“Hair is the party in top position.”

Sometimes when I watch Bollywood movies I feel like my hair is really short, although it’s down to my waist. The heroines have black silky braids that fall almost to their knees. In one movie, Pakizah, a courtesan-dancer, after an exhausting evening of dancing for clients, loosens her braid into a pool of undoubtedly scented water from which spouts a delicate fountain. She takes out a love note she’d received from a mysterious stranger and reads it over and over again to herself as her hair floats around her like ink in the water.

At the Helen Adam tribute the other night, Lee Ann sang a terrifying & wonderful ballad, “I Love my Love” about a woman with destructive hair. I was reminded of it when cruising around today in Laura Riding Jackson world, and finding this quote from The Word ‘Woman’

Sometimes the hair is more magically attractive if it is fair, sometimes if it is dark. Long golden hair is the sinister attribute of the sirens; but dark hair may be far more sinister in attractive force.

Thus hair, as an attribute of beauty, becomes (indeed beauty itself becomes) the negative complement of power, though originally it was strictly associated with power; or, rather, it remains associated with a kind of power to which only poetical respect is now given. In its softness, silkiness and indefiniteness, it comes to seem as water to land, sleep to waking, dreaming to thought; a symbol of dream-like mystery tempting the male mind from rational activity. Hair is, physiologically, a covering, and properly symbolic of self-concealment–of secrecy or modesty. It is only when woman is construed as the negative complement of man that it assumes, as female head-dress, specifically “feminine” connotations; only when man begins to make invidious contrasts between the physical gentleness of woman and his own physical forthrightness.

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