Sunday, February 1, 2015

The hair industry

As I was reading The Last Triangle blogs, I actually got a little annoyed with at society. I knew society had been shaping people to appear a certain way for all of history, but it felt different to read the facts on the page like that. It felt like proof that I was wronged in some way.
The societal pressures on women are often so much stronger than those felt by men. The theory is that women feel a stronger sense of need for companionship and camaraderie and so they are pushed to follow societal rules for fear of being excluded. Of course men would feel that too, but to a lesser extent. There is less blatant pressure on the way they dress and generally how they appear. Women are targeted by companies for shoes, clothes, perfumes, hygienic products, and their hair more often than men.
The other day, I just had my TV on in the background for a couple of hours. Think of the commercials you see. The amount of products targeted to women is a lot higher than those targeted towards men. For every 7 commercials for shampoo with a female model, there is 1 for men. All promise thicker, more luscious hair but there is a huge discrepancy for the number. (The TV was on on a weekend night so it wasn't daytime television "designed" for women.) I'm sure most of the brands with females in the commercials also carry a line of men's products, but the publicity for those are neglected to focus on female products. Presumably because companies think they have more to gain by targeting females than targeting males.
When it comes to hair not on the scalp, societal guidelines are specific for both genders. Eyebrows must be shaped precisely for women, no unibrows or too bushy for men. Facial hair is cool for men, just as long as it's not too long. But females should have none whatsoever. For men, its OK to have some body hair, but certainly not a lot. For women, hair on the forearms is alright as long as it's minimal, but there should be no body hair anywhere else. And pubic hair should at least be trimmed on both men and women, but it should be completely gone on most women.
There is something so odd to me about how specific this list is. Why would minimal hair on the forearms be alright but there should be no hair at all on the legs? Presumably men touch women's arms more often than they touch legs so why would arm hair not deter them when leg hair would? Another weird standard is eyelash hair. I remember seeing a drug called Latisse (endorsed by Brooke Shields) which supposedly grows eyelash hair. Eyelash hair has very important benefits for eye health and safety, but she's not emphasizing these things in the commercial. There is no mention of the health benefits of longer, fuller eyelashes. Instead, it seems to focus on the beauty of longer lashes. Longer lashes are meant to compliment the eyes, but why is that unimportant in men? How has the hair industry had such a strong influence in our lives?

1 comment:

  1. I would just add here the cost of hair removal and maintenance of hair on a woman's head are disproportionally expensive. Female hair styles are more elaborate and scrutinized. No doubt a male hair cut is inexpensive in contrast.