A Nordic god or a heavy metal legend?
If you are one of those, then we understand - rocking a long hair is a job requirement. We’ll also make an exception for those of us who wear long hair for religious reasons (e.g. Native Americans). If you don’t fall into any of these categories and your mane goes past your shoulders, you must keep reading.
The opinions about men and long hair are as polarizing as Trump politics. In some circles long hair on men is seen as a symbol of power and freedom; in others, however, it makes up a girly look. Rockers have them and so do Native Americans and Greek warriors. Throughout the centuries long hair has been a symbol of power, freedom, good health and non-conformism.
With so many different cultural references and meanings, it’s easy to get confused. We’re here to get the record straights. We look at three modern myths about men with long hair and debunk them one by one.
Before we begin, we want to make one thing clear: we are not categorically for or against men wearing long hair. We believe, however, if you decide to let your mane grow, you have to do it for the right reasons and, more importantly, know how to take care of it.
It’s a Status Symbol of Power and Freedom
This argument usually comes from people with something they are eager to prove. I’ve heard the argument from the local drunk, while cashing out at the liquor store; it’s the same explanation I got from a truck driver I met at a BBQ in Kentucky.
It is true that long hair was a symbol of power and freedom in many ancient cultures. The Vikings believed long hair was a source of power and fertility. God Thor from the Nordic mythology was portrayed with long hair.
The Ancient Greeks were not much different. The warriors depicted in Homer’s Iliad wore long hair as a symbol of freedom. In Ancient Greece, it was the slaves that had their hair cut short.
The tradition in some Native American cultures required men to cut their hair when mourning. Their long hair had spiritual and religious meaning.
The ancient symbolism of long hair has lost its meaning in modern-day Western culture. Even though long haircuts on men are not uncommon, in very few cases are they donned out of some innate urge to express power or freedom. Virtually no one who looks at your waist-long mane will think of you as particularly powerful or free-spirited. Odd or strange? More likely.
Men Don’t Have to Put Too Much Care in their Long Hair
A long hair on a man is not necessarily a bad look. What gives it a bad rep is that most men can’t pull it off. Long hair takes hours of maintenance. This is a fact every woman knows.
To maintain attractive, healthy-looking hair, women spent inordinate number of hours washing, conditioning, blow-drying and straightening. Women’s haircare is a million-dollar industry and for a good reason - it takes a lot of effort to make long hair look great.
The striking difference of how men and women approach haircare is most evident in the drugstore aisle. The section dedicated to hair products formulated for men is usually a corner of a shelf. There, you come across the usual suspects: bottles bragging their content is a three-in-one combo: body wash, shampoo and conditioner that smell of raw nature. You might come across a couple of different brand but, believe me, they are all the same.
Right next to the grey or black bottles (favourite colours for men’s hair products) you can find the Just For Men hair dye. It’s the one with the throwback packaging from the 80’s. In the same area you may find some pomades or hair clay that complete the range of hair products at most drug stores.
This limited selection is no fault of the big cosmetic companies. Since the 1960’s the idea that “real” men don’t spend time and money on their looks has influenced the men’s haircare and grooming industry. If you are in your thirties or older, you probably grew up with the idea that a man needs is a quick shave and a splash of aftershave. Frizzy unruly hair? Bah! All of this pretty boy stuff is for sissies! Real men crash beer cans in their foreheads and march on. It was only since the 2000s that men’s hair and skincare gained popularity.
If for the past several decades the thinking has been that men don’t need care much about their appearance, then not caring for your hair comes as no surprise. The fact that most men keep their hair short hides the damage of miscare. It becomes more evident with long hairdos. Hair damage, baldness and frizziness may plague even men with short hair too but it is a lot less evident if you keep your head fur short. Grow it long and all these problems come to the surface.
So, what do you do? Raid your girlfriend’s bathroom cabinet. Learn about the different hair products, what they do and which ones are right for you. Having a great looking hair is as manly as it gets.
It Makes me Look Younger
If by younger you mean immature, then you are right: long hair does make you look younger.
Generally speaking, a man’s long hair could suggest that he doesn’t work in a corporate environment or an industry where a certain professional look is required. You don’t come across many corporate lawyers, investment bankers or doctors with long hairdos. Even in academia where certain eccentricity is allowed, men with long hair are perceived as a little odd.
So, yes, long hair could suggest youthfulness but this is only the case of a full, vibrant head of hair. Rocking a greasy rat tail behind a bald forehead would quickly put you in the same company as the creepy local pub dwellers.