Eight Haircuts (“Male”).
If you are a human with a functioning scalp, you most likely engage in some activity to preserve and style the strands of dead protein that hang off the top of your head. Though the shaping and sculpting of hair can serve many practical purposes (shielding the eyes during inclement weather or while welding; creating a large cranial fin or sail to better accumulate solar radiation; lowering one’s radar profile), follicular manipulation is primarily semiotic, a means of non-verbal communication between and among various individuals, groups and contexts signifying allegiance, status, and general aesthetic temperament. Whatever its motive, human hair modification provides unique insight into both individuals and the cultures which they inhabit. In an effort to both document and analyze the signs and signifiers of a universal human endeavor, we provide this selection of observed hairstyles, with accepted nomenclature.
This article does not address the overarching cultural factors and systems that delimit the development of hairstyles, instead focusing on eight traditional, internationally recognized hairstyles seen in the wild since 1950. Though the examples in this study are codified as male, some qualifications should be made:
- The male codification reveals assumptions on the part of the inherent and extant system of behavioral codes and mores in which the hairstyles developed and should not be considered universal or applicable to other systems.
- As the physical characteristics of human hair (both female and male) are in general identical and in specific vary according to specimen regardless of sex, there is no biological impediment to the application of these hairstyles on any non-male person.
- The application of any of these hairstyles to a head of the female sex should not (in and of itself) cause any physical disturbance to the test subject. In fact, considerable anecdotal evidence exists that some of the styles seen below have already been adopted by females, at least in slightly modified form. As with any experiment regarding follicular modification, test subjects should give consent before any hair is cut.
Finally, this collection should not be viewed as an exhaustive or complete list of “male” haircuts. “Male” hairstyling, with its many variables and potential expressions, could not possibly be documented in full by a mere eight examples. The total number of possible “male” haircuts is fourteen. (The remaining six styles will be documented in a later article.)
- The “Sur la Table” is more commonly known in the United States as a “flat-top”, but due to French’s status as the “language of haircuts (and love)”, this article refers to the style by its more cosmopolitan name.
- The curled-over appendages at the front of the hairline seen on the “Sur la Table avec Nappe” are styled with pomade and are known by many regional names, including “curls”, “fenders”, “droops”, “drapes”, “cowcatchers”, “snowplows”, “penitents” and “the crunge”.
- The “Quiet Neighbor” is most often observed in police lineup photos, shortly after the contents of the subject’s crawlspace have been revealed.
- Wearers of the “Ferret” hairstyle show a high incidence of a peculiar genetic condition that allows two distinct types of hair to grow from the same follicle: one that could be described as typical human hair (a long shaft of layers of keratin); and another similar in structure, but laced with thin strands of calcium and nerve endings. Hair of the second type proved responsive to electromagnetic radiation, and individuals who exhibited the second hair type could sense or “feel” radio and microwave pulses directed toward their scalps. The two types of hair could grow alternately or in tandem. What benefit (if any) this second type of hair could provide is a subject of continuing research.
- Despite the implication of the name, the most popular haircut among European Bankers is the “Ding an Sich”. The “European Banker” does enjoy a significant minority position (27% versus the “Ding an Sich’s” 38%), but has never been the hairstyle leader in the titular demographic, except for a brief period in 1962 (May through August).
- Among wearers of the “Ding an Sich” style, an overwhelming majority (94%) self-describe as “Kantian”. When asked if their philosophical beliefs informed their choice of hairstyle, two percent said “yes”; nine percent said “no”; eleven percent said “yes, but only in determining my brand of pomade”; and seventy-eight percent said “I’m sorry, I thought you asked if I was terribly rich. Because I am.”
- The origin of the “Malted” is still a mystery, but some researchers have discovered intriguing anecdotal evidence that early versions of the hairstyle were “finished” with the application of copious amounts of malt extract, a dark viscous fluid derived from malted barley and used in the making of beer. What purpose the malt extract would have served – visually or otherwise – remains unknown.
- The “No. 6” is the hairstyle known by the most names. In fact, as of the publication of this article, every individual interviewed regarding the hairstyle has provided a unique epithet, resulting in no truly definitive common name for “close cropped hair, less than a quarter-inch in length on all sides of the scalp.” (“No. 6” and “Poor Man’s Shampoo” were chosen at random.) Further, in follow-up interviews, interviewees used different names every time the haircut was mentioned, as seen in the transcript below:
INTERVIEWER (points at picture of male with “No.6” hairstyle): Please identify this hairstyle.
INTERVIEWEE: A buzzcut.
INTERVIEWER (confirming response): So this is a buzzcut.
INTERVIEWEE: Yes, a crewcut.
INTERVIEWER: A crewcut?
INTERVIEWEE: That’s what I said, a butch.
INTERVIEWER: A butch?
INTERVIEWEE: Yeah, an Army Standard.
INTERVIEWER: Now it’s an Army Standard.
INTERVIEWEE: What do you mean now? I’ve been telling you, that’s a crop.
INTERVIEWER (scratching out original answer): I’ll change your answer then.
INTERVIEWEE: Don’t you change anything, I told you that guy’s haircut is a Number One.
INTERVIEWER: You’re being very difficult.
INTERVIEWEE: No, you’re not [expletive deleted] listening to me. I told you six times, that guy’s got a Roscoe. Now you write down “Short ‘n Tidy” on that [expletive deleted] paper of yours or I’m gonna punch you in the [expletive deleted] face so hard you’re gonna end up with a Mega-tonsure of your own, you son of a [expletive deleted] –
This pattern repeated in every interview, with each survey culminating in violence. Once the interview ceased, the subjects calmed and showed no hostility toward their interviewers. Until they were shown or played a transcript of the conversation, the interviewees were oblivious they had used different terminology in reference to the hairstyle, and when asked which one word they thought they were repeating during the interview, no subject could provide a particular name. The interviewees also displayed confusion over their anger during the interview, and had no memory of becoming enraged. The highly specific word-blindness and atypical mood swings are being investigated as part of a separate project.