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-   -   Question for women re: hair (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=97335)

E. Q. Taft 07 February 2019 05:49 PM

Question for women re: hair
 
So, I've let my hair grow out again. it's around shoulder-length at the moment. My hair is quite thick and a bit wavy. Sometimes I find this a little frustrating to deal with, but it has its good points, too. (I've never much worried about going bald, though my hairline has certainly receded some over the years.)

A few minutes ago, I passed a woman I didn't know in the hallway. We smiled at each other, and she said, "I like your hair." I thanked her, and moved on.

This is the first such compliment from a stranger I've gotten in a while, but on previous occasions when I've had long hair, I've gone through phases where I would get spontaneous compliments from women I didn't know in public places. The interesting thing is, as with the one this morning, the women have almost always been black. (I am white, in case anyone wasn't sure.)

I presume this is due to the particularly difficult issues black women have in connection with our general society's standards of beauty -- which, for women, often includes a head of long, silky, flowing hair. Few, if any, black women have hair like that, particularly not without a lot of work (straightening, hair extensions, etc.). The reason I particularly suspect this is that often the compliment is in the form of "I wish I had hair like that," or "That hair should be mine!" (In a good-natured way, not an outwardly angry one.)

It is kind of a sad commentary on how our beauty standards -- like most everything else -- favor the European-descended folks, and how black women in particular are the victims of this. (I have read that, on OK Cupid! and other dating sites, black women have the hardest time finding matches. White men have the biggest advantage, in that most women are willing to consider them irrespective of their own race; on the other hand, even some black men have a strong preference for non-black women.)

What I have wondered is if non-black women -- particularly those who do have particularly lustrous hair -- have noticed a similar trend of getting spontaneous and somewhat envious comments from black women. If your hair is particularly nice, you probably get such compliments from women of all races, but are a disproportionate number of them from black women?

Or, do they feel more comfortable making these kind of comments to me, as a man -- perhaps because they don't see me as direct competition? That seems possible, too.

ETA: Or, are black women just more prone, for whatever reason, to make spontaneous comments to strangers in general? Hadn't thought of that possibility.

Not exactly a burning question of our time, but you wonder about these things from time to time. Or at least, I do.

Seaboe Muffinchucker 07 February 2019 06:24 PM

My bangs are blue. They've been blue for about ten years now.

I get compliments on them all the time*, usually from women. I haven't noticed more or fewer compliments from black women.

When I had really, really long hair (about 45" long), I got a lot of compliments from complete strangers, mostly male as I recall; it's been quite a while and I could be mis-remembering.

Seaboe

*especially in the fall/winter, probably because one of our major sports-ball teams has blue and green as its colors.

E. Q. Taft 07 February 2019 06:39 PM

As a digression, I recall one time I had a female cashier who had a purple streak in her hair. What impressed me is that the color exactly matched the top she was wearing. I generally don't make spontaneous appearance compliments to women I don't know, for fear they will assume I'm hitting on them, but there are times when I am very tempted, and that was one of them.

(And I'm sure I could have phrased that one in a way that avoided much chance of discomfort, but then again, I have serious social anxiety, so it's probably really more that, anyway.)

I've noticed this from time to time with other women with such artificial color streaks, and I think it's a very nice touch, but that was the first time I particularly noticed and it always stood out in my mind.

erwins 07 February 2019 08:48 PM

It's an interesting question. I wonder if part of it is a recognition (could be positive or negative or neutral) of the gender norm crossing for you to have long hair.

One of my kids, A, has expressed that they are non-binary gender. They say sometimes they feel like a girl, and sometimes like a boy. A was born with the most beautiful long, curled eyelashes. People who know A as a boy have remarked that the eyelashes should have gone to A's sister. Some people just complement them, or (women) say they are jealous of them.

I could see remarking on long hair as a "you go girl!" kind of remark from one person who gets judged about their hair to another.

Morning 07 February 2019 10:11 PM

Until I got badly ill last year I had hip length, died auburn hair. When I wore it loose I got many spontaneous compliments, mostly from white men.

My theory is that the compliment is given to encourage the recipient to keep the attractive feature and men feel more free to push women to do so.

I'm a white, older, female with neck length brownish/grey hair now, and the only compliments I get are on my weight loss.

Edited to add: EQ hair might go splodey without pic, I fear.


Morning
"How did you lose so much weight! You look wonderful!"

"Stage 4 renal failure" is not the answer they were looking for. :lol:

E. Q. Taft 07 February 2019 10:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by erwins (Post 1995968)
It's an interesting question. I wonder if part of it is a recognition (could be positive or negative or neutral) of the gender norm crossing for you to have long hair.

Hmmm -- I wonder if it would change things if I grew a beard. (Seems to me that most of the men who wear their hair long these days, tend to have beards. I don't, although I've been lazy enough lately that I can't really say 'clean-shaven' with a straight face...)

thorny locust 07 February 2019 11:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Morning (Post 1995971)
"How did you lose so much weight! You look wonderful!"

"Stage 4 renal failure" is not the answer they were looking for.

I'm sure it wasn't; but I hope you gave it.

Might make them think twice about making unsolicited comments about people's weight.

And might even put a tiny dent in the "thinner = healthier" assumption.

-- hope the situation's under control.

Morning 07 February 2019 11:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thorny locust (Post 1995973)
I'm sure it wasn't; but I hope you gave it.

Yup. :D


EQ, perhaps your compliments are just because your hair is handsome.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar....


Morning

E. Q. Taft 08 February 2019 02:05 AM

Well, I think it's nice hair, but I never know quite what to do with it. Also, it doesn't necessarily explain why such a high proportion of the unsolicited compliments come specifically from black women.

Now, some years back, I had a friend/housemate whose hair was longer than mine, but straighter and not quite as thick. But: whereas mine is a fairly ordinary shade of brown, his was strawberry blonde. Boy, did he get compliments. No one much looked at my hair when he was around.

(He also has a pretty exceptional voice -- another thing about which I am sometimes complimented, but not in comparison with him. Sometimes it was kind of annoying, but hey, a friend is a friend and all that. :))

WildaBeast 08 February 2019 02:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by E. Q. Taft (Post 1995972)
I've been lazy enough lately that I can't really say 'clean-shaven' with a straight face.

Sort of a hijack, but that was probably my biggest motivation for growing a beard -- I was too lazy to shave all that often, and with a beard at least it doesn't look like I'm being lazy. And I have gotten spontaneous compliments on it from women.

katdixo 08 February 2019 01:40 PM

I am white and have waist-length hair. I occasionally get compliments on it from strangers, but as far as I recall, they have always been from white women.

Richard W 08 February 2019 07:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by E. Q. Taft (Post 1995972)
Hmmm -- I wonder if it would change things if I grew a beard.

Well it worked for me... Although most of the spontaneous comments or compliments I get on mine are from men. Sometimes from women, too. When it gets complimented by men, I definitely think it's because it turns out I can grow a better beard than most men, and they're a bit jealous. I think the friend who originally persuaded me I should grow a beard did so because he wanted to grow one himself but can't.

And although clearly women have rather mixed reactions to beards, the women who do like it seem to pay more attention to me than any women did without it, so that makes up for any off-putting factor...

(My beard featured two or three times in the interviews for my current job. One guy, when he first saw me on a video conference call, called it "magnificent"; then on a later round, during a lunch interview, one of the women spontaneously said that there was one other guy in the company who might have a beard as good as mine - and back in the office later, I was introduced to him, and somebody sitting nearby asked if beard standards were part of the new criteria for recruitment. The other guy and I are by no means the only two men in the company with beards. And yes, I do seriously think that it was a factor in getting me the job, even though the comments were fairly jokey and throwaway compliments).

Avril 09 February 2019 12:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Morning (Post 1995971)
Until I got badly ill last year I had hip length, died auburn hair. When I wore it loose I got many spontaneous compliments, mostly from white men.

My hair is similar to this, but the color is natural. White men have always been most likely to remark on it. Most recently, a white man approached me at the grocery store and said something along the lines of him being powerless to keep his comments on my hair to himself and he reached out his hand to me, so I was creeped out enough to run away. (It was in a French braid at the time.)

Women compliment my hair most when I wear it down and very wavy--if I set it on about 9 braids overnight I get very wavy hair versus the sort of wavy hair I get if it's just allowed to dry as is. There is no pattern in race.

kitap 09 February 2019 01:16 PM

I have only ever been complimented on my natural wave, but then my hair is only about shoulder length and thin so it's not the type to get lots of compliments.

Seaboe Muffinchucker 11 February 2019 01:41 PM

When my hair was really long, I always wore it in a braid. Always. It came out only to be brushed and washed.

One woman I knew kept saying I should be wearing it loose. I explained that it wouldn't be that long if I wore it loose (because reasons), an explanation she clearly considered specious, because she would not let it go. Every time I saw her, she told me I should be wearing my hair loose.

Seaboe

Lainie 11 February 2019 01:53 PM

When I've had my hair colored particularly brightly (orange, pink), I've noticed more comments from black women than white women. Ditto when I have it cut super short or in a fauxhawk. I could spitball some social-cultural reasons why this is the case, but of course I don't really know. I do enjoy the compliments.

White women, OTOH, often comment on how "brave" I am for trying such looks. Most of them intend it as a compliment.

Lainie 11 February 2019 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker (Post 1996101)
One woman I knew kept saying I should be wearing it loose. I explained that it wouldn't be that long if I wore it loose (because reasons), an explanation she clearly considered specious, because she would not let it go. Every time I saw her, she told me I should be wearing my hair loose.

Seaboe

I would have been tempted to tell her that she should be wearing her lips closed.

Seaboe Muffinchucker 11 February 2019 01:58 PM

Luckily, I did not see her often, and she soon took a job in another part of the company.

Seaboe


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