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Hair


What is it about hair that we are fixated on it? From Samson to Fabio to Mahsa Amini. Do you remember when Cher’s hair went down to her knees? My mother keeps clips of her babies’ hair with tidy, pretty ribbons. In the Victorian age, a method of mourning and respect was to create an art piece of the dead person’s hair. I do not know why human hair, not on one’s head, revolts me.

Allow me to remind you, reader, I am speaking of hair not attached to the owner revolts me. I can’t stand cleaning my shower filter or brush. I get annoyed when there is a piece of hair between my skin and my t-shirt.

Perhaps we are so concerned about the tops of our heads because our hair is one of the first things we see when we look upon someone, hair conveys where we are from or which tribe we belong to.

  • A brush-cut hairstyle could communicate the person is a soldier. 
  • Red hair could indicate the origins of Scandinavian.
  • Glossy straight dark brown hair could reveal this person is from Asia.

What does it matter as our cultures, languages, religions, skin and hair colours and textures homogenize? Humans will always want to categorize and label.

Detail of an old painting with a pair of clippers in a woman's hand over Samson's sleeping head of hair.Samson

All this stuff about hair despite being a maker of things made of wool: as a reminder, wool yarn is a collection of many fibres, fine hair, or strands of protein called keratin, the fibres are brushed or combed into batts which are then spun into a singles yarn. 

Wool is an incredible fibre! The proteins in wool are what make it resilient and elastic. Wool acts as a natural insulator as the crimp of the fibre creates space for air and keeps the wearer warm or cool. Because wool is made of keratin it does decompose after a time and will return important nutrients and minerals, like nitrogen, sulphur and magnesium to the soil. Don’t worry, the wool yarn you are knitting with will not decompose over the next few weeks - the processing and the dyeing of the fibre prolong its life. Unless you bury it, the bits in the earth will help break the keratin down.

My relationship with wool is essential

A few years back I heard about Icebreaker. A company from New Zealand that produces beautiful, soft, wearable merino wool outdoor performance clothing. Basically, underwear. I am interested in it for layering. Where I live in Canada, I find it best to layer clothes because it could be 20C one day and -20C a few days later. 

The sheep in New Zealand have it good! Prime conditions for happy sheep. Few to zero predators. Sunshine all day long, most days all year long. Plenty of luscious green grass to eat and ample room to do it in. Beautiful weather conditions. Twelve months of ideal growth. Of course, this merino fibre is the longest in the world. 

In contrast to Canada where the summer is, at most, 4 months long, and the weather is all the weather and there are coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, and bobcats, to name a few predators farmers have to deal with. Like NZ, the wool fibre from Canada reflects the climate. It’s a shorter fibre and often coarse. But that won’t stop me from knitting with it.

One day last Summer, it was a strangely liquid-foggy day. When I was walking along the sidewalk, a little boy walked past, looked up at me, and declared, “HAIR!” Sure, it’s full of hydrophilic staple fibres. Which means it gets curlier when it's humid. I got big hair. I laughed at my surprising him.

I recall a day or two later, my elderly and observantly-critical mother made a culturally unacceptable comment about my hair. Nonetheless, her mention spun me into a knot.

Later that week, I learned a woman showed too much of her hair, that her headdress wasn’t worn properly and was beaten by a group of police who monitor how women behave.

Where this woman was and who the people were didn’t matter. She showed her hair and now isn’t alive. 

What were these signs of hair trying to tell me? Was this but a coincidence? Hair? Big deal. Stop paying so much attention to your hair! You’re so vain. It’ll grow back. Do you know people touch other people’s hair without consent? That is preposterous! What is the big deal?

I came to the conclusion, there is an amount of hate we tolerate. We allow. We accept. 

I’ve been thinking about this for weeks, I am outraged and I feel powerless. These conflicting emotions are what most people feel when they read, time and time again that a person was murdered because of what they look like. How does that make any sense?

The ingrained prejudice towards women in my culture is shameful. Especially when the Western world tolerates, without sanctions, these tragedies towards women. All for the love of petrol. Not hair. Not women.

British Plastics Federation (BPF) says, “Synthetic plastics are derived from crude oil, natural gas or coal.” And, Google says, “China is (also) the world's largest polyester market, which makes this nation the hub of the international polyester industry.”

When we buy plastic or polyester or the misleading “vegan leather,” we are condoning misogyny. I understand we are in a difficult situation. We are pressed for time. We are one person of millions. We are just trying to get through the day. All of this I appreciate.

What can one person do? I believe if we choose to purchase certain things, then other certain things will go away. That is the power of consumerism. 

  • Reduce our reliability on petrol products
    • I could do my best to bring a container and ask my butcher, and other such grocers, to put my purchase into it so both of us don’t have to deal with Styrofoam and plastic
    • I could do my best to use and live with the plastics & polyesters I currently have in my home. Including my computer, screens, some furniture, etc.
      • Not throw them away
      • Not bring in new plastic
    • I could do my best not to purchase anything containing or packaged in plastic. This will be particularly tricky (reminds me of a time, that'll be another WPMOT) this Christmas.
    • I could do my best to purchase and limit myself to geography reducing shipping distances.
  • Choose to use consume biodegradable materials only
  • Share my method with my kid so he will practice sustainable living

 All that to say I feel powerless even though I have all this to say. I'm curious about what you thing of when reading this. Do you think I got it wrong? Let's discuss. 

In the meantime, I know I have big hair, and, I’m lucky I can let it down and let it soak up the humidity and be big and take up lots and lots of space. 

Be free to express the person you are. You are amazing. 


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