Monday, April 25, 2016

Contemporary Man and the Power of Samson’s Long Hair

Samson Strength Came from His Long Hair
The Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah is the story of a man’s love for a defiant woman which led to his demise.  

It was wearing his hair in lengthy locks that gave him his strength, a secret that would become known to his adversaries.  It was not a style he was portraying but a ritual that he attested to which he drew his strength from - his long flowing hair.  The invincible Samson became quite vulnerable once Delilah cut his hair thus creating such a great mystique over the ages that a man’s desire to grow his hair long has deemed a value more than just an attempt to become attractive.  As not just a vogue statement of personal styling this instance in history is where wearing long hair as fashion for men has its roots.

Fashionable long hair for men is seen throughout history starting most notably in the Old Testament where the men of Nazareth are depicted as wearing the hair long to show devotion to God.   Most illustrations and painting of Jesus show him with long locks of hair as a sort of display of divinity. His flowing locks amplify his charismatic manner inviting alliance and trust.

Prior to Christianity in 2200 B.C. Egyptian men wore their hair short however often wore sensational headdresses with wigs or hair extensions.   In ancient Greece men with long hair was a status symbol of wealth and power.  The common man wore his hair short however in line with the notion of men wearing their hair long as prominence the Greek Gods, Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon had long hair as did warriors and heroes such as Achilles. Warriors of acclaim considered their long hair as a sign of aristocracy and combed it publicly in a show of vanity.  In the Sixth Century Greek men favored shorter hair styles with the exception of the Spartans.

Viking warriors wore their 
hair long
Men of Asia throughout history generally wore their hair long across all social strata, as if they had the same belief as Samson regarding long hair as a source of power.  Paintings of Samurai will attest to this.  Prior to the beginning of the 4th century Romans and all men within its control did not cut their hair short for the most part however around 300 B.C. they adopted short hair styles as by order of Cesar.  With the exception of some philosophers who were thought to be too consumed with thought to be concerned with cutting their hair short hair styling for men throughout the remaining rule of the Roman Empire.

Vikings wore their hair long following the Following the ritual of Samson.  Their warrior ways certainly follow the concurring fashion of Samson.  The collapse of the Roman Empire, most of Europe adopted the hair style and dress of the Germanic peoples.  During the reign of the Merovingian dynasty, King Chlodio V was nicknamed "Le Chevelu" due to his long hair, much lengthier than his predecessors. During this period, long hair was a symbol of status, as with the Greeks centuries earlier. Royalty wore their hair long in long style while men of the lower classes and slaves had short hair or shaved heads.

Native American men 
kept the hair long
In the 17th century men wore wigs that afforded them long full wavy hair that could easily be changed to suit attire or affair.  In France it was a sign of status, made popular by King Louis XIV who made public appearances and posed for magnificent portraits in long, dark wavy wigs.  It might be noted that King Louis XIV made the wearing of neck clothes or cravats (neckties) fashionably acceptable during the 30 year Religious Wars.  The Croatian Mercenaries wore their hair long and also wore red neck clothes in battle.  It was this form of uniform that gave notice by the French Royalty.

In the New World it was deemed fashionable for men to wear their hair long.  Politicians would adorn wigs which was the norm for men of stature and wealth.  It should be noted that President George Washington went against the trend of his day by not wearing a wig.  Instead he powdered his hair, and pulled it back, accenting it with long sideburns.  Native Americans wore their hair long in functional style more than fashion style as their belief that
Sir Isaac Newton
their hair was an extension of their feelings and a source of strength - in line with the faith that Samson, Achilles and the warriors of Greece, and others held with conviction.

Musicians such as Mozart and Beethoven wore their hair long as did many artists which became the norm leading up to the Bohemian Movement at the turn of the 20th century.  History will note that up until the First World War men wore their hair long.  It was the military influence of having short and trimmed hair for men that ruled through the first half of the century establishing a tradition in the military around the world.

Ludwig Von Beethoven
Hair styles would again change to become longer with the onset of beatnik poets in the 50s. By 1960, a small "beatnik" community in Newquay, Cornwall, England (including a young Wizz Jones) had attracted the attention of their neighbors for letting their hair grow to a length past the shoulders, which resulted in a television interview on BBC television's Tonight Series and other media promotion. The 1960s also saw The Beatles who started the widespread long hair trend that became a social revolution. Long hair, for men, became a political or counter culture phenomenon as protest. And women just loved their men in long hair.

This cultural symbol extended to several Western countries in the Americas, Western Europe, South Africa, and Australia.   Specific long hairstyles such as dread locks became the fashion statement of Caribbean men of African descent most notably made popular by Rastafarian musicians like Bob Marley.  In the late 70’s Rock and Roll groups like Led Zeppelin and the Who created the wave of very long hair styles that defined the decade.  The surfing counter culture life style as well embraced very long hair styles as a certain form of self-expression that was the signature of being out of the loop and living an esoteric life style that embellished the freedom of riding waves and tuning out of the politically charged civilization of the “Cold War”.

Oscar Wilde
The long hair panache of men out-lasted the free love revolution along with the rebellious anti-establishment philosophy of the hippies, Vietnam War protesters, rock and rollers, artists, surfers and snow skiers.  Sporting a bohemian style of hair remained popular throughout three decades until short hair styles became the fashion trend in the 90s.  Surprisingly before the end of the century baldness became quite fashionable in contrast to centuries if not millennium of great efforts of gentlemen to conceal their lack of hair.  The fashion solution of wearing hats, or donning toupees, and endless hair growth remedies and even surgery were in demand to answer the failure to have a full head of hair.  It was as if being bald was being considered sexy as merely a contrast to what had endured for decades and periodically throughout history – the yin and yang of fashion.

In later part of the past century men having short hair styles was in many cultures viewed as being under society's control and conforming to the establishment. While in the military, prison or in the employment of a fundamental career men were forced to wear their hair short.  Religious formalities and social uniformity regarding men with long hair as un-kept or not wholesome gave way to fashion. In contrast, men sporting long hair styles were accepted by society by sheer force, almost every guy had long hair in the 70's and 80's.

Brad Pitt
When the fade of long hair style started to become unfashionable or obsolete men that wished to wear their hair long regardless were sort of deemed renegades.  Not the average man can repeal the trends in fashion especially when it comes to hair style. Being bald and proud was something that was not easily accomplished.  As with wearing hair long for the contemporary man the scenario is the exact same. Only men with strong personality and the capability of carrying himself in character will sufficed.  These are usually self-made men or have become resilient to the confines of the system becoming employed outside the mainstream in sports, entertaining, or in the fashion business.

Now, having long hair signifies being outside of the mainstream and having their own special fashion statement of expression.  Think of soccer star David Beckham, or movie star Chris Hemsworth as contemporary men with long locks of hair.  These guys have much more than simple sex appeal – they
Chris Hemsworth plays Formula One 
Race Drive James Hunt circa 1976
have charisma that is beyond the norm.   They have the Samson dynamic.
 
Led Zeppelin - Iconic Rock Band 
and their long locks