By RazzaTazz 19 Comments
Let me start off by saying that I love my hair. In the realm of differences between men and women, length of hair is usually one of the main differences with how the different genders choose to present themselves. With the longer hair and the finer attention for aesthetics which women generally have, it also allows us to do some pretty interesting things with our hair. An evolutionary biologist might say that long hair in women in ancient times would have indicated that they had been healthy for a long time and would therefore be a good choice for a mate. This may or may not be the case, but certainly in the history of mankind, women have generally been associated with long hair and men not as much. In fact some women have such iconic hair that an attempt to portray them is impossible without a certain colour and style (think Marilyn Monroe or Cleopatra for two.)
Hair therefore forms an integral part of how a woman views herself and how others see her. The choice to shave off one's hair is one which is usually seen as radical and in recent years it has been done for fashion (Sinead), a movie role (most recently Natalie Portman to play Evey Hammond but also Demi Moore and Robin Tunney) or because the person apparently went crazy (Britney.) Out of the public spotlight this may occur for various other reasons. For instance all recruits to the American military college "The Citadel" are required to shave their heads. When women sued and got the right to be admitted, the requirement for shaved heads was not modified. Last week was our break from school also known as Reading Week. Very few people actually read, a lot headed south and probably an equal portion headed home. This left me mostly alone in my 5 person-shared house. I was not completely poorly off. My family lives in the same city as me, so I still got home for some visits, but I mostly sequestered myself and actually read. This was mostly school books, but for those who were following my actions last week, I did grab a few comic books out my family's joint collection (safely guarded in my dad's study) and re-read them and even reviewed some of them online here. I grabbed one specific series, Elektra volume 1 from the late 90s. I was actually happy that I did, as the series was a pretty well written one with even some decent action and I never really noticed before. What surprised me though was in the course of its 19 issue run it had not one, but two bald females, both by their own choice.
The specifics of why they shaved their heads are maybe not necessarily relevant, rather the fact that they did it in the first place. I have heard it said that if a woman wants to shave her head, that it is an extremely difficult look to pull off unless they are extremely beautiful. This is not much of an issue for Natalie Portman, and nor is it an issue for comic book characters. Most comic characters are drawn extremely attractive anyway, it doesn't matter much if they are supporting characters or main characters. While I suppose that this puts the onus on the artist to be always be on their A-game when drawing these characters it doesn't really bother me. What does bother me (as usual I guess) is that the purpose of cutting their hair is usually given relatively little context and once again a fashion statement is a plot device instead of character development.
The thing which I found most interesting about this short run on Elektra was not the short hair, but rather the extremes at both ends of hair. For while her two supporting characters have extremely short hair, Elektra on the other hand has extremely long hair. Those who follow my blogs might remember back to one of my earliest posts where I suggested the various ways female comic book characters are drawn which would not be realistic in an actual battle or during crimefighting. One of my main culprits was loose clothing or loose hair. It would make just too much of an easy target for their opponents. As you can see in the following picture Elektra's hair is more than halfway down her body:
I don't know much about self-defense, I have taken a couple of course to keep me safe, but one thing I did learn was this, where the head goes the body goes. As hair is attached to the head you could extrapolate that where the hair goes, the head often follows. This means that a 5 year old with grabby hands could quite possibly incapacitate Elektra, let alone her archnemesis Bullseye, who is not known for fighting fair. I can let that pass though as just another exaggeration of comic book depiction of women. The real issue is maybe more why would any woman ever grow her hair that long. The far reaches of my memory recall that there was a heroine in the Global Guardians at one point by the name of Lady Godiva who could form her hair into whatever she chose. It was a pretty weak power, but the only real reason why
someone would want to have such long hair. I like my hair long, but for me that means shoulder length, when it gets to shoulder blades I know it has been long enough between haircuts. I have run across women in real life who have lower back length hair, but they spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about how hard it is to care for. Seriously, in an earlier post I made fun of Batman for wasting his time stopping a dognapper when there was real crime to stop. Would Elektra be any more justified that ten people died because she had to take two hours to wash her hair?