There was a time – an unfair, enviable time – when the laws of coiffure were strict and steadfast. These laws tucked morality inside the twisted designs and curls, made sure its rules brushed across braids and ribbons – and that they lay across shoulders in glistening commandments.
A young girl was allowed to proclaim her youth with long, undressed hair. Like a forest – unknown, undiscovered, untouched by man – her hair was chaste and uncivilized. She stood outside the tight refinements of adulthood, brandishing her carelessness in a fiery aura. If she wore her hair clipped, curled or sculpted, she would be reaching into years she was not yet prepared for – abusing her unadorned childhood, her Victorian gift.
A woman, however, had earned the right to the petty foolishness and daintiness of a lady’s toilette. Her hair could now be piled into complex patterns, lost and cursive, braided and frizzed – mocking the bare terrain of neck and shoulders. Held up in turrets by pins and combs, troubled by jeweled bands and flowers, it was a declaration of readiness to touch society’s bracing seas.
But when the woman takes back the appearance of a child, she assumes the seductive confusion of mixed warnings. The girl sees with eyes dark with experience and breathes within the boned décolleté of brocade and embroidery. And the woman is warmed by the torrent of hair – as coarse as new silk – that covers her shoulders and arms.
This misplaced femininity was almost immoral – a daring negotiation that wove through the peripheries of age. With such a bewilderment of years the child risked a quick maturity, and the woman became fiercely approachable. It was a betrayal of the laws of nature and society that coiled like DNA to define the child’s behavior and set the boundaries of the woman’s home.