How hair styles create false stereotypes
Hair styles hold significant importance to people for various reasons. It can be an important aspect of self-expression whereby a person can express their personality, creativity and individuality through different styles. Styled hairdos can significantly impact an individual’s confidence and self-esteem. Feeling good about one’s appearance, including their hair style, can boost self-confidence, enhance body image and create a positive self-love.
Socially, hair styles can hold social significance and act as a form of non-verbal communication. Certain hair styles can be associated with specific subcultures, groups or movements; allowing individuals to identify and connect with like-minded individuals. Hair styles can serve as a means of signaling affiliation, belonging or shared values within a community.
However, there are some people who style their hairs in certain dos that often invite certain stereotypes against them. In Kenya, there are several hairdos, albeit popular, are among the most mocked and categorized by the larger society. Nairobi News samples some of them below:
- Finger twists on hair shaved in fades – Many men and women often spot this hairstyle, and it isn’t always professionally done. It is as simple as someone using their fingers to constantly twist their short hair into small twists in a haphazard manner. This hairstyle often comes out disheveled and unlevelled because of the fade style shaved on the sides and towards the back of the head. The stereotype often associated with men who do their hair in this style is that they are either lowkey thugs, live in urban slums or are players who use and dump women. They are also believed to be informal employees compared to their formal counterparts.
- Dreadlocks – People with this hairstyles are often stereotyped as dirty people because they do not need to constantly wash their hair. For some people, this hairstyle is like a beacon for them to also be stereotyped as thugs if their hair is unkempt and their looks are also rugged.
- Wigs – Women who wear wigs are often stereotyped to be cheap and dirty. This is because they would rather plait their hair in con rows and then constantly put on wigs with questionable washing cycles. For some, these wigs smell oily, sweaty and dirty- hence the stereotype on who the wearer is as a person.
- Dyed hair – Especially the blond color on short shaven hair with fades to the sides. People who spot this hairstyle are often stereotyped as people from low income households, are people who enjoy raves and drinking; and generally have a don’t care attitude,
- Multi coloured braids on one head – People who spot over five colors of braids in one do are often considered childish (because people think kids with multicolored hair shouldn’t be judged and are cute) are informal employees because no formal employer would accept such hairstyles in the office, some could be jobless or college students with no set direction in life; and are not really ‘serious’ with life based on their decision making.
However, to each their own and choosing such a hairstyle could be based on an important decision they made in their lives. While stereotypes are often negative, some people manage to beat these stereotypes and live better than expected lives apart from what society expects.