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Heads Up on Hairstyles

September 13, 2007 By:
Frank Rosci, JE Feature
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As the most visible aspect of her appearance, hair has been called a woman's crowning glory. Some observers have claimed that it's an accurate barometer of mood as well, since it's been suggested a woman will change her hairstyle in the hopes of changing and improving her frame of mind and outlook.

How much truth is there to that notion? Is how a woman's hair looks, how up-to-date its style, a window into how a woman feels about herself, life and the world? Does changing her hairstyle make a woman feel better about herself and about life, and more positive, more hopeful about the day to day?

And is changing a hairstyle necessarily either a bad or good thing?

"You have to look beyond the actual activity because the things we do have important symbolic meaning, but, in general, a change in hairstyle is a way of rewarding oneself. It could be a way to be nice to yourself after a good day at work -- I earned this; I deserve this -- so, generally, it's not a terrible thing, but a healthy, positive activity that has to be kept in the proper perspective," explained David Baron, M.S.Ed., D.O., professor and chair of the department of psychiatry at the Temple University School of Medicine and Hospital.

"It's similar to how a guy feels when he buys and wears a new suit. Getting 'new' isn't a bad thing. If gray hair, for example, reminds someone they're getting older and dying it helps to lift spirits, there's nothing wrong with that. When people feel better about themselves, they do feel better about the world around them.

"It becomes an issue if it creates a compulsion or obsession, or is used to mask or cover up a deeper, underlying problem; for example, depression, when it's used to not simply make someone feel better about themselves but to conquer a deep sadness that should be treated medically," he continued.

"If someone is chasing their tail after something to make them feel better because they're depressed, or spending too much or spending money that was intended for something else, then the underlying causes could be a harbinger of bad change."

But, with more on the positive side, Baron said that a change in hairstyle can also be a sign that a person cares: "Basically, it's about how people feel about themselves, how they see themselves, and shows care for oneself and care also for significant others in someone's life."

The flip side, he continued, "is when people show zero concern for how they look."

"That indicates most likely that a serious behavioral problem exists," he said, noting that "a bad hair day has come to mean a whole lot of things, such as not feeling well" -- not simply and literally bad-looking hair.

At Salon L'étoile, located in Jenkintown and Manayunk, owner Mel Silverman talked about the upside of hairstyle change.

"It's been my experience that when a woman gets a new hairstyle -- either a new cut, a different length or a new color -- she feels hip and younger-looking, and upbeat about the changes. That's what many of our women clients have told us, have told me.

"This is especially true because of a new treatment for curly hair, for example, that totally straightens the hair and gives someone a completely new look.

"As part of that, I've had people tell me they hate their curly or frizzy hair -- and will until the day they die -- or they hate hard-to-manage hair or hair that's thinning, say, so it gives you a good feeling when you can offer them hope and a real change in their appearance."

Even before, said Silverman, he had noticed that women had come in seeking a new look, for something a little different -- from the latest hairstyle and new makeup to manicures and pedicures, "just to feel better about themselves and happier, to get a little lift, and to get out there to do things and to do more things."

Joseph Cutrufello, owner of the Pierre & Carlo at the Bellevue in Center City and co-owner of two other area Pierre & Carlo salons, said that fashion is a big part of the desire to change from one hairstyle to another, and a person's self-image is an important factor, too.

"It comes down to someone asking, what is my self-image and what do I want to project? Getting a new hairstyle as a way to change mood is common," he noted, "and is like buying a change of clothes or a new car, but it's a whole lot less expensive.

'It's Like a Mini-Vacation'
"A change can be for a completely different look, a unique look, and can definitely improve mood and put a spring in a woman's step. Our clients, from teens to retired, find that there is that instant gratification in the half-hour it takes for a new style. It's like a mini-vacation," he commented.

Concluded Cutrufello: "A change in hairstyle, hair color and makeup, having their nails done and getting a massage makes them feel and look more attractive, more sophisticated, sexier, prettier and younger. People judge you by your cover, by how you look, so an image remake when wanted and when needed is a good idea."

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