From Publishers Weekly
This earnest roundup of anecdotes, interviews, statistics and remarks about hair and self-image among women in postwar America is engaging enough, but there's not much news here. Apart from a short historical survey at the beginning that includes a few suggestive facts, the only really informative part of this book is the chapter called "At the Salon" where we learn a good deal about the profession of hairdressing: who does it, what its economics are, how its distinctive caste system works. To be fair, information is not really Arizona State University sociologist Weitz's aim. Her main goal is to authorize a common feminine obsession with hair (her own included, of course) as a subject of serious discussion. It is also, worthily enough, to make the discussion more inclusive than other books like this often are. Weitz interviews many minority women, children, lesbians and older women, but her analysis of this rich material suffers from insufficient depth of cultural perspective. Weitz avers that hair is a uniquely powerful medium of self-presentation, but makes no attempt to distinguish between hair and dress, say, or between head and facial or body hair. Observing that the typical black hair salon functions not as a feminine preserve but as a community meeting place, she finds little large-scale significance in its public and private constructions of the activity of coiffing. Similarly, she alludes to different meanings attached to long hair, short hair or hairlessness mostly in terms of different individual experiences. The overall effect is diverting, well-intentioned light reading (including 16 pages of b&w photos) that doesn't quite fulfill the subtitle's promise.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Hair has provided the inspiration for everything from Bible lore to Broadway scores, from fairy tale fantasy to artistic imagery. Whether long or short, straight or curly, blonde or brunette, a woman's hair can be everything from her crowning glory to the bane of her existence. Indeed, the shape, style, and substance of a woman's coiffure communicates volumes to the world at-large and defines her own self-image as perhaps no other physical attribute can. Far from being a frivolous matter of purely personal hygiene, this heightened concern about her hair's appearance affects a woman's life on social, economic, and cultural levels, often determining professional success and personal acceptance. In a meticulous examination of the history, psychology, and sociology behind women's hairstyles, Weitz explores the various ways in which hair dominates a woman's existence, and the far-reaching ramifications of her choice of length, style, and color. Weitz's approach is both broadranging and specific, and she provides fresh insights into hair's public and private influences. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved