Dec 27, 2015

A Striking Beard: circa 1540-46

"This plaque of Limoges painted enamel on copper bears a portrait of Jacques de Genouillac, known as Galiot, Seigneur d'Assier (1465-1546) as an old man. The plaque was painted by Leonard Limosin (ca.1505-1575/7) whose work was, and still is highly valued for its originality, diverse subject matter, artistic merit and technical skill." ~ Via the Victoria & Albert Museum

Dec 18, 2015

May The Force of Hair Be With You

When Facial Hair Gets Political

“Any boy can become president — unless he’s got a mustache.” ~ Thomas A. Dewey

Yesterday The New York Times posted an article about how the new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan growing a beard has caused a stir.

The power of hair as a vehicle to assert oneself in the world and to convoy unspoken values of any given age is undeniable. But who holds the answers to unlock these hidden hirsute rules? According to Tammy Haddad, a Washington media consultant and former political director of MSNBC, even though Mr. Ryan’s job “is the center of the entire political system, the beard shows that he’s not of Washington, he’s not part of the system.”

Did the beard always hold such outsider status? Perhaps not, but sporting facial hair was often seen as a political act. Beards among clergy were once serious, symbolic matters that at various times Church leaders either required or banned! And let us not forget that even clergy were not immune to the whims of fashion in their day.

Beards were fraught with shifting meaning in lay culture as well, as this 2013 article from The Atlantic points out. Considering a beard? It might serve you well to know your history.

"A Barber's Shop at Richmond, Virginia," from The Illustrated London News, March 9, 1861

 An 1853 Punch magazine sketch satirizes the "beard movement," an old lady is approached by helpful railway guards and
"concludes she is attacked by Brigands."

Dec 12, 2015

Build Your Own Wig

The Victorian & Albert Museum has produced a fun, interactive site that allows you to build an 18th-century wig, complete with bows, flowers, and a ship. Make your own today!

Dec 4, 2015

Holiday Hair

'Tis the season.....

Hara Kiri: Using Hair to be Satiric & Offensive

The 1960s satiric French magazine Hara Kiri is known for its outrageous covers, sporting the subtitle, "Journal b├¬te et m├ęchant" ("Stupid and vicious magazine").  As a predecessor to Charlie Hebdo -- published by humorist Georges Bernier, author Fran├žois Cavanna, and artistic director Fred Aristid├Ęs --  a number of the cover images, as one might imagine, portrayed hair as grotesque, repugnant, or distasteful.

 "The mode for summer has hair on the beach" - July 1974

  "Is the hair obscene?" - March 1972

  "What, aren't you gagging? Ben, and that, then?" - March 1989

Nov 29, 2015

Chuy, The Wolf Man - A Documentary

Tomorrow, Monday, November 30th at 8pm, the Morbid Anatomy Museum is screening the documentary Chuy, The Wolf Man, a story about the life of Jesus 'Chuy' Aceves and his family, all of whom suffer from congenital hypertrichosis, or excessive face and body hair.

"No-one's really sure what causes hypertrichosis, or how to cure it. What they do know is that there are about 50 documented cases in human history and it was my fate to be one of them," says Aceves. "We are the hairiest family of our species."

The earliest recorded case of hypertrichosis is Petrus Gonsalvus who was born in 1537 in Tenerife. He was exhibited at royal courts in Europe with his children who also had hypertrichosis.

Jesus and his family suffer discrimination in all areas of their lives: the children are made fun of at school and abandoned by their 'non-hairy' parents, and the adults cannot find work unless they choose to exhibit themselves as freaks in circuses. This documentary examines the family's day-to-day lives and their struggle to find love, acceptance and employment.

You can read more about the struggles of Jesus and his extended family in this recent BBC article.
Here's a trailer of this moving documentary:

Apr 29, 2015

Hair: This Day in History

hair still

Today in 1968, the musical Hair premiered on Broadway and
came to symbolize the counter cultural movement.

She asks me why
I'm just a hairy guy
I'm hairy noon and night
Hair that's a fright
I'm hairy high and low
Don't ask me why
Don't know

But the hippies knew why they grew their hair. It was not only a symbol of rebellion, but a marker of political and cultural allegiance as well as a rejection of restrictive gender norms.

Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

Let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for bees
A nest for birds
There ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my...

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Oh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair's too short

Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
It stops by itself

They'll be ga ga at the go go
When they see me in my toga
My toga made of blond
Biblical hair
But let us now enjoy the abundance of wonderful poster illustrations of H-A-I-R!

hair poster 1hair poster 2

hair poster 3 hair poster 4

hair poster 5