, maybe more than in any other culture, hair was a symbol of ethnicity and class but also an expression of political alignment.

In ancient times, hair was valued as a symbol of self-respect and cutting off or shaving one’s hair was a severe punishment. Hair also helped to distinguish several ethnic groups so when the Manchu people took sovereignty, one of the first things they did was to order civilians to shave their heads, what therefore became a sign of dissent. 


Hair had a strong political influence: during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) men had to tonsure their heads and in the years of the Republic of China (1912-49) it was forbidden to have pig tails.

During the “cultural revolution” (1966-76) “corrections” were made to women who wore their hair inappropriately. “Capitalist-style” perms disappeared and women cut off their hair very short to show their revolutionary spirit. In his article “Cultural Revolution and Hair”, scholar Gu Nong writes that at that time one braid was seen as feudalistic, two as capitalistic, and shoulder-length hair as purely revisionism.

With the opening-up of China in the late 1970s, hairstyles finally became subject to an individual’s choice and preferences.

feeling is believing: why obama’s hair matters

obamas hair

Today I want to reblog a post from Danielle Fuentes Morgan, as I think that I could not have written it any better. Enjoy!


It’s a question President Obama has undoubtedly been asked before. It’s almost a universal African American experience, except this time it was asked under different circumstances and for a different reason.

“Can I touch your hair?”

The photo of this moment, three-years-old at this point, is making the rounds again. You’ve seen it in your inbox and on social networking sites—President Obama, bent at his waist while a five-year-old African American boy wearing a tie and dress pants touches his hair. It seems innocuous enough—meriting a few awwws certainly—but leaving some to wonder what all the fuss is about. Cute, sure. But is this news? Absolutely.

The New York Times recounts the conversation between Jacob and the president:

“I want to know if my hair is just like yours,” he told Mr. Obama, so quietly that the president asked him to speak again.

Jacob did, and Mr. Obama replied, “Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?” He lowered his head, level with Jacob, who hesitated.

“Touch it, dude!” Mr. Obama said.

As Jacob patted the presidential crown, Mr. Souza snapped.

“So, what do you think?” Mr. Obama asked.

“Yes, it does feel the same,” Jacob said. Continue reading

Kennedy, Nixon, and the confirmation bias

In 1960 an interesting theory was approved by the Kennedy – Nixon debate.

The scientific phenomenon of the confirmation bias suggests that we look for information which confirms our hypothesis, and ignore falsifying information relationship between events that doesn’t exist.

In the example of the Kennedy – Nixon debate this means that people who watched the debate on television were biased by Kennedy’s more appealing appearance and as they wanted him to win they started focusing on his positive points. The radio listeners, in contrast, for the most part considered Nixon to be the winner of the debate.

Even if our inner idealists want to deny the following fact, this case again shows, how important our appearance (with hair being a major part of it) is in making a statement and influencing others.

Does a politician’s hair matter?

The ideologist in us is likely to deny this statement, drawing attention to far more important concerns. However, it isn’t quite that easy. Our looks influences how other people think about us, especially if you are in the public eye. In recent years female politican’s hair-dos have become a subject of public debate and Susan Evans argues that

“how we present ourselves to the world is a distinct form of communication.”

With his or her look a politician has to appeal to its voters. Consequently, Evans concludes thatYulia Tymoshenko’s braided crown is appropriate for her constituency but would not work in the US, where women rather identify with the coifs of Michelle Obama or Hilary Clinton. With the burden of finding the right cut one does not wonder about the spendings of the Senate Hair Care shop anymore…

michelle obama

new hope for “queen” Tymoshenko


Yulia Tymoshenko, known for her trademark blond braid, entered the international stage when leading protests against a presidential election in 2004, known as the orange revolution. In 2011 she was sentenced for 7 years because of a disadvantageous gas deal with Russia, thus criminally exceeding her authority.

According to her the charges of abuse of power are a tissue of lies, however, and the EU supports the view that the jailing was politically motivated.

Due to health problems she already asked the authorities to transfer her to a German hospital in 2011, leading to no result. In April this year the European Court of Human Rights stated that her pre-trail detention was “arbitraty and unlawful

This week, however, President Viktor Yanukovich signaled new hopes for Tymoshenko, saying that he would sign such a legislation if it was passed by parliament. -A move that might be made under pressures from the EU, whose leaders will discuss a possible agreement with Ukraine in November.

Even tough in jail, Tymoshenko embodies the idea of a strong, powerful woman.

Wearing a traditional braid together with a wardrobe that’s conservative yet feminine, traditional yet modern, professional yet soft tells the public that she expects the world to respect her as a leader. -Pia Vivas

hair is legend

Dennis Rodman is a basket ball legend. His hair is as well.


Rodman himself states:

“I was 32 years old before I found out who I really am. From then on I just did it, whatever it was. If not for that I would have been more subdued, just an athlete.”

Meanwhile Dennis Rodman does not only have a fan blog on his hair, he also has his own hymn and even got invited by Kim Jung Un, who usually fears the influence of western hair styles. Whether this should be considered a diplomatic rapprochement you better decide on your own. Rodman at least thinks that the North Korean leader was a “cool guy“.


hair is communist


Whereas many people want to escape from uniformity by having an extraordinary hair style, North Korean citizens now can choose in which way they want to be pigeonholed.

Kim Jung Un published a “menue of sample hair cuts” that are adequate to prevent the bad influence of capitalism. While men can choose from a variety of 10 hair dos, (the dictator’s hair style is not available) women can choose from even 18 different hair styles. Yet, with the following limitation: The younger, the longer the hair might be, wives, however, should have short and practicable hair.

With these restrictions and his resistance to Western hair dos it astonishing, however, that Kim Jung Un invited no other than hair legend Dennis Rodman for a visit to North Korea.


hair cuts // budget cuts


While the Government shutdown lead to closed National Parks, landmarks and museums, more than 800,000 furloughed federal employees and conflicts about budget cuts it seems almost ironic that “since 1997 the Senate Hair Care shop has consistently run deficits of about $340,000 annually, a taxpayer subsidy that is growing rather than shrinking”.

In her article Lynn Hulsley argues that besides generous incomes, health care and pension benefits this is another example of how distant members of Congress are from their constituents.

Although the money-losing hair salon is only a small piece in the budget, Hulsley claims that “it carries symbolic value at a time when members of Congress are targeting defense and domestic programs for $1.2 trillion in across-the-board sequestration cuts over 10 years and also taking aim at entitlement programs serving the elderly and poor.” Instead of being hypocrites, members of Congress should make an example of seriousness and morality by also pointing the finger at themselves.