Story suggested by Lynda Owen Guy Saturday 27 March
The picture of the sheep with the curling horns prompted the question in the title. Animals do have some weird looks. They have little choice.
Human beings however excel when it comes to choosing how they look. Hairdressers and cosmetologists have achieved a highly valued position in society since the beginning.
The fact that hairdressers were the first to be let out of lockdown in Australia during the current plague and are prominent on preferred immigration skill lists in many countries emphasises their importance.
Hair grows and it gets dirty and needs constant attention to avoid discomfort and disapproval. The wealthy employed specially skilled staff to attend to this. It has become a clear expression of class, personality and inclination.
The ancient Assyrians wore elaborate curly hair styles; Egyptian men and women shaved their heads and wore wigs; Greek women dyed their hair; Romans bleached theirs, Japanese women used lacquer to maintain their styling.
Egyptian priests became barbers as it was believed evil spirits entered the body through the tips of the hair. Cutting hair exorcised them. I wonder if this is the original reason why monks shave their heads?
Because the barber was skilled with cutting instruments he was also approached for bloodletting, which was one of the main treatments for most illnesses. Eventually they began treating people generally for all sorts of ailments: medical and dental. They advertised their presence by wrapping bloody bandages around poles.
Haircutting trade was boosted when priests were forbidden to treat sick people and in 1092 by papal decree they were required to be clean shaven.
Hairdressing really grew during Renaissance years with the womens’ bouffant fashion of piling hair on top of the head a la Marie Antoinette. To compete men wore wigs, so hairdressers had to acquire new skills, again.
Eventually the surgical and the barbering developed into separate careers and haircutting suffered as styles simplified.
Then Hollywood reincarnated the hairdresser to maintain and enhance the looks of the stars. New technology and styles like marcelling became the rage.
The most telling suggestion as to the enduring presence and status of the hairdresser is that they were often among the first to hear news. From ancient times all mannner of people, if they were rich summoned a hairdresser daily and if not, attended the hair salon or barber shop frequently… and chatted. So hairdressers know lots of secrets…
So if you are new to town, get your hair done – you will likely get some curly tales as well as a short back and sides .
As a remedy for baldness, chopped lettuce and ground-up hedgehog spines were applied to the scalp. Others tried camel dung and bear grease. None have worked for me, but I don’t really care – I haven’t been to a hairdresser for about 30 years!